Rotten Row in London
's Hyde Park in Central London has been the most famous equestrian venue in England for more than 300 years. Hyde Park Stables offers horseriding along with lessons if needed for adults and children year-round.
Horses and ponies are chosen for their temperaments and to provide mounts for riders of all abilities. Catriona Rowntree welcomed the chance to join one of the rides which cover more than 8km of bridleways.
It really is the most glorious way to see the historic park which was opened to the public by King Charles I in 1637. King Henry VIII had seized the manor from monks in 1536, sold some of the land and turned the rest into a vast deer-hunting park which stretched from Kensington to Westminster, purely for the use of the royals.
The green space covers 142 hectares, has more than 4000 trees and is divided by the Serpentine, a large artificial lake. Locals take full advantage of Hyde Park and on sunny days you'll see them boating, swimming, cycling, sunbaking and horseriding. Two outdoor arenas are used for formal riding lessons and dressage and year-round you can join in or just watch.
Rotten Row was originally the Royal Road and, when King William III moved his court from St James Palace to Kensington Palace in 1690, it became the city's first lamp-lit road.
In the 18th century, Rotten Row was a popular meeting place for upper-class Londoners. On weekends, they would dress in their finest clothes to ride along the Row to be seen. The adjacent South Carriage Drive was used by society people in carriages for the same purpose.
Rotten Row is used by the Household Cavalry to exercise their horses which are stabled in Knightsbridge. You can see them at 10.30am. Queen Elizabeth is driven through the park quite often. If horses are crossing, her driver always stops to give them right of way.
Even if you've no intention of riding a horse through Hyde Park, it is an extremely interesting part of London.
Speakers' Corner allows anyone to speak about anything at all, provided police consider what they say is lawful and not profane. Nearby is the former site of the Tyburn gallows and Rotten Row is the northern boundary of the site of the Crystal Palace. South of the Serpentine is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, an oval stone ring fountain.
Marble Arch on the park's north-east corner was built in 1827, as a gateway to Buckingham Palace. Based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome, it was moved to its present location in 1851.
Wellington Arch is at the south-east corner of the park, connecting it with Green Park. It was built in 1826. A statue of the Duke of Wellington was added in 1846. The Quadriga of War was placed atop the statue in 1912.
Apsley House was the Duke of Wellington's home and, for more than 200 years, the mansion has been known as "Number One London". Inside, you will see many aspects of the duke's life and his outstanding art collection, much of which came into his possession after the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. An enormous nude statue of Napoleon dominates the stairwell.
The Achilles statue was created from guns used in the Peninsular War in 1822. Another nude statue, it has a cloak draped over Achilles' arm, armour and a short sword. And due to outrage and protest, a fig leaf was strategically placed.
The park's most recent addition is the Queen Elizabeth gate, built to commemorate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the late Queen Mother.
Hyde Park is open from 5am until midnight every day and is the venue for protests, concerts and national celebrations and of course horseriding.
The centre of London, England, United Kingdom.
Hyde Park Stables group lessons cost around $119. Private lessons cost about $128 for adults. The cost includes horse, hat, boots and escort/instructor. They operate year-round between 7.15am and 4.30pm on weekdays and 9am and 4pm on weekends.
Emirates has flights to London. For the most up-to-date fares, call the airline on 1300 303 777 or log on to www.emirates.com/getaway.
Prices correct at September 10, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
Hyde Park Stables
63 Bathurst Mews
London W2 2SB
Ph: +44 20 7723 2813
Fax: +44 20 7823 4512
Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than two months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.
Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.
Time: The UK is on Greenwich Mean Time between October and March. Between March and October it is on British Summer Time.
Currency: The British pound sterling.
International dialling code: +44.