Are We There Yet?


I was researching how long it would take for a horse to get from Wick, Scotland, to Inverness, Scotland, and thought I might as well blog about it so when I forget in six months, maybe this will pop up in my search and I’ll save myself some time.

So…it’s about 103 miles from Wick to Inverness (never mind the fact that Loch Dornoch is in the way) and a horse can travel anywhere from 10 to 40 miles a day.  Here’s the breakdown, courtesy of Cartographer’s Guild:

Roads/trails: 20-40 mpd

Off road: 15-30 mpd

Mountainous terrain: 10 mpd

Horses are capable of more than 30 miles per day, one can be ridden at a gallop for more than an hour at a time, however, this depends on the build and breed of the horse.  The 2012 President’s Cup race was won in just 6 hours 21 minutes and is 100 miles long.  You have to factor in the condition of the horse, the load carried, and any stops to be made.

Cut these distances in half if pulling a cart, and horses cannot be pushed hard for more than 2 days at a time.  Also take into account the weather, and conditions arising because of rain, flooding, snow, etc.

Take into account as well, if you are expecting your character to fight, or the horse to carry him/her into battle, fighting after a 3 day ride is not going to realistically work.   From my research, it appears a 20 mile ride is the maximum you can expect from your horse, and still expect him to carry you into battle.

For the sake of argument, my horse is a heavy built, gypsy vanner, being ridden bareback over rough, rocky terrain, and on roads only occasionally, with one rider and no pack, so I estimated 5 days to Inverness from Wick.  Give or take the weather I decide to write into the story, and any other little problems that may or may not come up.

Still trying to figure out how to get them across that damn loch.


About the author: L. A. McGinnis

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