On your doorstep

Sur­rey is full of se­cret hide­aways and hid­den gems. Slades Farm on the Win­ter­shall Es­tate is def­i­nitely one of them, says Need to know Slades Farm, Thorn­combe Street, Bram­ley, GU5 0LT. Tel: 01483 208693 Web: slades­farm. co.uk

Surrey Life - - Inside - Re­becca Younger

Horse trekking on the Win­ter­shall Es­tate

Ihave found there are two sorts of peo­ple in life. There are horsy peo­ple and there are non-horsy peo­ple. I would very firmly put my­self in the lat­ter cat­e­gory, while my other half, who used to ride horses as a child, edges into the for­mer. If you’re a horsy per­son then you will fall in love with Slades Farm and if you’re not a horsy per­son, well you will prob­a­bly also fall in love with it.

Sit­u­ated on the Win­ter­shall Es­tate, near Bram­ley, Slades Farm is one of those com­pletely out of the way places that you’d have no rea­son to visit un­less you knew it was there. Home to Ed­ward and Lulu Hut­ley and their fam­ily for the past 25 years, the farm re­cently de­cided to open its doors as a an eques­trian cen­tre and event venue of­fer­ing a cross-coun­try rid­ing school, horse trekking in the Sur­rey Hills and lux­ury guest ac­com­mo­da­tion.

We ar­rived on a warm Septem­ber af­ter­noon. After al­most miss­ing the en­trance down Thorn­combe Street, we re­ceived a very in­for­mal but nonethe­less friendly wel­come. You won’t find a concierge desk to check you in here, just an open door to the main house, where you’ll find Lulu, Ed­ward or an­other of the team await­ing your ar­rival.

We were booked onto one of their two-hour treks, which are run daily morn­ing and af­ter­noon and take in some of the most stun­ning views of the es­tate – which sits slap bang in the mid­dle of the Sur­rey Hills Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty (AONB).

Ed­ward and Lulu were in­spired to start of­fer­ing the treks by their friend Tris­tan Voor­spuy, who was born and raised in neigh­bour­ing Sus­sex and went on to found Off­beat Sa­faris in Africa be­fore his un­timely death just last year. “He was a real in­spi­ra­tion,” says Ed­ward, the son of Peter and Ann Hut­ley, who are fa­mous for their an­nual open-air per­for­mances about the life of Je­sus, also held on the es­tate. “As a fam­ily we have en­joyed a life­time of rid­ing ponies and horses. The horses have kept the fam­ily grounded and given us many hours to­gether in the out­doors. Car­ing for the horses, the land and the wildlife has taught us to be mind­ful and ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing that we have here at Slades Farm and we want to share it.”

Now re­tired, the ex-polo horses played very suc­cess­fully at Cow­dray Park for many years and, thank­fully for be­gin­ners like me, are in­cred­i­bly dis­ci­plined. How­ever, the farm does gen­er­ally ask that trekkers have had at least some ex­pe­ri­ence.

Our trek took us beyond the main house and grounds, which com­prises lakes and park­land, into ma­ture wood­land and across acres of farm­land with ex­pan­sive views of the AONB. We passed the home where Ed­ward was born, and even spot­ted a Prices for a twohour trek start from £75. Overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion is priced from £180 per night for two peo­ple stay­ing in The Gra­nary or Owl Barn (Honey­moon Suite) or £550 per night for the Gar­den Barn, which sleeps a max­i­mum of seven peo­ple. All rates in­clude a break­fast bas­ket.

“The horses have kept the fam­ily grounded and given us many hours to­gether in the out­doors”

num­ber of baby deer pranc­ing through the fields. It was a truly un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence.

Back at the main house and the farm of­fers lux­ury lodg­ings in the shape of three out­build­ings, which have been trans­formed into comfy coun­try ac­com­mo­da­tion. The Gra­nary is a con­verted grain store with one dou­ble bed­room on a mez­za­nine level, which can also ac­com­mo­date a child on an ex­tra bed, and has a ful­lye­quipped kitchen, bath­room and sit­ting room; Owl Barn is an 18th cen­tury build­ing of­fer­ing a lux­ury dou­ble room with ad­join­ing open-plan bath­room; and Gar­den Barn, which sleeps seven across four bed­rooms, also has a kitchen and vaulted sit­ting room.

We stayed in Owl Barn, which the Hut­ley’s fondly re­fer to as the ‘Honey­moon Suite’. In­deed the roll-top bath was a par­tic­u­larly wel­come sight to soothe our aching limbs after the trek!

But the farm isn’t just for those who want to ex­plore the hills on horse back; it also caters for those spe­cial oc­ca­sion gath­er­ings. Whether it’s an in­ti­mate fam­ily din­ner in The Fal­low Barn, a huge cel­e­bra­tory birth­day bash in a mar­quee on the lawn or even say­ing your wed­ding vows on the jetty over the lake, it pro­vides a pretty spec­tac­u­lar back drop. Food and drink is taken care of by cater­ing part­ners, Kelm­s­ley Cater­ing & Events.

What’s so nice about Slades Farm how­ever, is that you don’t re­ally need a spe­cial oc­ca­sion to visit, it’s the per­fect place to get some head space from ev­ery­day life. Just a few hours here will trans­port you to a world away from it all.

“Our aim on each and ev­ery trek is that you feel that you have got away from it all; lis­tened to, seen, and felt the nat­u­ral beauty that ex­ists at Slades Farm,” says Lulu. “With the hus­tle and bus­tle of ev­ery­day life, we can some­times for­get to ap­pre­ci­ate it all. We hope you will feel re­freshed, re­vived and ready to go back to the real world.”

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