Picnic rides in the heart of Surrey
This ride is suitable for novice riders who are comfortable in walk and trot. It can also be tailored for a more adventurous and competent group who want the opportunity to canter. We run these days from Tuesday – Friday, but need four riders to make it viable. If you have a date in mind, please let us know and we will do our best to fill it.
Leaving at 11.00 after a quick assessment of new riders, we set off to Headley where we can ride a circuit around Headley Heath, an area of about 300 hectares, mentioned in the Doomsday book as Hallega, ‘a clearing with heather’. It is made up of acid lowland heath and dry chalk grassland which is one of the most endagered habitats across the world. Galloway cattle graze the area as part of a conservation project, but they are gentle and the horses are generally used to them.
The staff will meet us at our lunch spot at the caravan on Headley Heath for our pre ordered lunch. They serve pretty much anything from jacket potatoes, burger and chips to cream teas and there are cakes and ice cream for dessert! A champagne and cold meat lunch can be ordered in advance at an extra £20 per head.
Our other route skirts Headley Heath and takes us through Nower Wood, an Educational Reserve, where we head to Mickleham Downs. The remains of ancient barrows, thought to date to the Bronze Age, have been found by Archaeologists in this area and we ride along Stane Street, an old Roman road costructed around 43AD.
Both routes generally return via Epsom Downs, where is opportunity for a canter for the more experienced riders, or the less adventurous can return via a bridleway alongside the Woodland Trust Centenary Forest where over 200,000 trees have been planted to commemorate those who lost their lives in World War 1. The fields have been undersown with poppies and wildflowers and the blubells are stunning on this ride in the spring!
Get ready now!
Book a few lessons to tune up
For the more experienced riders, we can ride to Walton Heath and Colley Hill with a stop at The Sportsman pub for lunch, the site of one of Henry V111’s hunting lodges. The view from Colley Hill looks across the North Downs Way to the south coast. We are lucky to be in the midst of this area with so many options to ride with very little roadwork!
Mickleham Downs – a beautiful National Trust area with yew trees and evergreen forest. Some massive trees still lie where they fell in the 1987 hurricane, providing a habitat for wildlife. On Headley Heath, the landscape changes to silver birch, oak trees, heather and gorse.
There are benches to sit on to enjoy your lunch and they are also handy for climbing back into the saddle after your break! After lunch we head back on bridleways, skirting the Headley Cricket pitch. A short trot on the road towards Headley Church brings us to the bridleway that takes us back to the Centre past the Mid-Surrey Pony Club field. We arrive back at around 15.00. There are times when we need to ride on quiet country roads for short periods, but this hack is mainly off road on National Trust land. We run this ride throughout the year, but around early May is the time for bluebells and the autumn gold colours of September are extra special!