Where can you go wild pony spotting in the UK?

11 June 2024

The United Kingdom, a region encompassing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is widely recognized for its verdant hills, ancient forests, and rich biodiversity. Undeniably, the country's natural wildlife is one of its most significant assets, including the much-adored wild ponies, which have roamed the British Isles for centuries. These enchanting creatures are a delightful sight in the UK's national parks and moors. This article provides an informative guide on where you can spot them in their natural habitats.

Dartmoor National Park

Haytor, Dartmoor National Park, is arguably one of the best places to spot wild ponies in the UK. Dartmoor, a vast moorland in the county of Devon, England, harbours a significant population of Dartmoor ponies, which are recognised for their endurance and hardiness.

These ponies are distinguishable by their small size, robust build, broad nose, and large eyes. They typically display a range of colours, with the most common being bay and grey. Dartmoor ponies are famous for their gentle temperament and intelligence, making them loved by both locals and tourists.

In Dartmoor, you'll find these creatures grazing and frolicking in open moorland, and you can also occasionally spot them in the park's copious woodland areas. The best time to catch a glimpse is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the ponies are most active.

The Shetland Isles

The Shetland Isles, located off the north-east coast of Scotland, are home to the well-known Shetland ponies. These ponies are known for their small stature, usually measuring under 42 inches. Despite their size, Shetland ponies are incredibly strong, often used in the past for transportation and farming duties.

These ponies are usually found in the moorlands and hills of the Shetland Isles, where they roam freely. They have a thick double coat that is particularly visible during the winter months, which helps them withstand the harsh Shetland climate. Their colours can vary widely, encompassing black, grey, chestnut, bay and palomino.

The best time to visit the Shetland Isles for pony spotting is during the summer months, when the weather is more temperate, and the daylight hours are longer.

Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park, situated in the South West of England, is another excellent location for spotting wild ponies. The Exmoor pony is an ancient breed, believed to have lived on the moor for thousands of years.

Known for their mealy muzzle and expressive eyes, these ponies are hardy and versatile, capable of enduring the park's harsh weather conditions. They are usually seen in their favourite habitats: moorlands, woodlands, and coastal grasslands.

The village of Exford is a great starting point for an Exmoor pony spotting adventure. Here, you can walk along the river Exe, where the ponies often come to drink. The best time to see Exmoor ponies is during their foaling season, from April to August.

New Forest National Park

Another haven for wild ponies in the UK is the New Forest National Park, located in southern England. Here, you can find the New Forest ponies, one of the recognized breeds of the British Isles. These ponies have freely inhabited the park's woodlands and heathlands for centuries.

The park is located near the village of Beaulieu, providing an ideal base for your pony spotting journey. Morning and early evening are the best times to see these ponies as they come out to graze in the open fields.

New Forest ponies come in different colours, including bay, chestnut, black, and grey. They are renowned for their friendly nature, although visitors are always reminded to keep a respectful distance.

The Hills and Moors of Wales

The Welsh mountain ponies, one of the oldest and most endearing breeds in the UK, roam the hills and moors of Wales. These ponies are small, hardy, and known for their excellent temperament. They come in various colours, including black, grey, chestnut, and bay.

Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales are excellent places to spot Welsh ponies. The ponies can often be seen grazing on the open moorland, especially during the warmer months.

Whether you are an animal lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply an adventurer, spotting wild ponies in the UK can be a truly rewarding and unforgettable experience. Remember to respect these creatures and their habitats, and you'll surely enjoy your pony spotting adventures in the UK.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Brecon Beacons National Park, a mountainous area located in South Wales, is another fantastic location to spot wild ponies. This area is home to Welsh Mountain ponies, a breed known for their strength, endurance, and friendliness.

These ponies are small but sturdy, making them perfect for the hilly and rocky terrain of the national park. They come in a variety of colours, including bay, black, grey, and chestnut.

In Brecon Beacons National Park, you'll often find these ponies grazing on the wide-open hills and moors. The best time to spot them is during the warmer months when they are most active. It's also during this time that you might be lucky enough to see foals, as the breeding season runs from April to June.

The town of Brecon is a great starting point for your pony spotting journey. From here, you can venture into the park's expansive moorlands, the preferred habitat of the Welsh Mountain ponies. However, remember to respect these free-roaming creatures and maintain a safe distance when observing them.

The Curragh of Kildare

The Curragh of Kildare, located in Ireland, is an open plain of almost 5000 acres, famous for its horse breeding and racing. This area is home to the Irish Connemara pony, a hardy, versatile breed that is native to Ireland.

The Connemara pony is renowned for its athleticism, good nature, and distinctive grey colour, although other colours like bay, black, and chestnut are also common. These ponies are well adapted to the harsh weather conditions of the Irish plains, and they can be spotted all year round.

The best time for pony spotting in the Curragh of Kildare is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. During these times, the ponies are usually out grazing, making them easier to observe.


The UK is undeniably a paradise for wild pony spotting, with various locations from national parks to open moorlands hosting numerous native pony breeds. Each location offers a unique encounter with these enchanting creatures, be it the Dartmoor ponies in Dartmoor National Park, the Shetland ponies on the Shetland Isles, the Exmoor ponies in Exmoor National Park, the New Forest ponies in the New Forest, the Welsh ponies in the hills and moors of Wales, or the Connemara ponies in the Curragh of Kildare.

Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast, a budding photographer, or just someone looking for a unique adventure, pony spotting in the UK is a rewarding and awe-inspiring experience. Remember, these are wild animals, and while they might seem friendly, it's crucial to respect their space and observe them from a distance. So why not grab your camera and embark on a wild pony spotting adventure? You're sure to come back with unforgettable memories and stunning photos.

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