Yearly Archives: 2015

Bonding with your horse on Dartmoor

By |2019-09-27T10:16:56+00:00December 30th, 2015|

Wide, expansive landscapes, rushing rivers, ancient forests… Dartmoor’s terrain is nothing if not varied. Dartmoor has long been the inspiration for many an author, poet and explorer, each entranced in their own way by her natural beauty and deep heritage. And Dartmoor’s variety extends beyond physical landcape, often touching at something much deeper… On hot, sunny days, you’ll find yourself in a luscious, green paradise - warm and welcoming. But when the weather turns, so can her welcome… Mist and heavy clouds shroud the moorland in an air of mystery, a bleak kind of beauty. This is, let’s not forget, the place that inspired Hound of Baskervilles… But it’s in this range of landscape and the emotions they evoke that the true magic of Dartmoor is revealed. As horse owners ourselves, we understand more than anyone the special bond between horse and rider. Having been fortunate enough to grow up riding on Dartmoor, we believe that this part of the world offers something truly magical and unique for both horse and rider. We’d be lying if we said Dartmoor is an ‘easy ride’… The weather alone can be a challenge. Often changeable from one moment to the next, mists can descend in minutes making it difficult to see which way you’re going. Hidden bogs are dangerous to those who aren’t familiar with what to look out for, and prolonged wet spells can make some rivers impassable at the wrong time of year. But all this simply adds to the sense of adventure that comes from riding Dartmoor… No two rides on Dartmoor will ever be the same. And with the right people, clothes and gear in place, memories made here are nothing short of [...]

Land & Business features The Dartmoor Derby

By |2019-09-27T11:00:01+00:00December 11th, 2015|

Land & Business declare The Dartmoor Derby as a proudly west country event The Dartmoor Derby aims to couple many of the pleasures of a luxury African Riding Safari with much of makes Dartmoor world renowned. This is a proudly west country event with superb local produce (Dartmoor farmers provided outstanding beef and lamb) hotels and wonderful insightful guides from the local farming, hunting and riding community Dartmoor's beauty defies description, as Steven Spielberg found when he came to film War Horse there, but exploring it on horseback for any length of time requires good support. "Having ridden many miles across Dartmoor accompanying guests from around the world, it struck me that several places would lend themselves brilliantly to hosting a luxury camp", says Elaine Prior who also has an established luxury riding holiday firm on the more, Liberty Trails, a CLA member. "With undulating vistas, total peace, and miles of moorland inaccessible except on foot or horseback, it has much in common with Africa.  Yet few people have the opportunity to explore it comprehensively on horseback because of the logistical support required to do so". Thus her idea for the Dartmoor Derby was born.  Inspired by the widespread interest in the daring Mongol Derby and the enduring success of African riding safaris, the Dartmoor Derby is not a race itself, but a multi-day challenge ride.  It's a chance to explore fully some of Britain's best-loved countryside in luxury, in small groups of not more than six, led by guides who know the country intimately, for anywhere between three and six days. With the support of Dartmoor National Park, Visit England, local landowners and other agencies, and with some high profile Devon names backing [...]

Lost your nerve? Dartmoor for the non-horsey

By |2019-09-27T11:03:58+00:00December 11th, 2015|

Nothing beats the exhilarating feeling of galloping across Dartmoor’s wild and expansive landscape…  It’s the kind of feeling that never leaves you, and it’s fantastic to be able to share this with our guests.  In fact, the very idea behind Liberty Trails came about as a combined expression of our love of horses and a passion for Dartmoor.  However, in this particular post we’d like to pay special attention to the second part of that statement….  After all, we recognise that gallavanting across Dartmoor at high speed isn’t everyone’s idea of fun!  Having grown up enjoying everything this beautiful corner of the world has to offer, it’s first and foremost our mission to share this with our guests - in whatever form that might take.  And of course, riding is just one of a multitude of ways to explore Dartmoor. Many of the people that come to join us on Dartmoor do so alongside family members or friends who aren’t such keen riders.  And we love the variety that provides…  In the past, we’ve organised a whole host of different activities for our guests such a climbing, fishing, hiking, archery, cooking lessons…  You name it - Dartmoor has it.  And we’re here to prove it. If you’re into fishing, you’re in for a treat because our friends at The Arundell Arms Hotel happen to be one of the best fishing hotels around.  And that’s no exaggeration, having recently been voted the Best Fishing School in the UK.  They cater for beginners alongside more advanced anglers, and offer everything in-between. For those that prefer to explore on foot rather than horseback, there are lots of beautiful walks to be enjoyed on Dartmoor.  Whether you’re looking for [...]

Celebrate in Style: Horse Parties at Saddle Tor

By |2019-09-27T10:19:08+00:00November 30th, 2015|

We all love a good celebration. But let’s face it, birthday’s often end up being a bit of a chore… Hours spent organising and gathering troups can end up spoiling the fun of the big day. It’s with precisely this in mind that we developed the concept behind our Horse Parties at Saddle Tor… To put the fun back in the parties. And fun it certainly is! This really is every horse lover’s dream - a luxury house party with hours on horseback spent exploring fantastic countryside, oven-ready meals created by a Master Chef of Great Britain using the very finest local produce…. And perhaps most importantly, plenty of time to kick-back and unwind amongst friends. The feedback we’ve received so far seems to confirm the same. Here’s a taster from one of our most recent guests, “The house was gorgeous, and luxurious, and beautiful and made for a very happy time with our lovely friends. Thank you for accomodating the changing numbers on a nightly basis, and the gluten free basket was just incredible… The riding was fabulous, and as you know, Boots and I want more, more, more!” Most importantly, we recognise that everyone is different… And that’s why all of our riding adventures are completely tailor-made to suit your group. Looking to spend hours in the saddle, but have a friend who isn’t so keen? There are all sorts of other fun activities we can organise to run alongside your ride, whilst ensuring you link up together for a shared lunch or tea. Perhaps you’d rather have five hours riding one day but only two the next, and then a trip to the spa later on? Anything’s possible on Dartmoor, and [...]

The Gaitpost hail the Dartmoor Derby pilot as a triumph

By |2019-09-27T11:27:04+00:00October 8th, 2015|

The Gaitpost was delighted to catch up with Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound and test rider at the Dartmoor Derby pilot event, to hear more about this unique, luxury multi-day riding challenge inspired by the rugged and breathtaking annual challenge across the Steppes, the Mongol Derby, and the enduring appeal of chic African riding safaris. […]

Sheer Heaven says The Horse and Hound of the Dartmoor Derby

By |2019-09-27T11:16:42+00:00October 6th, 2015|

Camping with your horse at the end of September might not be everyone’s idea of the perfect way to spend a weekend, but Dartmoor has long held a special place in my heart, so simply hearing the words “Dartmoor Derby” immediately made me prick my ears. With fond memories of family holidays that always seemed to involve a stop by the River Dart and more recent hunting trips on the moor with our own horses, this magical area intrigues me. For that reason there was no doubt the Dartmoor Derby was an event I wanted to learn more about so it was great to get involved in the pilot weekend. The brainchild of Elaine Prior — founder of the Dartmoor-based riding holiday company Liberty Trails — the event was loosely inspired by Elaine’s experience of African riding safaris which she combined with visions of the Mongol Derby. Having not experienced either of these first-hand, I was able to take a fresh look at the whole concept and to enjoy it rather than making comparisons in my head. Read more at

‘What a way to explore Dartmoor’ – Lucy Wiegersma’s blog

By |2019-09-27T11:32:39+00:00September 28th, 2015|

British team event rider and Dartmoor Derby Ambassador Lucy Wiegersma finally gets to explore the moor she sees from home each day.. in some style I work in my outdoor school for around six hours a day, and we have a view across the valley to the north west of Dartmoor. We watch the seasons changing and I am fascinated by it, but I never really have had the chance to explore it. I grew up in Cornwall, and did not spend my holidays roaming this region as a child. So I was thrilled to be asked if I would be an Ambassador for the Dartmoor Derby, and take part in the Pilot Event. Here finally was a first chance to take on Dartmoor with abandon — lthough I was quite sure it would be rainy and foggy when I did! Pony Club camp — but rather more swanky Our overnight in the specially built 'glamp-site' was great. It took me right back to Pony Club camp days, albeit considerably smarter! No stone barns here but ornate swanky yurts, complete with lamps, flowers, mattresses, duvets and chocolate on our pillows. But I still had my crash hat by my bed and reverted to that old childhood trick of warming up my breeches under the duvet before climbing into them. After a hot breakfast in our lovely riverside 'dining yurt' we were off for our day's ride. The others in my group were really nice, from all walks of like and very easy to talk to, with a common interest in riding and exploring the countryside. It was amazing being out on the moors beneath such vivid blue skies. We crossed the terrain at a faster [...]

‘If Carlsberg did riding holidays…’ – Sara Cox’s blog

By |2019-09-27T10:53:51+00:00September 26th, 2015|

How did BBC Two Radio Presenter and DJ  Sara Cox get on covering 25 miles of diverse moorland terrain on the first day of the 2015 Dartmoor Derby pilot event? Here she gives her account When I signed up to ride the Dartmoor Derby pilot event, I suppose I was hoping to regress to being 15 again, out on my pony all day on sandy lanes and stopping at the chip shop for lunch — but with better scenery! I hadn't predicted how spectacular Dartmoor would be. The views and scenery are incredible and we haven't seen any road or sign of life for mile after mile. Apart from Dartmoor ponies scattering in front of you, and occasional herds of Galloway or Highland cattle, or the odd roe deer, it's just you and your horse; you really feel you can breathe better up on the moors. Why Tetley's just my cup of tea I've ridden a variety of horses over the years, from my farm pony when I was a teenager, to racehorses — I have twice ridden in the ladies charity race at Goodwood, the Magnolia Cup. But I am now officially in love with Tetley. Our group's horses, fit local hunters, arrived for us. Then off the lorry came this huge, gorgeous piebald hunk, Tetley — and he was for me... His name — apparently given because he was born at teatime — was a good sign because I do like a good cup of tea! I'm quite long-legged so I feel a bit odd on some smaller horses, but Tetley was a big old unit, and felt like an armchair. He's very sweet natured, but he's also a machine. On this sort [...]

It’s time for the vision to become a reality… by Elaine Prior, Founder of Liberty Trails

By |2019-09-27T10:54:47+00:00September 25th, 2015|

Our camp is constructed, the horses are gleaming, the champagne is on ice and even the weather is behaving... Finally, we are on the brink of starting the Dartmoor Derby Pilot Event. It feels a little surreal finally to have reached this stage. I began formulating the idea for a Dartmoor Derby in the summer of 2014. Having ridden many miles across Dartmoor in recent years accompanying guests from around the world to my established adventure riding business Liberty Trails, it often struck me how certain places on the moor would lend themselves brilliantly to hosting a luxury camp. With undulating, unspoilt vistas, and total peace - apart from the occasional contribution from resident wildlife - there is much in common with African bush camps that riders have loved for years. Dartmoor is such an amazing place to ride, yet very few people have the opportunity to explore it comprehensively because of the logistical support required to do so. Widespread support I began sharing my vision for a Dartmoor Derby - loosely inspired by the African riding safari format, and the success of the more rough and tumble Mongol Derby - to Liberty Trails clients. The idea received an emphatically positive response from everyone. The time had come to do something about it! The next step was to speak to Dartmoor National Park, Uk Trade and Industry, the Duchy of Cornwall and other stakeholders, and I am very grateful for the immense support they, and other organisations, have given. From the outset the idea was to create an event that celebrated the region, involved local suppliers, businesses, hotels and farmers, but had no negative environmental impact. In an in-depth feasibility study, we spoke with [...]