I had discovered Wilder Ways a few years back whilst exploring the idea of a riding holiday with my daughter to mark a special occasion. Though a keen rider in younger years, I hadn’t been on a horse for some time and my confidence levels had worn thin, whereas she had turned into the same horse obsessed dare devil I had once been.
When I came across the Wilder Ways website with all the different adventures, pictures of past excursions and the herd and Nikki and Cara at the helm, I knew we had found our tribe and the place. Unfortunately the pandemic delayed things slightly due to fewer rides on offer, albeit Nikki was most accommodating in trying to squeeze us in, but we had our hearts set on Knoydart, so we waited.
Finally, in May 2022, we set off from London to Mallaig via Glasgow, an unforgettable journey in itself and a magical start to our adventure. When we got to Knoydart we first met our co-riders, whom we hit it off with straight away, sharing our thoughts on our expectations and fears, our riding histories etc. Our accommodation proved to be luxurious and comfortable: a generous and welcoming modern cottage with several bedrooms and en-suite facilities, as well as a big open living room/kitchen. All our breakfasts and most evening meals would be served there, just outside our room, looking out over the fields and into the hills. We couldn’t have wished for a nicer setting or more convenient set up. Other meals were also fab, either in a nearby restaurant or the local pub, watching the sun set on our last evening, complete with folk music from a very cool bunch of young musicians and a pool tournament.
From the moment we were joined by our riding hosts Nikki and Cara, we all knew we were in safe hands: Firm, but incredibly warm, passionate and with an irresistible sense of humour, they laid down ground rules, safety and etiquette around the horses. We were introduced to the herd and the horses that we would ride for the duration of our stay. Raven and Roxy became our best friends for the next few days.
Each day offered us a new type of different terrain to conquer, becoming more challenging as we progressed and with it came new things we had to learn. Nikki and Cara taught and kept reminding us how we could help the horses do their job and the importance of good horsemanship, but also the relevance of trusting in ourselves and our horse. Our ride around the peninsula took us through breathtakingly beautiful scenery from lush valleys, across beaches, hills and moors and culminated in a swim in the sea on horseback. We were always given the option to miss a canter if we did not feel like it, but there were also plenty of opportunities to really go for it. I was amazed to discover how agile my sturdy cob proved to be, climbing and traversing uneven ground. We would stop for lunch and untack, allowing the horses and ourselves a well deserved break.
I think the idea of letting go of fear and allowing ourselves to surrender to the experience meant a lot to some of us and it felt great to have the collective experience of the results with such a lovely group of women. In the evenings we shared stories of the day, of life back home, as well as how to soothe sore legs and sunburnt noses and before we knew it, we were a team.
We both came home happy, windswept, feeling strong and a bit more brave and I really hope we get to go back at some point soon. Thank you Wilder Ways!
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