Loose Reins offers luxury glamping in three cedar Pioneer cabins and in three safari style canvas lodges. The cabins are named Trappers, Gold Panners and Ranchers whilst the lodges are named Foresters, Hazel Meade and West Coombe.
The accommodation is spread out along the upper edges of a natural coombe which nestles at the base of Shillingstone Hill within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Loose Reins is located on the edge of The Blackmore Vale adjacent to the ancient hill forts of Hambledon and Hod Hills and it has far reaching views across to the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury and beyond.
Arriving at Loose Reins
We'll send easy to follow directions to you a few weeks before your stay, and you can also find them here on our website. We are at the very end of Lanchards Lane, a quiet 'no through road'. Drive until the road runs out and then look right – we have a wide and well signposted entrance – upon arrival take the gate to the left of the large Loose Reins sign, pass the barn, keeping it on your left, and park on the concrete just beyond the barn.
You'll be greeted by the owners or by a member of the friendly Loose Reins team. There's the option of a buggy service to transfer your luggage to your cabin or lodge. The it's time to move your car to the Guest Car Park which has its own gated entrance. The main entrance is locked at night. There's room for up to two guests in the buggy which will take you to your door - a ride that's always popular with children! We are a traffic free site so it is a short walk to your accommodation using gravel paths. These are unlit at night in order to reduce light pollution so you can enjoy the spectacular stars at night. The paths are a mixture of level, gently rising and steeper gradients, depending on which accommodation is chosen. Just call if you'd like to chat through anything in more detail.
Guests are encouraged to arrive between 4pm and 6pm when assistance with luggage will be available. If you arrive later, please park in the Guest Car Park and walk to your accommodation with your luggage (and a torch if it is dark); you'll find excellent marine-style luggage trolleys in the car park to help with this. Whilst we recommend arriving in daylight hours to get your bearings (and we love to greet our guests in person), don't worry if this isn't possible as we will send clear instructions on how to let yourself in and make yourselves at home.
On departure day, the buggy will be busy with housekeeping tasks so please make use of the luggage trolleys. If personal mobility considerations mean you require help with luggage on your departure day please let us know in advance and be sure to have everything ready to move by 9am before our cleaning team commandeer the buggy!
Access to the Cabins
Our cabins are surrounded by level gravel paths which lead to two wooden steps onto the covered porch. The wooden porch is 6m x 3m in size and contains a dining table, benches, rocking chairs and small tables. There are two more steps into the cabin itself where you will find a kingsize cabin bed, a seating/dining area which converts into a single bunk measuring 1.8m x 0.9m. We can also convert this dining area to sturdy bunks for the duration of your stay. We'll check with you in advance to confirm how you'd like things set up for your sleeping arrangements. Each cabin has a small but perfectly equipped kitchen containing a Belfast sink, gas cooker, three burner hob, fridge, shelves and storage cupboards. A small wood burning stove sits to one side surrounded by fire proof walls with a safety guard should it be required. Through a door on the same level you will find a bathroom with a full height standard sized shower with inward folding door, a small sink and a properly flushing toilet - there are no outdoor or compost loos here! A gas boiler provides instant hot water, and there is normal mains electricity with excellent lighting and several sockets. Light bulbs are LED and beds have reading lamps for your comfort and convenience. Candles are supplied and there is an excellent wind-up torch should you need it. The cabins enjoy access to our Guest Wifi; we are very rural and the WiFi can sometimes be patchy but there is good mobile coverage for most networks.
Access to our Lodges
Our lodges are all accessed via short but, in places, steeply rising gravel paths. Foresters has one step to access the deck whilst Hazel Meade and West Coombe have level access. Each lodge has a large deck with a four-seater sofa and two armchairs. All decks have an over-hanging electric lantern but candles are also supplied if you prefer a more romantic light. Foresters has safety lighting set into the external steps that comes on automatically at dusk and goes off at dawn. Hazel Meade and West Coombe have an additional hanging electric lantern to light up the entrance to the deck. Access to the lodge itself is through a canvas drop down door into a large open plan living/kitchen/dining room. The size of the lodge overall is 9m x 5m and the whole lodge floor is level and wood planked.
The living/dining/kitchen area has a four-seater sofa and armchair around a wood burning stove surrounded by a secure fire screen. A coffee table or wooden chest houses board games and there are electric standard lamps for additional lighting. Wall lighting is available throughout and all bulbs are LED. A large dining table with individual seats one side and a long bench the other provides plenty of space for six plus people to eat comfortably. The kitchen area has a four-burner gas hob, a sink and drainer and a combination microwave oven. Shelving and cupboards provide storage for the full complement of kitchenware and tableware and provisions. An under counter fridge with small freezer compartment is provided and a long strip light illuminates the whole area for food preparation.
The lodge has wooden partition walls creating separate sleeping areas and an indoor bathroom. There is a single corridor leading past a king size cabin bed, and underneath is a children’s play area housing a desk, seat, beanbags and hanging rail. Off the corridor is the generously sized private bathroom containing a proper flushing toilet, a vanity unit and basin with mirror above and a double self-contained rain shower with hose attachment. There is a lockable sliding door for privacy. There are two wall lights in the bathroom, one adjacent to the shower and one above the wall mirror. At the end of the corridor is a bedroom with king size four poster bed and a further room with two single beds. Both bedrooms have full length heavy curtains for privacy. All bedrooms have reading lights, wall lights, sockets and windows with fly screens. Candles are supplied for romantic lighting and there is an excellent wind-up torch should you need it. Foresters and Hazel Meade have access to our Guest Wifi but, given our remote nature, the signal can be patchy at times; the reception rarely reaches West Coombe. There is good mobile coverage for most networks.
Smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors are installed in each cabin and lodge, and smoking is not permitted inside or on the porches and decks. You will also find a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen and a basic first aid kit in the bathroom. Whilst we hope you won't need it, information on how to reach our local GP at Child Okeford (5 minutes) and our minor injuries unit in Blandford Forum (10 minutes) are covered in the Welcome Pack information in each lodge or cabin.
Two well behaved dogs per cabin or lodge are most welcome at Loose Reins, £25 per dog per stay, although we recommend that they are of a smaller variety if you are staying in a cabin. We are mindful that some guests might be nervous of dogs and we also have livestock that can be worried by dogs. Therefore we have a few requirements to help protect our livestock, the peace and quiet of Loose Reins and to keep things clean for all. If you'd like to let your dog off the lead in one of our empty paddocks, please ask - you'll be very welcome; we just ask that you stay with them, keep a close eye and pick up the poo to ensure the health and hygiene of our livestock as we regularly move them. When not in an enclosed paddock, please keep your dogs on leads at all times whilst on site and we ask that they are never allowed on the furniture and beds. To help your dog enjoy the luxury glamping experience, too, we provide a wonderful welcome pack for them including dog beds, towels, bowls and treats.
The areas surrounding the lodges and cabins are laid to grass with some inter-planting of native trees and shrubs. The forest surrounding the site is accessible from the public footpath running next to our entrance or directly from within Loose Reins by rough paths hewn into the banks. These banks can be slippery and awkward to climb, particularly if the weather has been wet, so please take care and be aware that you use them at your own risk. Whilst we encourage guests to make the most of our lovely forest side location we advise that parents keep an eye on their children whilst they play. The horse paddocks are laid to pasture and fenced securely with chestnut post and rail fencing. Some fences have a single strand of electric rope running on the inside of the top rail which is connected to a solar powered battery. The fence stops the horses from chewing the rails and if touched gives a mild electric shock; therefore please do not touch the electric fence at all and please make sure your children know not to do this. It doesn't feel very nice! At no time should guests enter the horse paddocks for safety reasons (theirs and yours) and please do not feed any of our animals no matter how beseeching they look. Feeding by hand encourages biting, pushiness and other rude behaviour. Some foods are also dangerous for horses, sometimes surprisingly so - it is not uncommon for a carrot or apple to cause a horse to choke and even die. There are several immature trees on the grounds which need time to mature before they are used as swings or for tying up annoying brothers and sisters using the bull roping lasso.
All paths on site are gravelled for clean, easy walking and the area surrounding the barn is concreted or laid with road planings which have been recycled from Dorset’s famous Badbury Rings road. The area is fairly level and access into the horse barn is also level apart from a shallow grooved drain which is easily negotiable with a wheelchair. Entrance to the office is via a standard width door and there is a door kerb making wheeled access difficult. However, there is level access into the barn via alternative doors to the function room and then a wheelchair friendly width door to the office area. There is a public toilet next to the office in the barn with wheelchair width access and the toilet itself is suitable for disabled use. Guests share the grounds with up to a dozen horses so everyone needs to be aware of them moving around the site and we ask that guests of all ages do not enter the round pen or arena without a member of the Loose Reins team present. Loose Reins staff must be present when guests enter the barn apart from guests holidaying with their own horse who will, of course, have access to their horse.
The General Stores
Our little shepherd's hut has a range of treats, everyday items and wonderful ready-to-pop-in-the-oven meals. It is accessed via two wooden steps leading to a standard size door. It is open during office hours and you will have a key to access it at other times; in the lodges, your key will be hanging at the end of the kitchen worktop and if you are staying in a cabin, it will be on the same key ring as your cabin key. The shop itself is quite small, measuring about 4m x 3m and is lit by two wall lights. Allergens present in our cooked meals can be found in a booklet left for reference in the shop, or just ask one of the Loose Reins team.
We are situated on the edge of The Blackmore Vale in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in North Dorset. Shillingstone village is centrally located on the North Dorset Trailway which runs for some 15 miles and follows the old Somerset and Dorset Railway. The A357 runs through the main part of the village connecting it to the market town of Sturminster Newton 10 minutes to the north and the Georgian town of Blandford Forum 10 minutes to the south. The county town of Dorchester is 30 minutes to the West and the Cathedral City of Salisbury is 30 minutes to the North East. Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast is just 45 minutes away and access to the A303 is 30 minutes to the north whilst the M27 is just 40 minutes to the south.
Discover us by Car
|London||2 hours 30 minutes via the M3 and A303|
|Birmingham||3 hours via the M5|
|Brighton||2 hours 30 minutes via the M27|
|Bath||1 hour via the A36|
|Bristol||1 hour 30 minutes via the A350|
|Reading||2 hours via the M3|
|Swindon||1 hour 45 minutes via the A350|
|Oxford||2 hours via the A34|
|Exeter||1 hour 40 minutes via the A303|
|Plymouth||2 hours 15 minutes via the A30|
Discover us by Train
South West Trains from Waterloo take just 1 hour 50 minutes to reach Gillingham, Dorset station and the journey from Exeter St Davids to Sherborne Station takes just 1 hour 10 minutes. Gillingham Station is 25 minutes from Salisbury Station for journeys from Bristol or Southampton. Both Sherborne and Gillingham Stations are just 30 minutes taxi ride from Loose Reins.
Discover us by Plane
|Bournemouth Airport||45 minutes|
|Southampton Airport||1 hour|
|Exeter Airport||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Bristol Airport||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Heathrow Airport||2 hours|
|Gatwick Airport||2 hours 30 minutes|
Loose Reins Limited
Telephone 01258 863533 or 07508 708138
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: 8.30 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Sunday