a horse named Rosie...
I saw fresh water reach
salt for myself the next morning. Cathy had arranged a ride
up to Selworthy Beacon, and had already introduced me to Rosie,
the Welsh Cob who was my mount. She'd also tactfully suggested
before I arrived in the U.K. that I brush up on my English
With my teenaged riding
lessons some 15 years behind me, I'd taken her advice. Riding
in Canada at the National Capital Equestrian Park's arena,
I was amazed at how much I remembered. The real test, however,
was to come.
Thanks to being 5'9"
tall, I was able to plant my foot in the left stirrup and
hoist myself into Rosie's saddle without any embarrassing
boosts. But what had seemed easy in the arena back home required
more attention here: "Tighten up on the reins," Cathy reminded
set off through the woods, first walking, then trotting. Rosie
seemed intent on putting her head down and she occasionally
balked at hills, but we got on well, with me feeling more
like the driver than a passenger. (Horses are notorious for
knowing the difference.)
red mud and soft rainshowers...
"Want to canter?" invited
Cathy, as I admired the view. Yes, I did, and Rosie needed
no urging. I gave new meaning to "gripping with my thighs"
as a thick red mud, courtesy of the storm, splattered up around
us. I couldn't wipe the exhilarated grin off my face when
we slowed: I'd stayed on, enjoyed myself, and only had a split-second
when my adrenaline surged from thinking I was losing my seat.
soft rainshower embraced us as we later rode down through
the woods beside a rushing, rock-strewn brook. Rosie had allowed
me to see much more of the countryside than I could have on
foot, yet I was still open to nature's sounds, scents and
touches, and I didn't mind the rain.
The path home took us
through Allerford, where I'd first debated with the stream.
It flowed faster, fuller, today, and as I urged Rosie through
the foot-deep water, I realized I'd come full circle.
I'd arrived in England
hoping to reconnect with a country that was once my home.
But in Exmoor, I reconnected with the land itself.
A Lovely Bed and Breakfast
The bed & breakfast at
Exmoor Falconry & Animal Farm comprises three rooms (two double
and one twin-bedded) that share one well-equipped main bathroom.
Rates range from �17.50 to �25 per person, per night, and
include a delicious full English breakfast. The farm permits
dogs -- and even horses, should they be travelling with you.
hawk walks, horseback riding and wildlife safaris can also
bearranged through the Farm, which has an extensive range
of domestic and exotic animals and birds. You can reach Cathy
and Glenn Powell at 011441643 862816 (phone and fax), or check
out their website at http://www.exmoorfalconry.co.uk/.
Best Riding Places:
is one of the best places for riding in England, with miles
of trails and dozens of riding establishments. Several are
listed in the British Tourist Authority's "Riding Holidays
" brochure, available from their many offices around the world.
These bags are made for walking:
won't go far in Exmoor without realizing what a great invention
boot bags are. Parking the car and heading off on one of the
myriad footpaths usually means wet and muddy footwear, making
a shoe change essential. Plastic carrier bags for your boots
will keep the mud out of the car, but you can also buy rugged,
breathable boot bags for this purpose. I found an excellent
sample for about �10 at the Exmoor National Park shop in nearby
Lorna Doone Country:
For the literary minded,
bring along a copy of R.D. Blackmore's "Lorna Doone," set
in the area of Exmoor's Badgworthy Water. (Copies of the book
are also readily available in Exmoor for as little as 99p.)
Travellers cheques come in handy:
Although English automated
banking machines resemble those back home, don't count on
them. Despite displaying your banking network's insignia,
they may give you a "not accessible" message. Even in this
electronic age, travellers cheques are still useful.
Make very sure you
pack an umbrella and a raincoat!