ILDRA (Irish Long Distance Riding Association) returned for a second time this year to the magnificent Fermanagh estate of Florencecourt in the West of the country on September 23. Following on from Storm Ali and its change in the weather patterns, an autumnal feel hinted in the air, with the ancient trees of Florencecourt bearing a spectrum of ombré colours. A few drizzly showers passed throughout the day, however spirits on the day were not dampened.
Several pleasure riders turned up to enjoy the sprawling and endless trails offered by this venue. A vast array of riders and horses turned up of all ages to enjoy the safe off-road hacking offered here and at so many of ILDRA’s rides. Venturing through the woodland areas of the estate, riders passed over the idyllic Claddagh River by quaint wooden bridges and by splashing through streams. Climbing Benaughlin Mountain up towards Cuilcagh Way offered riders views of the impressive mountainous backdrop surrounding the estate.
A climb led up to a viewpoint offering stunning views across the Fermanagh and Monaghan landscape.
A descent through the forest trails of the mountains led to the famous Irish Yew Tree, this tree was one of the last survivors taken from the Cuilcagh Mountain.
From this one tree, thousands of Irish Yew Trees have descended worldwide, as Irish Yew Trees are only propagated through cuttings. Fleeting glimpses of the magnificent country house of the Florencecourt Estate were visible through the mixed woodland, as riders once again passed by the Claddagh River before passing alongside the natural spring well known as Lady Well.
Like all ILDRA rides, whether you are a keen pleasure rider or an avid endurance rider, all of the venues visited by Ulster Branch are some of the hidden gems of off-road riding in Northern Ireland. These rides give equestrians the opportunity to enjoy safe riding in beautiful locations, spending quality time with their horses and friends.
Many thanks go to the organisers Kirsten and Kathy Conly for marking and running the ride on the day. Thanks also go to the National Trust and the Forestry Service for allowing access to the Florencecourt Estate. ILDRA still has several rides left for the 2018 season throughout October and November, including Knockmany Forest Park, Gosford Forest Park and Delamont Country Park. For further information on dates and locations, please see ILDRA’s facebook page or visit the website at www.enduranceriding ireland.com