Tuesday 26 May 2009

Another Camp Ride

The forecast was good for the bank holiday weekend, so at the last minute the girls and I packed the tent, saddled up and rode out for 3 days. This is us leaving the farm where we keep the ponies. We met up with friends, and rode out to Manaton, where we stayed at Wingstone Farm. This was a new place to stay for us, but we couldn't have asked for a better place. It is not a proper campsite, but that makes it more special! Juliette Rich, the owner, does lovely Bed and Breakfast in the house, but is happy to take tents and horses. She made us feel very welcome, and we will definitely be returning in future!

We pitched our tent in the meadow by the stream, under the oak trees. This is a beautiful stretch of meadow and woodland in the bottom of the valley below Hayne Down and The Bowerman's Nose. The clear water gurgled and splashed beside our tent, and the meadow was bursting with wildflowers. We are in the middle of bluebell season, and everywhere you turn, there are carpets of blue. I turned my ponies out in the meadow alongside us - there was far more grass than they are used too, but it was a nice treat after a hard day's riding.

There are also lovely big airy stables in the barn, where my friend Kathryn kept her two ponies, as the grass in the meadow was too rich for them.

On the second day , we set off along the Dartmoor way, down through Houndtor Woods. The beginning of the track sloped down steeply, and was very stony. This is the worst terrain for Red and Foggy, as they are barefoot, but I led Red down, and he picked his way carefully. At the bottom of the valley the track became softer, and we followed the river along before turning back onto the moor, and following a sheep track up across Trendlebeare down. The path down to the river crossing was steep and rocky. This is where the barefoot ponies come into their own. A lot of the track involved climbing down from boulder to boulder. Without shoes, there is far less chance of slipping on the smooth granite. I again led Red, but the children on their surefooted hill ponies just hopped and scrambled down the hillside. At the bottom, back in the bluebell woods, was a clear, cool river, a welcome drink before climbing up the other side of the gorge, and eventually emerging into the hot sun at Houndtor. We stopped for ice - creams at the van in the car - park below the rocks, before heading back across Hayne Down to Wingstone.

After a paddle in the stream, my youngest daughter and I spent a quiet hour in the beech trees, making fairy houses!

It's always fun to have a camp fire! The girls made toast, and then decided to split bananas open and stuff them with broken chocolate biscuits before baking them on the fire!

They said they were delicious!

On Monday, it was a little cooler and we set off home via Holwell and Bonehill rocks and down into Widecombe for a lunch stop, before a long haul back across the moor. 6 hours in the saddle on this last day, but we had such a wonderful time! The ponies ( and Red) all behaved perfectly for the whole trip, like true trail ponies! The older girls did lots of cantering and jumping, and discovering their brakes on the open moor, and dear little Foggy took perfect care of my youngest daughter, trundling after the older girls when she wanted him too, or walking back with us if she didn't want to follow them. He never moved an inch while she climbed on and off him, dropped his reins while trying to open gates, or was mobbed by crowds of children on the village green at Widecombe.

Here we are, the whole gang ( except me - I'm always behind the camera!) . Red, the appaloosa is my ride, and the two grey ponies are ours - Matthew, a dartmoor hill pony, and Foggy, our little Welsh mountain pony. My friend Kathryn, has Yeoman, an elderly grey Highland pony, and her daughter rides Bramble, another dartmoor hill pony.


Jess said...

What a lovely time you all had!x

Carol Anne Strange said...

What a magical way to spend the holiday weekend, Danielle. Bliss! Thank you for sharing it with us. x

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

What a wonderful way to spend a holiday!! A child's (or adult) dream!!

Celia Hart said...

What a wonderful magical adventure :-)


PS - I like the sound of the bananas too!

Unknown said...

Oh how beautiful the adventure looked. Lush greens, and the ponies are beautiful. Thank you for the picture adventure.

Sonia ;)

alison said...

Your trip sounds idyllic, like something out of the very best sort of dream. Thank you for shareing it all with us.

I love the twig stairs up to the fairy house too

The Comfort Café said...

this sounds absolutely delightful!! that meadow was so pretty - you must feel very inspired!

First Draught Farm said...

What a fantastic time I just vicariously had! Thank you for sharing. -kat

Kim said...

What a fabulous weekend, thanks for sharing it :)

Kim x

Kathleen Coy said...

I LOVE the photo of your daughter standing with the two ponies. The lighting is so beautiful!!!

Chris said...

TOO fun! Great photos, as always!

Jo Bradford said...

I see we live quite near each other! This sounds like a great way to spend the holiday

Kim said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog :) I forgot to mention, we are visiting your area in a few weeks time so I'll give you a wave as we zoom by :)

Kim x

allhorsestuff said...

Absolutley fantastic! I loved all you descriptions of the loding and the link..I wanna go too! Neat-o-!
Perfect camping arangements and the farey houses looked so inviting. I must try that banana configuration when we go horse camping too! Goo didea girls!
Thanks for sharing your lovley holiday!

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Charming !

Carolee said...

What a wonderful adventure, and what magical memories you are creating for your children! Thank so much for sharing this!

~ Carolee

Jennifer MacNeill said...

What an amazing story! This kind of ride would be a dream for me.

Linda said...

What a lovely post, looks idealic. One of my friends and I made fairy houses too, and fairy bow and arrows. Brought back lots of memories I'd quite forgotten,. I'd love a pottager Garden too, I planted some brassica family little plants out last week, and I returned the next day to find just stalks, I hate slugs, but refuse to use pellets, wools a good idea, I usually get them wasted on beer, but M doesnt like parting with any of his ration.. :) Lindax

Anonymous said...

I just love your blog, such interesting photos and words. Thanks for your work!


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