Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2020

Mam Tor in the Peak DistrictDaniel_Kay/Shutterstock

As a difficult year draws to a close, we reflect on the top 10 posts that our readers most enjoyed

Well, what can we say about 2020 that hasn’t been said already? As a writer, I feel that I should be able to say something grand and stirring about the global pandemic, but to be honest, I can’t. I don’t know how to aptly describe the hopelessness and inertia that so many of us have experienced this year.

Hanging up my hat: why I’ve chosen to quit horse riding

After years of riding horses, Kia explains why she’s chosen to quit

My first impression of horse riding was how bloody slow it all was. When I first started to learn back in 2014, all we did for months was walk and trot. I thought I’d be well on my way to cantering by then. Instead, I was mired in the minutiae of technique. 

Horse riding in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Horse riding in Monteverde prompts Kia to rethink a few things at home in the UK

I was dubious about horse riding in Monteverde. I had been told that we wouldn’t be given helmets and that the local guides couldn’t speak English. The latter I could deal with, but the former was a problem.

I’ve caused myself a fair amount of damage by not wearing a helmet in the past. After falling off a horse in 2017, I promised myself to never ride without one. Still, I was keen to go riding in Costa Rica, so went to the stables to see for myself.

Back in the saddle: horse riding in Swakopmund, Namibia

After an injury in 2017, Kia decides that horse riding in Swakopmund is the perfect way to get back in the saddle

Swakopmund is a strange little city. Known as Namibia’s adventure capital, it has a fittingly dramatic setting. On one side, a particularly ferocious Atlantic Ocean thrashes onto shore; on the other, the vast, sparse Namib Desert stretches in deadly threat. In between these startling scenes lies the city itself.

8 things to do in the Reeks District, Ireland

We explore the best things to do in the Reeks District, Ireland’s brand new adventure playground

Set on Ireland’s west coast, the newly named Reeks District or ‘the beating heart of the Kingdom of Kerry’ is home to some of Ireland’s most magnificent scenery. With a wild blend of lofty peaks, untamed coastline and secluded moraine lakes, the Reeks District hosts an array of activities to keep outdoor enthusiasts entertained for days on end.

Saddle up: horse riding tips for your first tour

Essential horse riding tips for your first tour, gathered from a challenging week in the mountains of Montenegro

Some may say that I’m poorly qualified to write this piece. After all, in the few years since I first mounted a horse, I’ve been trodden on, kicked in the shin while riding, kicked in the back while not riding and, more recently, fallen off a horse and got pinned beneath it with my foot stuck in the stirrup.

Lone ranger: horse riding in Montenegro

Your fellow riders can offer a host of horse riding tipsAtlas & Boots

While Peter went climbing in Russia, I opted for something far more amenable: horse riding in Montenegro

I was alone in more ways than one. I was travelling without Peter for the first time this year; I was the only non-French speaker on our seven-night tour; I was the only vegetarian in the group; and I was the least experienced rider by far.

The countries we most want to see

Countries-we-most-want-to-see-featimg

Despite our best laid plans, we never made it to Africa last year. With renewed plans to visit the continent after our current trip through Sri Lanka and Burma, we found ourselves in an interesting discussion: if you could see only five countries before you die, which would they be?

This question posed a far trickier dilemma than the countries we least want to see. With so much on offer, we had to be ruthless in our choices.

We didn’t choose countries we have already visited, nor stateless territories (e.g. Antarctica). Two of our countries overlapped (Nepal and Canada) so we each chose one more to make a total of 10.

Stone rangers: horse riding in Cappadocia

In his 2009 memoir, journalist Sathnam Sanghera recalls a date with a Sikh girl who describes in detail the intricacies of the movie Police Academy.

Sathnam asks how she happens to remember so much about the film and she replies, “Asian girl. Didn’t get out much in the eighties.”

Horse riding in Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Horse riding in Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Our Ecuadorian guide smiles at the motley crew of would-be horse riders assembled in front of him. In Spanish, he asks if anyone has any experience. A few people shuffle their feet nervously. When no-one else speaks up, I put up my hand reluctantly.

“Yo tomó doce clases hace dos años,” I tell him in my faltering Spanish, explaining that I took 12 lessons two years ago.