This was a trail ride – but ‘trail’ does not describe its exhilarating pace (although speed is always dictated by the weakest rider in the group). The riding in Romania is sensational, with uninterrupted miles of pasture and woodland. No gates, no fences.
On the first day, we headed north up to a ridge with views across the high Carpathian range. The countryside has a landscaped look, as if a Romanian Capability Brown had been at work: meadows with free-standing oaks, beeches and hornbeams and, occasionally, a tree clotted with mistletoe. Spring had not yet arrived – the beech woods were bare. But even this weirdly indeterminate season was beautiful, with its silver birches and golden leaves. And when we dismounted for the simple daily picnic, we would come across wild flowers – wood anemones, hellebores, dog’s-tooth violets – making themselves visible with shy persistence.