Wolsey Lodges B&Bs for UK literary breaks
- Travel Guide
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Travelling with animals is often a challenge. Many Wolsey Lodges welcome dogs – as long as their owners are well-behaved – but travelling with horses is a rather bigger ask. There are several Wolsey Lodges with resident horses and plenty with enough land to make cross-country hacks a realistic option. Just a few can also provide stabling and facilities for visiting livestock. Here they explain how hospitality for horses actually works.
With an extensive estate on the shores of the Moray Firth, Blervie House is perfect for exploring on horseback: you can ride 30 miles without leaving the property or meeting a road. Better still, it has six stables that can be made available as well as three fields for grazing. But Blervie House’s owner Graham Thompson says the stables are not always needed. “When guests are going to bring horses we always talk to them in advance and work out what they need. Quite often they don’t need stables, just a field where their horses can graze. The last party we had turned up with 12 horses; they brought their own electric fencing, set it up, and let them sleep outside.” There are plenty of forest trails within the 1800 acre forest that adjoins the estate: there’s very little traffic there but there can be a lot of pheasant.
Riders in Scotland have far greater freedom to roam than riders in England enjoy, and more freedom, indeed, than prevails in most parts of the developed world. This is due to Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code. This unique legislation gives give people north of the border unequalled rights to roam, whether on foot, on bicyle or on horseback, across the hills and moors, forests and woods, beaches, rivers and lochs: all that is required is that you roam responsibly.
There are more ways to explore Scotland’s riding trails from Blervie with a number of independent operators. To explore the Drover’s Roads and Deer Trails that range over the Scottish hillsides Highland Ponies are ideal. Small and strong, these are easy to dismount and remount – which is just as well as you’ll often have to walk alongside your pony in steep or boggy sections. Wilder Ways in Campbeltown can help with trekking and riding tours. Beach rides on Roseisle Beach – with four miles of glorious sand is home to Equus Riding, while if you want to ride around Loch Ness then – as long as you know how to ride and weigh less than 92kg (and yes they have scales) – then Loch Ness Riding can help. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance of spotting Nessie while riding a horse.
Despite being a working farm, Brills Farm B&B is brilliantly organised for equestrian pursuits. There’s good hardcore parking for your horse box or trailer, space for HGVs and stabling available in one of their barns. There’s a choice of bedding – aubiose or straw – and grass turnout available. There’s even an indoor school that can be booked if required. Hacking is around the farm, along quiet country lanes and through the woodlands that border the farm.
Owner Sophie White says “We get lots of horses staying here, especially in Spring and Autumn. Often they find us when they google ‘B&B for horses’ and book the stabling first. When they realise we do B&B for people as well it is just a very welcome afterthought. They like that we can provide stabling as well as turnout.
“We get a lot of people eventing. Newark Showground is only 3 1/2 miles away. But we’re also pretty conveniently located for friends from Scotland and England meeting up: we’re easily reached from the A1, A46 and A17.”
Brills Farm itself is a Georgian property that dates back to 1720 and has recently been featured in ‘English Country Homes’ magazine. Although this part of Lincolnshire isn’t known for its hills, Brills Farm has commanding views of the county as well as extensive stretches of Nottinghamshire. The farm is a mile and a half outside the village of Norton Disney in a lovely stretch of countryside alive with birds, foxes, deer and hares. Horses are welcome, of course, but so are dogs: but on leads (there’s livestock all around) and not in the house: they can sleep in the car or there are two kennels with private runs; deluxe accommodation for the most pampered pooch.
At Manor House Farm there’s stabling and pasture for half a dozen horses. Owner Libby Ellis says “We have all the facilities, the experience, loads of paddocks and lots of quiet rides around the farm.
“There are very good events around here. There’s British Eventing at Houghton Hall, Burnham Market and the horse trials at Great Witchington: all these are within easy reach of Manor House Farm. There are lovely beach rides a 20-minute drive from here; guests especially love the ride on Holkham Beach.”
It’s just as well that Manor House Farm has sturdy fencing though. The gardens are internationally known – and open to the public a few times a year – and must represent a pretty tempting snack to any herbivore.
A ten minute drive from Burghley House, home to the famous annual horse trials, will reach Holywell House B&B in Rutland. It is therefore very convenient that Holywell is another lodge that can provide accommodation for horses, with a paddock, stabling and a menage, and countless bridleways from the door.
At The Chestnuts Country House B&B Kelly Robinson is a new addition to Wolsey Lodges – their guest accommodation is in a converted coach house which has only just been completed. She hasn’t yet had any guests asking about stabling. But she’s ready if they do. “I have my own horses living here, and although they tend to stay outside at this time of year I do have five stables, with shavings for bedding and local hay. Then I have 20 acres of grass paddock, all fenced, so there’s plenty of space for horses to roam, and plenty of hacks around the area.
“I’m not sure how many horses I should expect to want to stay. We’re ten minutes drive from Arena UK. This is a big championship showground for equestrian events, but contestants here tend to arrive in their own lorries which also have beds fitted: they usually camp in their vehicles. We’re also close to the Belvoir hunt, of course, as well as the Readyfield Bloodhounds who run scent trails and cross country events throughout the year. I think people travelling with their horses on holiday often head to the coast – it’s an opportunity to get in some beach rides – so I’m not sure how many would choose to come here. But if they do they – and their horses – would be welcome.”
Christine Hewitt went rather quiet when I asked about stabling at Burnhopeside Hall, her magnificent estate just outside Durham. “Do you know, since I started doing B&B in 2015 I don’t think I’ve had anyone ask to use the stables. I do have stables but over the years they’ve rather filled up with … stuff. Horses are welcome to stay if they sleep outside – I’ve still got plenty of fields and water troughs – so they’d be fine through the summer months. If I had horses wanting to visit in winter I suppose I could clear out a stable if I needed to but I’d probably recommend one of two excellent commercial stables within three miles of here: both are excellent and run by lovely people, so either would probably be more convenient to sleep under cover. There’s certainly plenty of riding here though; I have 500 acres including a good stretch of land that used to be a railway line.” Somewhat nervously I asked if she still welcomed dogs but the answer to that was reassuringly enthusiastic. “Oh gosh yes!”
Travelling with horses might be a challenge. But with Wolsey Lodges it can be done. So saddle up your horsebox and start making plans: exploring by horseback is uniquely rewarding.