As part of a visit to the Quantock Hills in Somerset, I was kindly invited to spend some time with the team at Quantock Trekking, a wonderful company who offer pony treks across the Quantocks to groups of all ages and abilities.
I’m not exactly a horse rider: I’m fairly clumsy and my ability to control animals goes no further than getting a dog to sit while I pet them. But I really love animals. Anything that’s alive (and usually a little bit fluffy) is adorable. However, I am allergic to anything with fur. Even going into a house where furry animals live makes me sneeze. So when I was asked to go on a pony trek in Somerset I was slightly hesitant to say the least. But antihistamines were made for a reason so I stocked up in preparation.
After spending a rather grey afternoon walking in the Quantocks the day before, it was so relieving to wake up to a dazzling blue sky the morning of our trek. I’m a massive advocate for getting outdoors even in bad weather but there’s something so disheartening about a grey sky. So a bright blue one with barely a cloud in sight was pretty good luck for mid-November trek. So we packed the car and made our way to Quantock Trekking.
West Bagborough, where the company are based, was really easy to find - very well signposted from the main roads. We had a little bit of trouble finding the stables themselves as you need to turn up what looks like a driveway from the road. There is a sign but in our excitement over the good weather and our forthcoming adventure, we missed it.
As we arrived, we were greeted by Jill who was friendly and welcoming. She gave us some guidance on where to park the car and was thrilled that I had taken an antihistamine so would be able to go for the ride. Jill clearly loves her business and takes great care of the yard and horses. Her enthusiasm for riding is infectious. As the horses were being prepared for the trek she was chatting away about the other riders who were around on the yard taking care of the 15 trek horses. Each one has a name on the door and they were all very friendly, making it very easy to quickly fall in love with a pony.
As Jill was chatting to us we were slowly prepped for the ride, just as our horses were being saddled up. There was full safety equipment, helmet and body padding, all sized up to fit snugly. Our chatting meant that before I knew it I was on a horse waiting to head out into the Quantocks.
Once we were out of the yard, Dave quickly explained that they take all riders along the road first so that they can get accustomed to their horse and if there are any problems, they can be straightened out then and there. It was great that so much care was taken to ensure we were comfortable on our ride and, of course, ensuring that the horses were comfortable too.
Then we got to the fun part.
On horseback we walked along the bridleways, through gorgeous autumnal colours with great views of the Quantock hills rising above us. As we began to climb through the trees, Jill and Dave pointed out certain spots of interest through the trees. We continued to the very top of the hills, a point called Wills Neck. This is the highest point of the Quantocks. Boy, was it beautiful. From here we could see across to Minehead on one side, Cardiff across the water in front of us and Bristol to the other side. It was a clear day and an amazing experience.
We were even joined by some of the Quantocks’ wild ponies whilst exploring the hills. They love interacting with visitors and make for some stunning photos when included in the landscape.
It seemed like no time at all but we were actually trekking for around 2 hours. Once we’d returned we were in desperate need of some lunch. Jill and Dave kindly recommended the Rising Sun Inn, just around the corner. With amazing food, a fire and lots of Somerset ciders, the Rising Sun was the perfect place to spend the afternoon grazing on our late lunch and talking about our day out.