Lot Valley, April 2009
Emma Thompson, Far and Ride
I took a cheap and easy flight with Ryanair from London Stansted to Rodez and the transfer to the gite took 45 minutes. On arrival in the evening I walked into a relaxed atmosphere to find people talking around the roaring wood burner. Amongst the guests there were two sisters, Vanessa and Jayne on their sixth visit and one of Far and Ride’s good friends on her second visit to the Lot Valley, following her first visit at Christmas time.
I was handed a glass of wine and sat down at the large wooden dining table for an introductory chat, whilst eating some snacks which consisted of some seriously tasty homemade pate, fresh bread, Toulouse sausage, homemade quiche and a selection of cheeses. After the travelling, chatting, food and drink it was time to retire to my suitably comfortable bedroom. All rooms are en-suite, they provide towels, offer large mirrors and hairdryers (important for some!!). The furniture throughout the gite is traditional in its French style with an air of shabby chic in the bedrooms.
The morning started with a continental breakfast around 9am before it was time to meet the horses. Derek goes off to whistle his horses up from the Valley, with this they appear a few minutes later; a sign of his fantastic relationship with the horses. I was introduced to my first horse, Kommador a 15hh Spanish type and a real sweetie. As all of these horses lead a natural lifestyle it was time to groom and pick out their feet (of course if you really don’t want to do this, you don’t have to); I always enjoy spending a little time bonding with the horses that look after you during your visit.
We set off to Opel’s corner, this is one of the morning or half day rides, taking you through country roads, tracks and forest paths. After a delicious lunch of homemade soup and fresh bread, the afternoon followed with a two hour ride, through steep terrain of the valley, forest and crossing the flowing river. The day ended with a sociable and relaxed evening, again by the fire and round the large dining table with good company, mouth watering food and drink.
The following days were spent riding El Nino (a 16 hh, 9 year old Andalucian, with character and sparkle) and Maluga, a beautiful and well mannered bay mare. The riding offered a mixture of full day rides and half day ride, each offering new and spectacular views, with some opportunities for some good gallops (should you wish) and time to splash around in the river. Lunches were either substantial picnics or home cooked back in the comfort the gite, where dinner was always served.
The Druhle day ride offers fantastic scenery through the valley; open countryside, passing farms, crossing streams, following natural tracks through the forest, and finally reaching a pictureque destination on a farm. I can only describe this as ‘Black Beauty’ country, where the horses have acres of pasture to roam whilst you enjoy a well deserved picnic lunch in the farm’s courtyard. The Grottes de Fossac again offers stunning views and scenery, riding through villages where you will find beautiful cottages and relaxed village people. This was a faster days ride, full of excitement. At the picnic site, an area was penned off for the horses and a large and tasty picnic was served.
There are a variety of horses here all with individual personalities and some characters in the herd. The scenery is absolutely stunning and varied, each ride is different and offers an individual beauty of its own. Derek is always looking out to source new rides and paths, to keep the ever returning clients amused and the new clients stunned by their surroundings. Anne’s homemade dishes are fresh and delicious, using local produce and ingredients. Dishes range from soups, to hearty stews, fish dishes, snails for those who dare to modern duck dishes and picnics to die for. A homely atmosphere with a taste for good food and drink compliments the perfect riding in this stunning setting.
This really is an absolutely first class experience from start to finish. This riding holiday offers something for everyone from rider to non rider, beginners through to the advanced riders. I could have written this report in a very short format and simply say this is one European ride not to be missed!
If you love to ride great horses in fantastic country side and enjoy exceptional company then I highly recommend you visit this fabulous ride.
Read more about the ride here: Lot Valley.