We British are a nation of horse lovers and with 1.2 million horse owners in the UK, what happens when it’s holiday time? Do they all leave their four legged friends and escape for a week on the beach? Leave the horses behind… somehow I doubt it!
So what better plan is there than to pack your suitcase, load your trailer and pop on over to the Isle of Wight for a holiday with your horse.
Ever since the first time I saw The Black Stallion as a child, or re-read Four Rode Home for the hundredth time, I have wanted to holiday with my horse and gallop along a sandy beach with the sea spraying all around. Of course not actually having my own horse put paid to any such notions, but I have always wondered, can you holiday with your horse?
On the Isle of Wight you can. With 165 miles of bridleways and 29 miles of byways, the Isle of Wight has some of the most accessible and diverse landscape to ride through. All squeezed within an area of just 147 square miles the Island offers excellent riding over many terrains; from downland, to forest and beaches and there are a few cross country courses dotted around as well.
Here are three great places to stay with your horses this season…
Great East Standen Manor & Cottage – Newport
Owned by Ron and Linda Scotchbrook Great East Standen Manor is located off a quiet lane on the outskirts of Newport, with bridleways straight out onto St Georges Down and over to Arreton Down giving stunning views across the whole Island and some amazing riding.
The Manor and Cottage are set within 60 acres of downland, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty nestled within a valley. The Cottage, dating back to 1503, sleeps five on a self catering basis and the stabling is available on site next to the cottage. Horses, as well as carriages and horse boxes are all catered for by arrangement.
Godshill Park Farm – Godshill
Godshill Park Farm is an organic livestock farm situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just outside the village of Godshill. The farm, owned by Mark and Kathy Domaille, is approached via a quarter mile drive from the public road and has direct access onto the Island’s bridleways network.
Located to the south of the Island riders can explore the bridleways out towards St Catherine’s Down and Chale Green or inland towards Gatcombe Down. Guests can opt for staying B&B in the main farmhouse or self catering in Lake View (sleeps 7) and Pheasant Cottage (sleeps 4). Horses may graze in the paddocks overnight, and stabling may be available on request.
Mattingley Farm – Wellow
Mattingley Farm is a family run business owned by Heather and Mike Nelson with four star self catering accommodation in the form of two dairy cottages (one sleeps 4 and the other 5) and Blake’s Barn (sleeps 6). Located about 3 miles from Yarmouth in a small hamlet called Wellow, Mattingley offers the perfect base to explore the West Wight.
The farm is situated on the main bridle path system offering unparalleled riding opportunities and is only a 20 minute hack from Compton Down which gives direct access onto the byway; west to Tennyson Down and The Needles and east to Brook Down and Brighstone Forest. Three acres of Mattingley are devoted to paddocks and good quality grazing with careful paddock management ensures a plentiful supply of food.
So for a perfect horse holiday look no further than the Isle of Wight just a short ferry crossing from Southampton.