The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland

6 NightsBeginner to AdvancedFrom £3,020 GBP?Tour costs £3,020 GBP which is approximately $5,343 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 Draughts, Irish Cobs, Irish Sport Horses and Connemaras. *Please note, you can expect to ride a variety of horses throughout your holiday.
  • Pace:The pace is variable depending on the nature of the terrain, but riders will enjoy long stretches of trotting and cantering.
  • 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:On average, between 2 to 6 hours daily.
  • 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 (October 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 accommodated in the South Wing of the castle, which consists of eight bedrooms split into five apartments with exceptional views of the parkland and estate. The rooms have been decorated in a classic but contemporary style and finished to a five-star standard. You’ll have the opportunity to dine in the castle’s portrait-lined State Dining Room and the rustic Victorian Kitchen, looked after by 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 of riding or sight-seeing.
    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.



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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 October 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.

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.

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.

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.


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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!) between 12.30 – 2pm. 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 or take a stroll around the gorgeous grounds of the estate, 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 range of 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.

    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.

  • 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 making your way back to the Castle, the afternoon is yours – enjoy the cosy lounge room and beautiful outlook of your apartment, 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 October 2022 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 whose 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!

  • November Hunt Ride

    The November 24 to 30, 2022 departure is a special Hunt itinerary for strong intermediate to advanced riders only. In this itinerary you’ll take part in not one, but TWO hunts with the local Scottish community.

    On Saturday November 26, you’ll hunt with with one of the oldest clubs in Scotland, across vast windswept moors, sprawling livestock fields, hills of purple heather and grandiose estates. It’s going to be fast-paced and exhilarating as you gallop alongside dozens of other horses and riders in pursuit of the hounds! Susy and her team will be there to answer any questions you may have and assist with anything you require. Don’t forget your hip flask!

    And on Tuesday November 29, your final hunt will be with the local club, a rollicking hunt crossing heather-covered moors, picturesque rivers and easy-riding farmland, with views across the Borders that will blow you away. The friendly locals will give you a warm welcome and it’s likely that the hunt will conclude with a tipple and something delicious to tide you over until your triumphant return to Thirlestane Castle.

    **Hunt cap fees are NOT included in the ride price, but are priced at £75 (Saturday) and £60 (Tuesday) respectively, payable in cash direct to the hunt secretary the morning of each hunt.

  • Transfers

    We recommend flying to Edinburgh as this is the closest international airport to where this ride is based. You’ll then need to hire a car to drive to/from the estate. With a hire car you’ll have the freedom to explore local towns and historical attractions in your down time.

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

  • Non-Riders

    This itinerary is a brilliant holiday option for non-riders – the region is ripe with history and Thirlestane Castle is a suitable base for a number of day trips around the area (a hire car is recommended for non-riders).

    There’s plenty to do/see/explore in the region, including (but not limited to):
    *Melrose Abbey – a 12th Century monastery
    *Borders Distillery – the first whisky distillery in the Scottish Borders since 1837 which also produces gin and vodka. A personal tour and private tasting can be arranged.
    *Floors Castle and Walled Gardens, Kelso – the largest inhabited castle in Scotland (larger than Thirlestane…and that’s saying something, you’ll understand when you see it!!)
    *Rosslyn Chapel – a 15th Century chapel made famous by the Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code.
    *Renown golf courses all within a short drive away.
    *Guided fishing in the River Tweed.
    And much, MUCH more!
    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.
Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scottish Borders, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Emily Schilling

‘Who said dreams can’t come true?! This was my post-breast cancer dream trip and it fulfilled even my wildest dreams! I stayed in a beautiful apartment fit for a queen. Our guides Gemma and Suzy were wonderful and matched everyone so well with their horses. My horse Kingston was was so surefooted and fun. We not only galloped on the beaches of the North Sea but through the Moors! Amazing scenery and history. Our hosts Edward and Sarah and their staff made us feel like family. All the food was delicious and local. Best of all, our group of globetrotters was great! I feel like I have made life-long friends. I can’t wait to go globetrotting again!’

The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Fiona Roderick

‘I really enjoyed the Thirlestane Castle Ride. From coming back from a ride to a fire and a cup of tea welcoming you, to having dinner with the custodians of the castle, everything was perfect. My apartment was very beautiful and comfortable. Each day I loved getting back in the saddle. The staff and the guides were superb, it was such a great experience and the countryside is spectacular.’

Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Renee Lewis

‘The Thirlestane Castle Ride was a dream.  Really – pinch me! The Castle itself was a magnificent home and a perfect base with luxurious rooms, plenty of space and incredible architecture. The closest thing to a princess I will ever be! It was so nice to have a glass of wine in the Vault, and the dinners in the magnificent State Dining Room were so special. The riding was wonderful. Whether exploring the estate grounds, galloping up the moors (with a little sloe gin warm up midway), trotting among the sheep, popping over a nice cross country fence, or running along the beach, the horses were big, solid, steady and forward. My buddies, Socrates and Titan, were just lovely – light in the hand, so surefooted and willing, with plenty of go and good brakes! The magic of our love of horses and adventure created friendships among globetrotters from Australia to the UK to the US. Thank you Kate and Laura! I will always treasure Thirlestane and I can’t wait for the next adventure.’

The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Barbara Nissel

‘This was my first Globetrotting trip and it was fantastic. Everyone at the castle, from Edward and Sarah to the chefs and the housekeeping staff, was very professional, very warm and extremely helpful. The estate was like a fairyland, yet you felt like you were in a person’s home, and I greatly appreciated that. I rode Eva and she was wonderful. The rides were good – or better than good, they were exhilarating! I’m 65 and they stretched my comfort zone just enough to give me great confidence at the end of it all. I am now looking forward to my next Globetrotting adventure.’

The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Diana Hendry

‘The Thirlestane Castle Ride was a dream come true. I enjoyed fresh air (a little rain), beautiful scenery, congenial companions, and tremendous fun and excitement riding over the moors on a wonderful 16 hand Irish Sport Horse named Rocco. The accommodations at the Castle were very comfortable and the staff were helpful and friendly. I could not recommend this trip more highly and I may even do it again!’

Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Hope Towle

‘Just wrapped up my first Globetrotting adventure with the Thirlestane Castle Ride in Scotland! I can’t tell you how much fun all of us had had during the week. Suzy’s horses were phenomenal in every way; Gemma, Jamie, and Izzy were lovely, accommodating guides; and the facilities were comfy and beautiful. As a beginner rider who trained almost exclusively in the arena, this ride pushed me far outside of my comfort zone, but I couldn’t recommend it enough! Adonis, my horse for the week, took great care of me, and got us both home safely each day. If you are on the fence, definitely push yourself to take this ride. And leave a few days to explore Edinburgh, even if it’s just for the food and whisky. Very much worth it!’

The Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Alicia Turner

‘If you are on the fence about booking a riding holiday or are apprehensive about traveling alone, hop off the fence and book it NOW!! I see now why Globetrotting has so many repeat customers; on my trip alone, out of eight people, four had previously been on Globetrotting rides and a fifth was already booked for a future ride. The horses were fantastic, the accommodations were quite literally palatial, the food was top notch, and the camaraderie and friendships formed were life affirming. Our guides were a wealth of knowledge, excellent storytellers, consummate professionals and wonderful conversationalists. I rode Turner the entire week and we could not have been more perfectly suited for each other. As game as he was, he was so, so rideable – he was never, ever strong in the bridle, and even though he was an incredibly keen jumper with huge scope, he always listened. This ride was a once in a lifetime experience!’

Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Christina Bock

‘I had so much fun on the Thirlestane Castle Ride, we had a good group where everyone got along famously. We were all thrilled to get to go to the Ceilidh! But it was also fun to have some quiet time to talk to the locals. The apartment at Thirlestane was absolutely perfect and the staff were incredibly helpful and kind. Susy and Gemma were super accommodating and really fun to be around. I rode Yanis the whole time, at my own request. I truly had the time of my life and I can’t wait to do it again in six months!’

Thirlestane Castle Ride, Scotland - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Maddie Mckinney

‘I loved every minute of this ride! Everything was better than expected. The rooms were luxurious and all the food was super fresh. Our guides were great, and so much fun. They allowed us a lot of riding freedom while keeping us safe. I rode Alexandros, who was big and powerful and so steady. All the horses were extremely well looked after. The level of care shown is exactly what I hope to see on all riding holidays. I would most definitely do this ride again!’