Connemara Trail

Connemara/Galway Ireland: (IT-IRRT02)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/ireland_connemara_trail.aspx

Introduction
Connemara/Galway Ireland
In the very heart of a distinctive countryside, where the dark mountains meet the blue sea and green and verdant land surrounds pretty lakes, you will find one of Ireland's most unusual regions: the Connemara! 

The Connemara is a wild and barren region west of the city of Galway. It is a stunning patchwork of bogs, lonely valleys, pale grey mountains and small lakes that shimmer when the sun shines. It is a land both wild and tame, a vast region where you will meet a very special man, Willie Leahy, who will be your guide during the week of trekking through the Gaelic West. This lovely Irish ride will introduce the enthusiastic horseback rider and traveler to the Gaelic cultural richness of the Connemara countryside! Ride past small thatched cottages and villages built around stately manors or castle ruins. Journey through the wild bog lands and rocky mountainside of the region, an area renowned for its fantastic landscapes that change with every passing cloud or ray of sunlight. Rivers, lakes, mountains and the coastal sea provide an unspoiled and beautiful contrast to the russet bog lands. For novice and experienced riders alike, Willie provides a suitable horse for everyone and leads you on to a most fulfilling discovery of the Connemara Trail and its Irish delights!

Accomodation

Accommodations

This is a progressive ride, so nights will be spent in different locations.

Description
You can opt to stay in various guesthouses or hotels during your stay. All rooms are based on double/ twin occupancy. Please note those booking guesthouse accommodation may sometimes stay in small hotels depending on the availability of guest house room availability. Exact lodging will be confirmed 2 weeks before the trip's start.

Hotel Accommodations
All hotel options have rooms with private baths. WIFI is available in all hotels. Laundry facilities are available at some of the hotels for an average price of 8 Euro per load.
Night 1: Connemara Lake Hotel Oughterard
Night 2: Zetland Hotel
Night 3 & 4: Abbey Glen or Stationhouse Hotel in Clifden
Night 5 & 6: Loughrea Hotel and Spa

Guesthouse Accommodations
Rooms with private baths in all accommodations except last 2 nights.
Night 1 & 2: Marion Keane
Night 3 & 4: Ben View
Night 5 & 6: Fairhillhouse in Loughrea

Room Occupancy
Single supplement is mandatory if we are unable to find another rider to share.
Triple occupancy is only available for the hotel option.


Meals
All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 7. Start each day with a hearty Irish breakfast complete with hot porridge, fruit, yogurt, muesli, brown bread, bacon, sausage, eggs, and toast along with juices, coffee and tea. Picnic lunches are provided along the trail. Picnics consist of bread, cheeses, cold meats, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cookies and various sodas, tea, and coffee. You will prepare your sandwiches in the morning yourself. Evening meals are at the B&B's or hotel’s restaurant. Meals are wonderful and are typically four courses with a variety of dishes and choices.

Dietary Restrictions
Vegetarian or other dietary requests can be accommodated with prior notice.

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Rider Requirements
Participants must be able to gather, catch, tack and untack the horses, mount and dismount unassisted.
Riders need to be comfortably at a walk, long trots, canters and short gallops, riding up and down rocky hills, for 5-6 hours a day. We also ask riders to be independent as there is little direction or instruction given while on the ride. Finally, you should be flexible; the outfitter does not run on a strict schedule

Horses
Your host maintains approximately 200 horses, each very fit, willing to walk out and well-suited for the terrain. These Irish Hunters and Connemara ponies of varying sizes are known over the world over for their fantastic jumping ability, gentleness, intelligence and stamina. There is a horse to suit every rider’s needs. The outfitter knows his horses well and is adept at matching horse and rider.
The horses are not groomed as they live outside during the summer. However, riders are welcome to bring a small brush if they wish to groom and tidy before riding.
The first day will take at least an hour to select horses and get organized due to the size of the group. After gathering the horses, riders are asked to select a bridle and spend a brief time speaking with the outfitter about the size, temperament and preferences for a mount. Once a horse is chosen for the rider, he is asked to lead the horse to the tack trailer, select a saddle, saddle the horse and check the stirrup length and girth tightness. At lunch stops, the horses are untacked and are released to graze. After lunch, the horses are caught and tacked.

Tack
English tack is used for this trip. There are no saddlebags available, however, there are D Rings on the front of the saddle providing loops that a rain jacket or sweater can be tied to with leather thongs, Velcro or string. Water is not provided on the trail and it is suggested that a waist pouch with a water bottle be worn.

Riding Terrain
In the mountains, riders are advised to follow the guide rather their own path. The mountains can be quite boggy and rocky and the guide has years of experience in seeking a trail through them. The same applies on the beach, please stay behind the guide so that they can set the pace and route.

Guide and Staff
Willie is the very incarnation of an Irish horseman and will be your guide during a week of trekking through the Gaelic West. Your luggage is brought by car from accommodation to accommodation, while the catering problems are taken care of by other members of the team.

Non-Riders
This trip is not confined to horse lovers. On demand, many activities such as river fishing and deep-sea fishing, golf, cycling, mountain climbing or walking the little deserted roads, swimming etc. can be organized. Non-riders will meet their riding partners every evening to share their daily experience in the hotel pub.

Itinerary

Sample Itinerary- subject to changes

Day 1: Monday
The riders meet at the Meyrick Hotel (formerly the Great Southern Hotel), Eyre Square, in the heart of Galway at 10am. Here you are introduced to your guide and the back up team who are on hand to move luggage, bring the picnic and help with the horses.
There is a short drive, out of the city (approx. 30 min) to the start point of the ride, at Oughterard. Here you will have your first sight of the horse or pony which is to become your companion for the week. The horses and ponies are assigned to the riders, according to the rider's ability, weight, height etc. After tacking up the ride departs and heads straight into the mountains for a long ride that will finish at Maam Cross, the site of the famous October horse fair.
The trail takes the riders past the ruins of cottages abandoned since the famine, in the 1840's, which decimated the Irish population. As the trail winds its way through the spectacular scenery the view is magnificent, spanning the horizon is the vast expanse of Lough Corrib, the largest lake in southern Ireland.
After lunch the ride continues through the mountains, traversing the bogs and rocks and wading through streams. Way below the trail is the 'Quiet Man Bridge', made famous by the John Wayne movie. The day ends with the first of many canters along the abandoned Galway to Clifden railway line. At the end of the day the horses are turned loose into a lakeside pasture while the riders travel to their accommodation.

Day 2: Tuesday
Having spent the night at the lakeside pasture at Maam Cross the horses are refreshed and ready to begin the ride from Maam Cross to Ballinafad. The first stage of the ride goes through Willie's land at Maam Cross, where a path takes the riders alongside the beautiful Lough Sindle and past the remains of a long forgotten lime kiln, hidden in a grove of hazel trees.
Some of the trees in the area are ancient, yet they remain tiny, bent by the harsh Atlantic winds that batter this area during the winter. Lunch is eaten on a small village green, while the horses graze.
After lunch it is back into the saddle for the final stage of the days ride, through silent woodlands and through the beautiful Inagh Valley. On a clear day riders can see right over the spectacular Connemara landscape to the coast at Rosmuc. The day ends with another canter along the old Galway to Clifden railway line, before the horses are turned out in a pasture at Ballinafad, before the riders return to their accommodation.

Day 3: Wednesday
The horses are rounded up and saddled before the ride leaves Ballinafad.
This morning the horses wade through a wide mountain stream before heading up into a short stretch of mountain above the ancient Ballinafad cemetery.
The riders then go through the grounds of Ballinahinch Castle, enjoying a long canter through the woodland beforehand. The castle was once the home of an Indian Prince and also Richard Martin who founded the humane society for the protection of animals.
There is a long canter along the old railway line. The grassy track is great fun for a long canter. The horses are set free on the edge of bogland close to Clifden while the riders eat lunch.
Then it is back into the saddle for the afternoon ride which goes along a grassy track close to Clifden and then heads inland over the Roundstone Bog, site of the landing of the historic flight of Alcock and Brown, who piloted the first transatlantic biplane and the site of the Marconi wireless station. Then we follow the coast to the seaside pasture where the horses will spend the next few nights. The riders then head to their accommodation in Clifden where they will spend the next few nights.

Day 4: Thursday
This is a full day spent on the fabulous Mannin Bay beach. There is mile after mile of sandy beach where riders can gallop and jump over the small stone walls and sandy banks.
This is an unforgettable day. Riders are welcome to swim their mount in the clear water of the ocean. It is a unique and very special experience as the horse begins to swim under you. The horses dry off and rest in a beach side pasture while the riders eat a picnic lunch on over the beach over looking the ocean. Then it is back into the saddle for another ride along the beach to discover more of the wonders of this coastline.

Day 5: Friday
The ride begins at the sea and ends at Toombeola, inland over the mountains.
The ride follows the coastline, passing small farmsteads, where generations of small farmers have lived and worked. The coastline is beautiful, the water often the colour of a tropical sea. The ride continues into Errisbeg mountain along an old grassy track before our lunch stop, which is eaten in the mountains, overlooking the pasture where the horses eat. Then they are saddled for the ride that takes us high into Errisbeg mountain high above the seaside village of Roundstone. Watch out for the leprechauns that are known to inhabit this area. Below is the stunning scenery of Dogs Bay, which curves out into the Atlantic Ocean. The horses spend the night in a pasture at Toombeola while the riders travel back to Clifden for the night.

Day 6: Saturday
Spend the day at Willie's Dartfield Horse museum. Riders can trail ride around the museum, or test their skill on the cross country course. The event course has fences to suit all levels, from beginner to advanced riders so everyone will have fun and the chance to improve their riding and jumping skills. Riders have the opportunity to look around the museum, which is dedicated to the Irish horse and Connemara. Pony and is the only one of its kind in the world. Riders stay in Loughrea on last night.

Day 7: Sunday
Departure after breakfast. Please not that on your last day after the trail, you will depart from Loughrea and NOT from Galway City.

--The above sample itinerary is subject to changes at the tour operator's discretion.--

Non-Riders
There are many things in the area for non-riders to do. They include river fishing, deep-sea fishing, golf, cycling, mountain climbing, walking, and swimming. There are also many interesting castles and other sites to see in the area. Non-riders should have a rental car for greatest flexibility.


Rates and Dates for Connemara Trail

Rates include:

Accommodations in B&B guest houses - or upgrade to hotels, all meals, 6 riding days, guide, all meals (Full Irish Breakfast, picnic, lunch and evening dinner)

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20207 day trip, AP - Hotel (peak)€1690$1945
    • Single supplement€250$290
  • B
    20207 day trip, AP - Hotel (low)€1650$1900
    • Single supplement€250$290
  • C
    20207 day trip, AP - Guesthouse (peak)€1580$1820
    • Single supplement€200$230
  • D
    20207 day trip, AP - Guesthouse (low)€1510$1735
    • Single supplement€200$230
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.15

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 Description
2020 Meet in Galway on Monday morning at 10:00 am

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
B 2020 04/27 - 05/03 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 04/27 - 05/03 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
B 2020 05/11 - 05/17 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 05/11 - 05/17 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
B 2020 05/25 - 05/31 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 05/25 - 05/31 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
B 2020 06/08 - 06/14 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 06/08 - 06/14 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
B 2020 06/22 - 06/28 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 06/22 - 06/28 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
A 2020 07/06 - 07/12 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (peak... 4 /15 Reserve
C 2020 07/06 - 07/12 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
A 2020 07/20 - 07/26 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (peak... 4 /15 Reserve
C 2020 07/20 - 07/26 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
A 2020 08/03 - 08/09 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (peak... 4 /15 Reserve
C 2020 08/03 - 08/09 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
A 2020 08/17 - 08/23 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (peak... 4 /15 Reserve
C 2020 08/17 - 08/23 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
B 2020 08/31 - 09/06 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 08/31 - 09/06 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve
B 2020 09/14 - 09/20 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Hotel (low) 4 /15 Reserve
D 2020 09/14 - 09/20 7d / 6n 7 day trip, AP - Guesthouse ... 4 /15 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Riding helmets are mandatory.

Other Info
Meeting: Galway Hotel
Airport: Shannon
Transfer: Galway Hotel at 10:00am.

Climate:
                                            Galway area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

47

48

50

54

59

63

66

66

62

57

51

48

Average Low Temperature (°F)

37

37

39

41

46

51

54

54

51

47

41

39

Average High Temperature (°C)

8

9

10

12

15

17

19

19

17

14

11

9

Average Low Temperature (°C)

3

3

4

5

8

10

12

12

10

8

5

4

Source: NOAA


Seasons
The weather is mild but changeable and rain can be expected at any time of the year. Parts of the country are oceanic, and as you move further away from the coast the conditions become slightly more temperature- however the prevailing factor across the whole country is that few temperature extremes are experienced.

Ireland is affected by the North Atlantic Drift, so this has a moderating affect on the climate and keeps winter in Ireland warmer than places of similar latitudes. Its northerly location, however, means that summers never get particular hot either. The climate is generally fairly typical of an insular climate and is moderated by the moist winds that blow across the island. These winds prevail from the south west, off the Atlantic, and can reach particular high speeds at times of the year.

On the whole the west coast is much wetter than the east coast. Inland Ireland gets warmer in the summer months than the coastal region, though on the flipside it also gets much colder in the winter. These temperature differences are not that great, with central Ireland only being a few degrees cooler than the coast. In the center of the country across the year will record about 40 days below freezing, however on the coast the mercury will only fall below 0 C (32 F) on average 10 days per year.

The rain is usually a light drizzle of short duration which does not interfere with your riding as long as you have rain-wear suitable for riding. Please note, however, to bring either rain jackets and trousers, or long duster coats - riding capes (ponchos) are not permitted.

What To Bring:
In Ireland riding helmets are mandatory. The riding center has several models to choose from, but you might be better off to bring your own that fits.

A client's helmet will need to meet one of these standards:
  • PAS 015:1998
  • SNELL E2001
  • ASTM F1163
  • AS/NZS3838 2003
  • VG1 01.040 2014-12
Riders must wear hard hats, which can be rented at a minimal cost, and suitable footwear! Regular riding wear (jodphur, boots, helmet) or chaps and leggings with short boots are also acceptable. Riding gloves, rain-gear, a warm wind jacket and a sweater should also be included in the riding wardrobe, as Irish weather can be unpredictable.
Comfortable clothing - there is no dress code.

Summary
  • Jodhpurs or comfortable jeans – long hours are spent in the saddle, don't bring pants that will rub!
  • Long riding boots (leather or rubber) or short boots and chaps. Training and running shoes are not safe riding wear!
  • Pair of boot laces – you can use these to tie coats to the front of your saddle when not being worn.
  • The trail doesn’t use saddle bags, but feel free to bring your own if you want to carry cameras etc. We prefer saddle pads with pockets built in, or ones that sling over the horse.
  • Rain gear. Either waterproof trousers and jacket, or long riding coat. Definitely no capes! All rain gear should be lightweight, but hard wearing.
If you are traveling from the USA you may wish to check out unlocking your cell phone to use and Irish SIM card. Check out www.unlockitfree.comwww.bilemo.com/unlock
Cell phone rental is available and can be pre-booked through:www.rentaphone-ireland.com

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Personal Travel Insurance
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Jodhpurs or comfortable jeans (used if possible!)
Long riding boots: leather or rubber or boots and mini chaps.
Riding helmet  (mandatory)
Riding gloves
Windproof Jacket/Wax Jacket
Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection
Lightweight Waterproof pants and jacket or long riding coast. No capes

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Jeans
Shorts
Underwear and socks
Pyjamas
Bag for dirty clothes
Bandana
Warm jacket
Trekking boots/ comfortable shoes
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for an emergency)
Sewing kit
Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and extra batteries
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm