We rent out a four-berth horse-drawn caravan with cooking and sleeping facilities on a self-drive basis. Our visitors come to us and take a horse and caravan out for short breaks of 4 days or full trips of 1-2 weeks, explore and enjoy the Wicklow countryside and then bring them back to us. The price we charge includes the rental of horse and caravan, the provision of bottled gas for the gas-lamps and cooker, bedclothes and fodder for the horse. Not included in the price is the cost of food - this is a self-catering holiday. Also not included is the payment due to farmers for letting the horse graze on their fields when the horse and caravan are off the road and for the use of their other facilities such as sanitation and rubbish disposal.
Riding horses can also be hired but only in combination with taking a caravan. While the caravan is travelling on the open road, a riding horse cannot be tied to the caravan for road safety reasons. It must be ridden or lead separately. There are ample opportunities to enjoy the beauties of County Wicklow on horseback when the caravan is parked.
No - over 70% of our new visitors have no horse experience at all. Obviously, people booking this kind of holiday are prepared to get their hands dirty and bring with them a commitment to learn about and work with a horse and also bring a healthy amount of practical common sense. Before you start on the comprehensive 'horse instruction', we will have talked with you and will match you with a horse suitable for your chosen route and for your horse experience or lack of it. Our training is such that we have confidence that our visitors will be capable of working their horse and enjoying their holiday and we try to impart this same confidence to our visitors as well before they leave our base.
Our caravans have daytime seating for four to six and night-time sleeping accommodation for four in two double-bunks or in one double-bunk and two single-bunks (one over the other). There is a small kitchen area with a twin-burner butane gas cooker with grill. Cooking pots, a frying-pan, a kettle and a teapot are stored under the sink with the water container. Crockery and cutlery for five is stored in the top of four pullout drawers. There is hanging space for full-length clothes as well as four shelves for storage. Bedding is kept in the boxes under the seat-cushions at the fold-down rear table. We provide duvets or sleeping-bags, pillows as well as the appropriate bed-linen but not towels. There are no toilets in the caravan - our visitors avail of facilities at the overnight stops and at pubs, etc. en route. Two gaslights provide gentle lighting at night.
All our caravans have the same design and are equipped with similar contents. We make special provision for families with three children under 15 by offering extra bedding and an extra bunk to allow two adults and the three children to occupy a caravan at no extra charge. On the outside, the caravan has seating for two drivers in front and provision for storing horse-fodder, the gas-bottle(s) and horse-harness at the back. The gas-bottles must always be switched shut whenever the caravan is in motion and before the occupants go to bed at night. The caravan is pulled by one horse harnessed to a pair of shafts connected to the caravan via a rotatable platform. The wheels are pneumatic, being adapted car parts.
It should be noted that the design of horse caravans varies quite substantially depending on the operator. Some caravans, for example, have candles for lighting where ours have gaslights. Some pictures in the "Horse Caravan Booklet" are not of our caravans, whereas those in the "Photo Album" are.
Our season is from late spring to mid-autumn (mid-fall in US English). It takes the best part of a day to teach and train our visitors on the essentials of caring and driving the horse, to brief them on the many attractions of this area and to help them make an optimum choice of route. We do this work only on certain days of the week. We normally make caravans available to our visitors at 4 PM (16:00) on the day of arrival and ask that the caravan be vacated at 10 am (10:00) on the day of departure. These times can be varied by prior arrangement. For precise details both on the rental season and on the starting days, please look at a current price list on this page.
Our visitors usually arrive at our base around 16:00 or 4 PM. We are flexible in this and try to adapt to our visitors' needs. Some people arrive much earlier, some much later - we would like to know in advance if this is going to happen. We have a transfer arrangement with local taxi companies which transport our visitors to and from Dublin, Dublin Airport, Dublin Ferry-port and Dun Laoghaire Ferry-port in the early morning of our starting days for departing guests and in the early afternoons for arrivals. Visitors booked on a transfer from Dublin Airport should note that they should find their driver at the 'Meeting Point' beside the information desk in the airport arrivals hall. Please also refer to the answer on this page on obtaining food. Anyone wishing to avail of this transfer arrangement should give us good notice - the cost of transfers can be found in our price lists - refer to What does it cost? on this page.
Some visitors have their own transport. They should also read the answer on obtaining food.
It is also possible to travel to our farm by public transport, both by bus and train. From Dublin airport or Dublin city you can travel with Bus Eireann bus number 133 to our local village of Ashford. In Ashford you can shop for supplies in the CENTRA shop approx 100m from the bus stop. We can organize a taxi to bring you from Ashford to the farm once we know you have arrived there (you can ask a member of staff in the shop to call us). This taxi run costs approx 25.
Alternatively, you can travel with the Dublin/Rosslare train to the village of Rathdrum.. You can shop for provisions in the village and we can organize a taxi to bring you to the farm once we know you have arrived there.
For those planning to travel to us with a rental car, you can find directions and a map on our Find Us page. Please note that there are no shopping facilities on the farm so it is advisable to shop en route. We offer parking on our farm but please be advised that it is at your own risk.
Jeans and pullovers are the most suitable clothes. Rubber boots are very strongly recommended, also an anorak for windy days. Beachwear for the long sandy beaches and walking boots for cross-country hill-walking in the many mountains are suggested for those interested in passive or active holiday experiences.
We have an unsecured room to store luggage of low value and an area beside our private house to park cars but only on the strict understanding that luggage and cars are left here at the visitors' risk.
Our base at Cronybyrne is in the middle of the Wicklow countryside. There is no food available in our vicinity so it is necessary to bring sufficient to last for two days. Those using the transfer arrangement will have an opportunity to shop for food, etc. in that the driver will stop at a suitable supermarket to facilitate shopping. Once you are on the road with your caravan, you will have many opportunities to shop. There are some areas towards the mountains that don't have shops - this will be covered in the briefing you get on choosing a route. Good, clean and fresh water is available everywhere for free.
We bring you to your caravan, show you how it works and provide you with bedclothes. Depending on your arrival time and other factors, we brief you on the attractions and features of this area and facilitate you in choosing you own route, giving you a marked map and written details of the locations you intend to visit with your horse and caravan. We also complete all outstanding paperwork. You spend this first night of your holiday with us in your caravan, parked in our field.
On the morning after your arrival, we do the 'horse instruction'. This consists of your learning and practicing how to catch, look after, harness, yoke and drive a horse. Using plenty of time, you will get to know and work with the horse allocated to you. Eventually you will be ready to go on the road; perhaps after midday and in plenty of time to get to you first overnight stop. Please note that you must have the caravan off the road and the horse watered and grazing a half an hour before twilight. How you allocate your time and arrange your days is entirely up to you. The overnight stop people have no restrictions on when you arrive or go or on how long you may be away from your caravan.
We ask you to be back at our base at Cronybyrne on the evening before your departure as we expect you to tell us how your holiday went and to vacate your caravan on the following morning by 10:00. Again we are flexible in this timing - but let us know beforehand about any variation.
Designated farmers, guest-houses, pubs and hotels make overnight facilities available to horse- drawn caravan visitors for a fee. We have a selection of locations in our area where the farmer, the bed-and-breakfast proprietor, the pub, the guest-house owner and others welcome our caravans to park and graze the horses at night. These are the 'overnight stops'. At a minimum, they provide parking for the caravan, grass for the horse, rubbish disposal and sanitary facilities. However they often provide much more, including packed-lunches, cooked meals, farm produce, child-minding services, hot showers, and sometimes transport to local visitor attractions. Some places also offer to serve breakfast and some have country produce for sale. They generally charge between 20 to 25 for these facilities - you can get an estimate of this charge from our price lists on this page. We have printed information material on all of these overnight stops and on the area nearby which we offer to our visitors.
The distance one can expect an average horse to travel pulling a three-quarter tonne weight of caravan averages daily at about 12 miles or 20 Km. A typical travelling time for this distance is about four hours, taking into account rest-stops and harness checks. We find that our visitors actually average some 8 miles (12 Km) daily but then they sometimes spend two days at some favourite location.
Most visitors come to us via Travel Agents and Tour Organisers. These companies feature us in their brochures and invite the public to book a holiday with us through them. Because they 'package' the holiday with local, access and foreign transport, with transfers and accommodation combined with an expertise in their trade, they are an excellent choice when intending to book a holiday. We will soon have a list of such Tour Organisers with links on this site. If, however, you prefer to book directly with us then read on.
Once you know the date for which you want to book, e-mail, phone or write to us and we will hold a caravan booking provisionally for ten days in your name. We can fully confirm your booking on receipt of a 50% payment which can be made through PayPal on our Prices Page or via Bank Transfer ( please email for bank details). We expect you to pay the remaining 50% either 2 weeks before you travel or on your arrival in Euro cash. We do not as yet have a facility to accept credit or charge cards on the farm.
We appreciate that many visitors wish to get a taste of the horse caravan experience, often as part of a longer holiday spent discovering Ireland. On this basis we have introduced a short break option in our low season based on a 4 day minimum stay with the option of additional days. The shorter stay will limit some of the routes available and it is important to note that our visitors spend nearly a day being briefed on their route, on learning and practicing how to work with the horse and in gaining driving experience.
About 80% of our visitors have never handled a horse before coming to us. Our 'horse instruction' is obviously designed to handle this situation and since we have been doing this successfully since 1969, it works! Our horse caravan holiday has two main features - 1. Building a good working relationship with a horse and 2. Exploring and enjoying the Wicklow countryside in carefree and non-hectic fashion. Anyone wishing to combine these two features is a prime candidate for our type of holiday. We offer a full service in French and German as well as in English on our base and on the telephone.
We find that our visitors consist of an unusually broad cross-section of people. We have visitors with and without children, visitors from all continents, visitors of all ages - in this context, please note that there must be at least one person aged 17 or over in charge of the pulling horse with each caravan. We get single families, groups of 3 or 4 families, school classes with their teachers, trades unions with their juvenile 'outreach' groups and their group leaders. It is very hard to categorise our visitors except to say that we get many more during the school holidays than at other times. We find that older children often involve themselves more intensely with the horses and acquire a higher level of skill than do some of the adults. This might explain the recent increase in bookings from 'separated' fathers accompanying their children on holiday. Maybe here the children made the choice of holiday?
Our prices vary between high season and low season and on whether you book for one week only or for longer, wishing to extend to extra weeks. For price details in Euros, click here.
Ireland has adopted the standard GSM cellular mobile phone system and good coverage is given with the exception of some narrow valleys in the more mountainous parts of County Wicklow. Public telephones are to found in nearly all villages, guest houses, hotels and pubs. The standard for electricity supply in Ireland is 230 Volt 50 Hz. AC as it is elsewhere in Europe - but not on the caravans; they only have butane gas. The Euro () is legal tender here; 1 = 100 Cent. Banks are located in Wicklow, Arklow and Rathdrum and are open Monday to Friday for slightly shorter hours than other businesses. Pharmacies are also located in these towns as well as in Ashford.
The caravans and horses are insured against damage to them but only starting from a specific amount, the 'excess'. As a consequence we will require a deposit as a surety for each caravan taken out. This deposit may be forfeit for damage to our property, for damage to other persons' property, for the caravan not being returned to base at the agreed time or for leaving the caravan in a disorderly or dirty state where extraordinary work is needed to clean it up. We may offer you an alternative: You make us a non-refundable weekly waiver payment, you leave no deposit and we accept the risk of damage to the caravan.
Please refer to our price lists for the amount of the deposit and for the amount of the non-refundable weekly waiver payment.
Please take out a third party holiday insurance and an accident insurance before you leave your own country as we cannot arrange this here. Sometimes our visitors' own household insurance cover can be extended by them to cover their holiday risks - visitors must check this themselves as they are responsible for ensuring that they are properly covered. Our insurance does not cover our visitors against claims against them for any damage they may cause to other persons or their property.
Donkey Walking FAQ
Donkey Walking Holiday in the Wicklow Mountains
Please inform us about your arrival times so that we can make arrangements to pick you up either from the airport or organise a taxi from local bus stop. (If you are arriving late we will bring you directly to your Guesthouse in Rathdrum and see you the following morning.)
After a cup of tea and homemade "brack" we will introduce you to your donkey companion. Then your new donkey friend will bring you on a walk around our farm.
This will be followed by a detailed discussion of your trip and we will supply you with maps and brochures, etc. Your first overnight will be in the village of Rathdrum and we will bring you there at approx. 17.30
Rathdrum is situated high on the western side of the Avonmore Valley. The town has been the location of many films and is the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell, one of the greatest political leaders of modern Irish history. 7 local pubs make the temptation for an after dinner pub crawl irresistible! Dinner: Jacob's Well, Rathdrum
Overnight: Jacob's Well B/B - your hosts: Helen and Noel Jacob Tel. 0404.46620
After a full Irish breakfast in Jacob's Well it's back to Clissmann's Farm at Cronybyrne to meet your donkey again. We will give you more instructions on how to check your donkey's well-being and look after him on the road. You will then give him a thorough brushing, pack your saddle bags and settle them comfortably on the donkey rug and off you head .
Please do not forget to bring your brush with you as you need to brush your donkey every day before departure.
If you have any problems with your donkey you must ring us immediately please do not wait to tell us at the end of your trip its too late then. Your donkey is depending on you to mind him/her properly.
Oats will be available at all the B/B's so your donkey does not have to carry them. Please ensure that the panniers have been evenly packed and if they slip please contact us.
We will provide you with lunch today.
Cronybyrne to "The Meetings"
Heading along the "stretch" to the wild life sanctuary you enter the forest at our gateway. Keeping left you follow the forest path towards Rathdrum.
Reaching Rathdrum you head slightly north to Glasnarget Bridge which crosses the railway line. Go R at the end of the bridge, continue uphill and take the next R to Mountlusk and Tilmullen. Past Tilmullen after a sharp corner you will come to a T-junction. Turn R and the road will eventually wind steeply down past the entrance to Castle Howard. Continue across the King's bridge over the Avonmore River and just before the main road is the entrance to Ashton House where Catriona will be waiting for you.
We will meet up with you approx. 2 hours after you leave us, check that you and your donkey are happy and bring a complimentary lunch with tea and/or coffee.
"The Meetings" and The Vale of Avoca rich in history and heritage is a very unique area. Peace and tranquillity permeate its deep river valleys and densely wooded hills. The poet Thomas Moore (1779-1851) immortalised the valley in his poem "Sweet Vale of Avoca".
You will reach Avoca at approx. 16.00, just in time to settle in to your B/B, care for your donkey and hop over the fence to The Meetings pub and join the outdoor ceili that takes place every Sunday. A ceili is an Irish dancing session the origins of Riverdance.
Catriona and Shaun, your hosts are full of information about their home area and are always happy to give you lots of advice.
Dinner: The Meetings Pub, Restaurant and craft shop has the advantage of being just next door.
Overnight: Ashton Lodge,The Meetings, - Catriona Morgan and Shaun Tel. 086.3760783
The Meetings of the Waters
Where the Avonmore and Avonbeg meet amidst glittering waters and quiet woodlands, an area made famous worldwide by Thomas Moore's melody "Sweet Vale of Avoca"
The house, in private ownership, is a curious mixture of castellation and Gothic. It was designed by Richard Morrison, a pupil of James Gandon. James Gandon designed some of the most stunning Georgian buildings in Dublin, including the Four Courts and the Custom House on the river Liffey.
The Mottee Stone
A legacy of the ice age, this huge granite rock offers the most amazing views of the county. Iron rungs make it possible to climb to the top of the stone and on a clear day it's sometimes possible to see the distant outline of Wales.
The village of Avoca is known worldwide, between the mines, the writings of Thomas Moore, Avoca Handweavers and most recently the BBC film "Ballykissangel". Avoca Handweavers built around 1723 is one of the oldest hand weaving mills in the country.
The Copper Mines
Bell Rock marks the entrance to the mines
Copper and sulphur have been mined in Avoca since the Bronze Age. However, the main commercial activities began over 250 year ago, but the 1840's were the boom years with over 1000 men employed in the industry. The chimney stacks of the great
Pumping stations can still be seen scattered throughout the valley. Gold was discovered in 1796... now there's a great conversation to follow up in the pub.
There are several different trips that you can do starting out from Catriona's house and she will be happy to give you advice about them.
Avoca Country Pub Crawl
If you feel like doing something completely different on your second evening at Ashton Lodge you might like to join the pub crawl. A unique experience even in Ireland! Please read enclosed brochure. The tour includes a trip to at least 4 different pubs in the area followed by dinner of traditional Irish stew and homemade apple tart and cream and lots of traditional music and all for EUR 49 per person. Tel. Paula or Toni at 0402.35093 or 088.0258484.
Or Moores Pub on the Avoca Road or
Back to "The Meetings Pub"
Overnight: Ashton Lodge, The Meetings, Catriona Morgan and Shaun Tel. 086.3760783
This is one of the longest days so it's advisable to head off reasonable early in the morning so that you and your donkey friend can have a good long break at lunchtime, or even before. Leaving Ashton House carefully cross the road, walk a little in the direction of Rathdrum and then take the first turn left to Ballinaclash. A cooling drink at Phelan's in Ballinaclash is recommended. Your donkey can be left in the field opposite the pub. Just past the pub follow the signposts to the valley of Glenmalure. When you reach the bridge at Greenane, you can take a detour to visit the Farm Museum and Maze if you have lots of energy. This means following the signpost L up the hill before the bridge. There is a coffee shop here so you could have a nice lunch and there is also grazing for your donkey. (only open at weekends in May)
After your visit to the Maze come back down to Greenane Bridge, cross the bridge and head along the valley towards Glenmalure .
The Glenmalure Lodge Hotel is situated in the longest glacial valley in the British Isles. It is a favourite haunt for hill walkers and mountain climbers. Surrounded by majestic hills it nestles cosily half-way down the valley.
Dinner: Glenmalure Lodge Hotel. Home-cooking is a speciality and highly recommended and the food portions are enormous. Most of the meat and vegetables are locally sourced. Traditional music most nights.
Overnight: Glenmalure Lodge Hotel, Ann and Pat Dowling
A spectacular walk along the Military Road across the mountain will bring you from one valley to another. Take a light lunch from the hotel and something to drink as there are no pubs or shops along the way. The scenery is breathtaking. Coming out of the hotel you turn R, at the crossroads you turn R. There's quite a steep climb but it's really worthwhile. Views and vistas across the Wicklow Mountains are a sheer delight. The road eventually winds its way gently down into Laragh. At the junction at the end of the road you turn L into Laragh. Lynam's Hotel is on your right in the centre of the village. Go into the hotel reception for directions to the location of the field for your donkey. At this stage you can also leave the panniers in the hotel. It's approx. ½ an hour walk to the donkey field. You can make arrangements for someone from the hotel to pick you up by car from the field and bring you back to the hotel.
Dinner: Complimentary 3 course dinner at Lynam's Restaurant in the hotel. (drinks to be paid separately )
Overnight: Lynam's Hotel, Laragh, Tel. 0404.45345
As you are spending a second night in Laragh there there are various wonderful trips you can do today.
While your hard working donkey has a day off you can visit the Monastic city of Glendalough by horse and carriage. (Please make sure to give him your voucher)
Heading towards Glendalough, a few minutes from the hotel is "The Arches" B/B.
Mr. Jimmy Cullen, owner of the horse and carriage will be waiting for you here at approx. 11.00 o'clock. He will drive you down to the lakes and regale you with the history and legends of the area. He will then drive back you back to the Visitor Centre (again please make sure to hand in your voucher). At the Visitor Centre there is an excellent Exhibition on the Monastic City. Please ask for the German translation if you need one. Then you can view a very interesting Film on Early Christian Ireland, it's monasteries, it's gold and silver chalices and it's famous books The Book of Kells, Armagh and Drimna and of course the story of St. Kevin who founded Glendalough. Then you can go and explore the Monastic City itself the beautifully preserves Round Tower, the Cathedral, St. Kevin's Kitchen.These buildings are mainly 9th and 10th Centure. There is a path The Green Road to the Poulanass waterfall, the Spink and the lakes so much to see and enjoy.
You can chat to Aoife or Barbara at Lynam's Hotel about further information on walks in the area. Your donkey would be happy if you checked him during the day so that he does not get too lonely without you!
Lynam's pub in Laragh is one of the counties most famous landmarks. Visited by artists, poets, locals, politicians, and real Irish characters you will always find someone interesting to talk to and you will be well fed.
Dinner: Lynams, The Wicklow Heather, Glendalough Hotel
Overnight: Lynam's Hotel, Laragh, Tel.
There is a lovely trip via Laragh to Cronybyrne.
There are no shops or pubs along the first part of this route, so it important to bring nibbles and water with you. There are 2 shops in Laragh both close to the hotel.
Leaving Laragh you take the Rathdrum road, just outside the village, and just before a little bridge there is a L turn leading up towards Garryduff Crossroads and Cronybyrne. There's quite a climb at the beginning, but the road levels out as you walk along the Vale of Clara with the river down to your right.
You can continue your journey along the roadway back to Cronybyrne or there is a detour through the wild life sanctuary along the river. We will mark both on the map for you.
We'll be waiting for you to share your experiences over freshly brewed coffee or tea before bringing you back to "Jabobs Well in Rathdrum.
Overnight: "Jacobs Well", Rathdrum
Dinner: Jacob's Well
Depending on your flight times, you can come back to Cronybyrne before your departure for the Airport and bid farewell to you donkey companion, perhaps giving him a carrot or two and a few apples for escorting you through the Wicklow Mountains.
Your booked holiday will include the following:
7 Overnights and breakfast and one dinner voucher per person for Lynam's hotel .
(Our experience is that people prefer to make their own dinner arrangements as there is such a variety en route on offer.)
Packed lunch on your first day.
Complimentary transfers to and from our farm to your B/B in Rathdrum.
A well trained donkey as your walking companion and detailed instruction on how to look her/him, how to brush her/him properly and check her/his feet.
Your donkey companion will have panniers to take approx. 15 kilos. She/he will have a blanket or rug under the panniers and a weatherproof cover to keep you luggage dry. We will supply you with a halter and brush. It is very advisable to bring gloves (leather with aeration if possible) as you will be holding the halter all day. Sometimes the donkey might want to go in a different direction so you need to be able to grip the halter properly. We leave a bucket and oats at all the overnight stops so that you do not need to carry them en route.
Secured fields, grazing and water and fodder for your donkey every day.
Detailed instruction on the route you will be taking and detailed maps and information on the areas you will be visiting.
A water container and plastic container for lunches, and a flask if you wish.
A horse and carriage trip to the lakes in Glendalough.
A rescue team on call if you should need help or if you should need anything from your luggage.
If you choose to visit Dublin city we will also supply a city map and information on what to do and see in Dublin city.
Airport transfers cost EUR 95 per person return.
It is also possible to take the public bus directly from the Airport to the village of Ashford.
Bus Eireann Nr. 133. Tickets can be booked on line and cost EUR 25 per person return. A taxi from Ashford to Cronybyrne costs EUR 20 each way.
What you need to bring with you
Comfortable clothing, waterproof gear and good walking boots or shoes are essential. By waterproof gear we mean a jacket and trousers the complete set.
A hat or cap and warm socks
A good sun cream
A good waterproof rucksack
A torch if you want to check your donkey during the night