Good weather is not a vacation guarantee. (A disgruntled cruiser e-mailed me and a number of other travel editors recently to complain after Carnival changed his sailing itinerary because of -- a hurricane forecast. One of the other travel editors responded with "What, would you have preferred to get hit?'')
So when it poured in Manchester this morning, a group of colleagues and I gamely pulled on our waterproofs and headed out horse riding on the Mary Towneley Loop, a bridleway for horses, cyclists and walkers opened in 2002 in the nearby Pennines.
Mary Towneley was a Lancashire woman who fought for public access for horseriders, though she died of cancer before the path opened.
Public access via horse or foot through lands that are often private is a particularly British idea, but it's a lovely one. Like the paths I walked through the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, the Mary Towneley Loop offers spectacular views across a rural countryside that would otherwise be impassible.
The Loop runs 48 miles, and riding it all takes about five days, we learned from our guide, Chris Thomas, who offers both bed-and-breakfast and horse-riding trips. Thomas saddles guests up onto stout, short-legged Fells Ponies ... a breed now so rare that on some lists they're endangered.
Our own damp ride took us past farms both bucolic and dingy, with a beautiful canter up above the moors and down to a picturesque resevoir. The ponies were calm and cheery, with an easy gait.
English weather is a changeable thing, and before our six-hour trip was over we passed through mist, drizzle and even blinding sunlight.
But the greatest miracle wasn't the clearing skies. As we started out on our journey, we passed a cow with a heavy bladder who seemed to be struggling. When we returned, we watched her newborn calf take its first steps.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Posted by DARCOS CRUZ at 8:56 AM