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 the event as Ambassadors – including Olympian Mary King, and actor Martin Clunes – the next step was a pilot event.
Around 25 riders, including clients, celebrities such as BBC Radio 2’s Sara Cox, and members of the press tackled 45 miles over two days in September and were rewarded – rather to everyone’s astonishment – with non-stop sunshine. The reviews were terrific, despite widespread Ibuprofen consumption by the media pack whose knees are less used to this sort of workout than your average hunt follower.
“I hadn’t predicted how spectacular Dartmoor would be. It’s quite a challenge to ride miles over such varied terrain, but there are bits that really get your blood pumping”, was Sara Cox’s verdict. “I really could recommend it more”.
Alongside the media were guests ranging from endurance riding enthusiasts from Vermont and Florida, to non-horse owning City workers who found the event through marketing partner, The Riding Club London.
The Dartmoor Derby aims to couple many of the pleasures of luxury African riding safari with much of what makes Devon world renowned. This was 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.
Guests may decide how long a trip they want (between three and six days in the saddle from 2016) and how they’d like to split their accommodation between some of Dartmoor’s most highly acclaimed hotels or specially constructed luxury camps, each built to a different theme.
The renowned Arundel Arms (a CLA member), in Lifton, and five-star Bovey Castle provided the hotel stops this year, while the night in camp had a distinctly Mongolian flavour, with warm, colourful and extremely comfortable yurts contracted just above the West Dart River.
The first full Dartmoor Derby is to be run over the last weekend of September and is anticipated as a biennial event. There will be up to 100 places, with riders able to bring their own horse or hire quality mounts through the event.
To reserve a place for the Dartmoor Derby 2016, contact Elaine Prior at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07967 823674