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A taste of the Wild West in Dorset: a glorious location, luxurious glamping accommodation and some of the best horse-riding in the country.

Loose Reins

Ridgeway Farm Lanchards Lane Shillingstone Dorset DT11 0TF 01258 863 533

We say

The brainchild of local farmers and passionate equestrians Marc and Michelle Gibbs, Loose Reins is a glamping destination with a difference: not only do they offer accommodation in the form of luxurious cedar-clad cabins and canvas lodges, in a beautiful scenic location, but they will also take you out to discover the countryside beyond on horseback – and offer lessons to beginners and those hoping to brush up their skills. We reckon that's a winning formula, though the hand-crafted pioneer lodges and ranch cabins make for a luxurious and unique place to stay whether you're a riding enthusiast or not. 

Tucked away in a natural combe below the Wessex Ridgeway, they have three cabins and three lodges, all of which look out over Blackmore Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, towards the ancient forts of Hambledon and Hod Hills. Each of the lodges has a generous amount of space to itself and can sleep up to 6 people in comfort (the cabins sleep 4), with just the right balance between high comfort and proper glamping – with decent furniture (Hypnos mattresses, luxury linen and even a four-poster bed in the lodges!), proper plumbing and electricity, fully-equipped kitchens with a gas oven, real loos and hot showers with plenty of towels, but they also have wood-burners and outdoor fire bowls, and overall there's a prevailing sense of discovery and closeness to nature that can only come with staying in a cabin or a canvas lodge. There's also an on-site shop selling essentials, fresh, milk, eggs, local sausages and bacon, even home-cooked ready meals for the evening and marshmallows for campfire-toasting. Plus they take dogs, and supply beds, bowls, towels and treats for good measure.

As for the riding, it would be silly not to give it a go, but there's no pressure at all to do so. Michelle and Marc also know all the best places to ride hereabouts, and they specialize in Western Riding, with Western-style tack and American-trained horses. They'll school you in the essentials before taking you out and will tailor each chosen trail to your requirements; they also go out in a maximum group of four so the experience is always very intimate and special. If you're more into the idea of a walking or cycling holiday, the site is within easy reach of some of the best walks, cycle paths and bridleways in the Southwest: there's nearby Blandford Forest and the Wessex Ridgeway, and the North Dorset Trail Way passes right through the village; and the Loose Reins folk will always provide a picnic to take with you.

Failing that, you could just hang out on your front porch and watch the buzzards circling; and come the evening, grab a beer and light the fire and do a spot of stargazing: it's a beautiful spot, and you may find it suits you just fine to stay put here for a few days.

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Sleeps

Three pioneer cabins – Trappers, Gold Panners and Ranchers – each sleeping up to 4 people; plus three canvas lodges – Foresters, Hazel Meade and West Coombe – each sleeping up to 6 people. 

How much?

Cabins cost from £745 a week in low season to £1,065 a week in peak season; lodges £995–£1,145. There is also stabling for you to bring your own horse, but costs for this vary throughout the year.

Looking for...

  • Activities
  • Countryside
  • Eco-friendly
  • Getting Away from it All
  • Lodges & Cabins
  • Sensational Views
  • Something Different

Getting There

Following the A357 to Shillingstone, take the first right after the Old Ox pub into Gunn Lane; from the south, enter the 30mph speed zone and take the 3rd on the left. Continue on Gunn Lane past Everetts Lane on your right and Wessex Avenue on your left and take the next right turn into Brodham Way. Continue for about half a mile, and at the T-junction turn left into Lanchards Lane. Loose Reins is right at the end of a no-through-road on Lanchards Lane, so keep on going to the very end. On arrival, take the left-hand gate into the yard and park on the concrete apron by the little shepherd's hut. Follow the signs to the reception where we will give you your keys and show you to your accommodation. No cars are allowed near the cabins and lodges but there's a guest car park a couple of minutes' walk away on clean gravel tracks and each cabin or lodge has its own handy trolley. 

When?

Cabins are available all year, lodges only from March to October.

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