The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland

6 NightsBeginner to AdvancedFrom £2,800 GBP?Tour costs £2,800 GBP which is approximately $5,084 AUD

This week-long itinerary is THE perfect combination of quality time in the saddle and quintessential Scottish experiences. The pipes are calling, and the Scottish Borders await!

Does your heart race at the thought of seeing Scotland’s legendary countryside from between two pricked ears and a windswept mane? Does the idea of calling a 16th century castle home for a week make your eyes bulge? Then make no mistake: the pipes, the pipes are calling, and the Scottish Borders await! This week-long itinerary is THE perfect combination of quality time in the saddle and quintessential Scottish experiences.

Your equestrian guide, Susy (from our popular Scottish Borders Ride), will lead you through new and astoundingly beautiful landscapes every day, from wild, windy moors to postcard-worthy farmland criss-crossed with ancient stone walls. Susy has an EPIC team of horses, and all abilities are catered for on this trip. Whether you’re an experienced rider eager to pop over a few cross country jumps or a beginner wishing to improve your skills in an awe-inspiring yet safe environment, rest assured, this ride will exceed your expectations.

As for Thirlestane Castle, we’ll leave a few secrets for your hosts, Edward and Sarah Maitland-Carew, to reveal over the course of your time together; but we will tell you this much: it’s been the home of the Maitland family for over 400 years, and your five-star accommodation in the South Wing apartments will have you picking your jaw up off the ground. You’ll have plenty of time to explore this incredible castle during the week, as well as ample opportunities to discover the history-filled, vibrant communities dotted across the Borders. There’s so much culture, history and downright gobsmacking scenery to take in here, and to absorb it all astride a willing, plucky steed is a privilege like no other.

All those in favour say ‘och aye!’

Fast Facts

  • Horse Breed:A mixture of Irish Draught Horses, Irish Cobs, Irish Sport Horses and Connemaras. *Please note, you can expect to ride a variety of horses throughout your departure.
  • Pace:The pace is variable, depending on the nature of the terrain, but riders will enjoy long stretches of trotting and cantering in an English all-purpose saddle.
  • Weight Limit:A maximum of 95kg / 209lbs.
  • Type of tack:English all-purpose saddles.
  • Seasons:August & November.
  • Group size:A minimum and maximum of 10 riding guests. Non-riders may join the off-horse activities with the entire group size being no more than 16.
  • Time in Saddle:Between 2 to 6 hours daily on average.
  • Riding Ability:Suitable for all riding abilities.
    *Beginner riders are expected to be confident rising/posting to the trot and learning to canter. You MUST be confident to ride in an English all-purpose saddle. Riding groups will be split according to ability so everyone feels comfortable.
    **Should you wish to take part in the Lauderdale Hunt meet (November departure) you will need to be a strong intermediate/advanced rider.
     Not sure what your riding experience is? Watch THIS video to find out.
  • Accommodation:You will be staying at the magnificent 16th- century Thirlestane Castle set in a quiet meadow landscape on the outskirts of Lauder in the Scottish Borders, a charming town just over half an hour from the south of Edinburgh. Thirlestane Castle is one of the oldest and finest inhabited castles in Scotland.
    You’ll be staying in the South Wing of the castle which consists of eight bedrooms split into five apartments and has been finished to a five-star standard with exceptional views of the parkland and estate. The rooms have been decorated in a classic but contemporary style. You’ll also have the opportunity to dine in the castle’s portrait-lined State Dining Room and the rustic Victorian Kitchen, looked after by our award-winning caterers. Each apartment also has its own kitchen and sitting room should you wish to relax and make yourself a cup of tea after a long day in the saddle or sight-seeing around the Borders of Scotland.
    PLEASE NOTE: There are 2x twin share rooms and 6x single rooms available. These will be assigned by preference on a first come, first served basis.
  • Ride Length:7 days, 6 nights with 6 riding days.
  • Inclusions:

    The price includes all riding activities, accommodation in a Castle, meals (with the exception of 1x lunch and 2x dinners within the itinerary), private tour of the Castle, and housekeeping every second day.

  • Exclusions:

    The price does not include international flights, travel insurance (compulsory), all transfers, alcohol (BYO is welcome or you can purchase from the Castle’s cellar), 2x dinners and 1x lunch, additional activities on the estate (e.g. spa treatments), and a tour of the Borders (if required). If you have booked on a departure date that involves hunting, please note the hunting cap is not included and will be payable direct to the Hunt Secretary.

 

DEPARTURE DATES & RATES

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*There are 2x twin share rooms and 6x single rooms available. These will be assigned by preference on a first come, first served basis.

PLEASE NOTE: The November departure will see you participating in the Lauderdale Hunt Club’s Opening Meet on the final day of your ride should you wish. There is the option of enjoying a hack in the surrounding countryside if jumping and hunting is not your choice of activities today.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price includes all riding activities, accommodation in a Castle, meals (with the exception of 1x lunch and 2x dinners within the itinerary), private tour of the Castle, and housekeeping every second day.

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price does not include international flights, travel insurance (compulsory), all transfers, alcohol (BYO is welcome or you can purchase from the Castle’s cellar), 2x dinners and 1x lunch, additional activities on the estate (e.g. spa treatments), and a tour of the Borders (if required). If you have booked on a departure date that involves hunting, please note the hunting cap is not included and will be payable direct to the Hunt Secretary.

Accepted payment is by credit or debit card only. There is a 2% surcharge on all card payments. Click HERE to read our recommendations on which cards are best to use to avoid international transaction fees.

WHY IS THE PRICE QUOTED IN GBP?
With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.

Itinerary

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Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.

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  • Day 1

    Don your tartan and fasten your seatbelts, globetrotters, because today you’re driving to the Scottish Borders! A land where the rolling hills shimmer in the dappled, ever-changing light and the rousing music of the pipes still seems to echo across the valleys, the Borders will amaze you from the first moment you lay eyes on it.

    You’ll need to arrive at Thirlestane Castle (yes, you’re staying in a 16th century castle!) by 12:30pm. Here your hosts, Edward and Sarah Maitland-Carew, will give you a true Scottish welcome involving afternoon tea (and cake!) in the panelled dining room. Then there’s time to settle into your room, take a stroll around the gorgeous grounds of the estate, or perhaps even play a game of croquet on the front lawn before changing into your riding clothes.

    At 2:30pm, you’ll head out to meet Susy and her gorgeous team of horses. Once you’ve been paired with your steed, you’ll head off on a three-hour trail ride through the sublimely beautiful countryside surrounding the estate. By the time you dismount you’ll feel a strong connection to both the Borders and your horse.

    Dinner tonight is a relaxed affair in Thirlestane’s rustic Victorian Kitchen. The sharing menu will allow you to sample the talented chefs’ delicious and varied offerings. Then you’re free to enjoy the evening as you wish before sinking contentedly into bed.

  • Day 2

    Waking up in your five-star apartment in the South Wing of Thirlestane Castle, the dream continues as you saunter out to breakfast – a jaw-dropping affair featuring a huge range of sweet, savoury, cooked and continental options. Not to worry, though, you’ll soon work it off with a ride around the estate! Susy will discuss the route options with you to ensure that everyone’s needs and desires are catered for, and those who wish to pop over a few hunt jumps will have ample opportunity to do so.

    Afterwards, a lunch of soup and sandwiches will be served at the castle, then you’ll have a few hours to enjoy however you please.

    The piercing sound of the bagpipes will summon you to the state drawing room this evening, where the Castle’s piper will give you a true Scottish welcome while you sit back and enjoy a tipple. Then you’ll enter the lavish state dining room for a feast that’s as Scottish as Billy Connolly. Your hosts will even toast the haggis – a tradition involving reading poetry to the freshly-cooked haggis before digging in!

  • Day 3

    After another filling breakfast at the Castle, you’ll jump in your car and head to the beach (about a 50min drive from Thirlestane). Yes, that’s right Globetrotters, today you’ll get to explore the Scottish coastline from the back of your horse. Let’s hope the Scottish sun is shining, because John Muir Country Park is an unspoilt haven where farmland kisses the sea – perfect for long beach canters and wading in the shallows.

    After your ride, you might wish to slip up into Dunbar and have a drink at Winterfield golf club, perched atop the hillside with beautiful views over the beach and surrounding national park. Then you’ll need to zoom back to Thirlestane, where you’ll be treated to a private guided tour of the castle with your host, Edward Maitland-Carew. The stories and secrets within these walls will astound you, and you’ll come away with a new appreciation for your surrounds.

    This evening you’re free to spend it however you wish. We recommend heading into the local village of Lauder for dinner at a traditional Scottish pub (dinner and transport tonight is not included in the ride price – but the pay-off is the chance to totally immerse yourself in local life). Your hosts at the Castle – Sarah and Edward – will be able to offer some wonderful recommendations for you to try, just ask!

  • Day 4

    After your big night out, you’ll be able to sleep in this morning, then enjoy a late breakfast while mulling over your options for the day. If you wish, you can ride out with Susy in the late morning, or you can take the entire day off. Lunch today is not included in the ride price and can be enjoyed at your leisure.

    Although there is plenty to do at the Castle, if you’ve chosen to have a rest day off the horse, then we highly recommend making the most of your hire car (if you’ve opted for this) and touring the Borders. Local attractions include the towns of Melrose, Hawick and Jedburgh, The Rosslyn Chapel, and plenty of tweed and cashmere mills and shops to satisfy both the craftsperson and the avid shopper. Your costs for the day are at your own expense, but your hosts, Edward and Sarah, are more than happy to help you design the perfect day out. Everyone at the Castle is a wealth of knowledge, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice and recommendations!

    You’ll regroup at Thirlestane in the evening, and depending on the weather, dinner will be either a barbeque in the courtyard or another laid-back meal in the Victorian Kitchen.

  • Day 5

    Today, Susy’s team will take you riding on the Castle moor, a rugged, wild landscape where your horse’s surefootedness will really come into play. You’ll tuck into lunch in a bothy – a small wooden hut on the moor, where the isolation and starkness of winters gone by is very easily imagined.

    After riding back to the Castle (with opportunities to canter along the way), the afternoon is yours – enjoy the cosy lounge room and beautiful outlook of your apartment, squeeze in a few more games of croquet, or perhaps take a leisurely drive through the countryside.

    Tonight there is the option to take the train from Stow to Edinburgh for a tasty meal and a wander through this enchanting city (at your own expense). If you wish to do so, you’ll need to be ready to leave in the early evening. You can self-drive to Stow railway station or catch a taxi and train tickets can be bought onboard. And for those who fancy a quiet night in, a beautiful home-baked meal is on offer for around £15 per person, ready for you to pop in the oven in your apartment’s fully-equipped kitchen.

  • Day 6

    For your last day of riding, Susy is taking you out onto Lauder Common. Here you’ll traverse the Common Ride trails, and the thunder of galloping hooves and the cry of the pipes will seem to echo over the stonewalled hills. Those who wish to canter will have ample opportunity to loosen the reins and fly across the plush green fields, while the rest carry on at slower pace. Dismounting at the top of a hill, you’ll savour a picnic lunch (provided by the amazing team at the Castle) while taking in the gorgeous views over Lauderdale and Thirlestane. Then you’ll get back in the saddle one last time and ride back to the estate, where you’ll say a fond farewell to the horse who has carried you on your Scottish journey.

    A final gala dinner will be prepared for you tonight, with drinks sipped in the state drawing room and your meal served in the state dining room. Then you’ll retire to your apartment to dream of the week’s incredible adventures.

    **NB: On the November 2021 departure, today’s ride will be participating in the Opening Meet of the Lauderdale Hunt which is held at Thirlestane. Cap fees are not included in the ride price. For those of you who wish not to participate in the hunt or who’s jumping skills are not quite up to scratch, there is the option of riding around the jumps, or a member of Susy’s team can take you on a trail ride instead.

  • Day 7

    This morning you’ll enjoy one last delicious breakfast at Thirlestane before checking out. You’ll bid a fond farewell to Edward, Sarah and the Castle team, say goodbye to your fellow globetrotters (who have no doubt become firm friends) and head off on your merry way through this now-familiar patch of Scottish paradise. Haste ye back, globetrotters!

  • Transfers

    We recommend flying to Edinburgh as this is the closest international airport to where this ride is based. Then there are two options when it comes to transfers for this ride – either hiring a car or opting for the taxi transfer service arranged by your ride hosts.

    With a hire car you’ll have the freedom to explore local towns and historical attractions in your down time.

    Alternatively, you can opt for a transfer service at £125 GBP per person. This includes round trip transfers from Edinburgh Airport on the first and last day of the itinerary (specific pick up/drop off times apply), as well as a transfer to the beach near Dunbar on the day you ride there. Please note, this option does NOT include any other transfers, whether that be to a local restaurant/pub in a nearby town on the nights you’re free to spend at your leisure, or to a local hunt meet should you wish to take part in one during your stay. You will be required to catch a taxi if so desired.

    Globetrotting is happy to provide a competitive quote on international flights, travel insurance, car hire (if required) and accommodation before and after your ride.

  • Non-Riders

    This itinerary is suitable for non-riders who have their own car – the region is ripe with history and Thirlestane Castle is a suitable base for a number of day trips around the area. Be sure to liaise with your hosts, Edward and Sarah, for some Scottish-inspired activities. The non-rider price consists of all standard inclusions in the rider package (i.e. meals, accommodation, extra activities within the itinerary etc.) minus the riding element.

STORIES FROM THE SADDLE

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