Loose Reins sits gently in the landscape and we aim to leave the lightest footprint as our business welcomes visitors to stay and enjoy our unique experience. We are committed to providing our guests with comfortable, luxurious accommodation whilst ensuring that the health and biodiversity of our land thrives. To that end we adopt the following principles which continue to be developed as our business matures.
Wood to fuel our wood burning stoves is sourced on site and within half a mile of Loose Reins. We use eco-friendly firelighters and our offices and barn have passive infrared sensors so lighting is only used when activity takes place. Pillar candles provide lighting in our accommodation and a backup supply of electricity uses LED bulbs which use light and energy more efficiently.
At Loose Reins we recycle as much waste as possible. Guests are politely asked to separate their rubbish for weekly council collection and when we source materials we aim to choose suppliers that package using minimal, recyclable packaging. We purchase cleaning products in bulk from environmentally friendly sources and our waste water is handled by an on-site water treatment plant which removes pollutants and allows clean water to soak away into the land. Waste from the stables is recycled onto our neighbours’ land or distributed to gardens in the village.
We have our own borehole on site which was sunk into the greensand below the chalk escarpment adjacent to the site. This borehole provides a year-round supply for our accommodation and stables and our water treatment plants extracts pollutants before the water is soaked away back into our land.
Vehicles and Transport
We encourage visitors to Loose Reins to park their car and leave it in the car park for the duration of their stay. We have direct access to hundreds of acres of woodland and hill walking, bridleways and cycle tracks and wherever possible we encourage guests to walk, cycle or ride. We have an on-site shop that sells camping basics as well as home cooked meals so guests can relax in the knowledge that everything they need is at hand. We have bespoke walking maps in our accommodation and we have many circular routes to local pubs, villages and towns and for large groups we have a local taxi firm who are happy to ferry groups to and from visitor attractions to reduce the need for multiple cars. Our welcome packs advise guests where they can purchase food from local suppliers within two miles of the site and we also offer to make special purchases for guests if they wish to avoid leaving site during their stay.
Wildlife and our Landscape
Prior to establishing Loose Reins we invited specialists to our site to monitor and create a biodiversity assessment. This assessment highlighted the special role we could play in protecting what already existed and enhancing our environment to increase biodiversity.
Loose Reins sits in a natural coombe at the base of Shillingstone Hill and our site enjoys visits from foxes, badgers, deer, rabbits, buzzards and many native birds and insects that thrive in this quiet and peaceful location. By coppicing the edge of the forest we have introduced habitats for small animals and birds to nest which replaces the abrupt join between pasture and beech wood. Additional planting of native trees and shrubs in fingers between lodges will join the existing woodland and create a soft landscape in which animals can thrive and guests can benefit from their close proximity.
Mowing at Loose Reins selects areas of long grass which attract insects and butterflies and we are selective when hedge cutting to ensure nesting birds have left. Bee boxes have been erected on a woodland trail where guests can wander through the coppiced hazel and beech trees and enjoy scavenger hunts and family adventures together.
Local Economy & Culture
At Loose Reins we like to buy local to return wealth created into our local economy. Local firms and craftsmen helped us create and establish Loose Reins and local contractors help us maintain and improve Loose Reins. Our cabins were built by craftsmen at Plankbridge, our local hut makers, and furniture and fittings were created by craftsmen who belong to The Dorset Coppice Group which are based in the forest behind us. Loose Reins belongs to The Dorset Coppice Group and we encourage guests to visit The Living Classroom from where they operate or we take them there on our Pioneer Trails so they can watch the craftsmen at work and then buy their products in our shop on-site.
Loose Reins promotes local events and businesses and have associations with catering, bike hire, taxi, veterinary and hospitality businesses to enhance our guests’ experience during their stay. We enjoy supporting local causes such as our local village Race Night which we sponsored and where £1800 was raised for a new defibrillator for the village hall. We like to promote local identity which helps to shape our community and ensures our business and those around us have a sustainable future. Wherever possible we like to recycle resources and a good example of this would be our riding arena base which is make up of road plainings taken from the road that runs through the avenue of beech trees at Badbury Rings; one of our local ancient monuments.
Loose Reins sits on the edge of The Blackmore Vale which the author and poet Thomas Hardy referred to as ‘The Vale of Small Dairies’. The dairy industry has contracted vastly over the last thirty years and whilst dairies continue to operate in the vale, they are few in number and larger in size to compete with competition from abroad. Farmers and producers in the Vale are ever resourceful and small, artisan food producers have flourished to offer guests a wide range of products of the highest standard and with the heritage and provenance of The Blackmore Vale.
In our welcome hamper are wonderful locally-made chocolate brownies; either from Tessa Tory who farms on the hill or from Rowleys an award-winning baker at Dorchester. The Jam comes from a local village called Hazelbury Bryan and our eggs are either laid by our hens or supplied from a friend at Blandford who keeps a large flock of free range hens. You’ll find locally produced snacks in our shop, from Fudges Bakery, Olives et Al, Philberts, Burts and there’s jam from Ajar at Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset Cereals, Dorset coffee for your cafetieres as well as Dorset Tea, Moores biscuits. In our freezer you’ll find Christine’s home-made puddings, local bacon and sausages and wonderful Purbeck Ice-creams. Ask in the office to see our selection of award-winning, local wines, beers and ciders.
Our meals are made by Tessa Tory who has a mixed livestock farm on Okeford Hill. She uses her own meats together with locally produced and sourced ingredients to make a range of one pot meals for you to heat up in your cabins or lodges. If you ask in the office we can point you in the direction of local producers who are happy for you to visit and buy their products at source. Langhams Wine Estate, Houghton Fish Farm (wonderful for Arctic Char), Gold Hill Organic Farm, Bere Marsh Farm (goat meat) and Dorset Blue Vinney Cheese are all within twenty minutes of Loose Reins. You can pick up a feast to cook later on your fire bowls!
Health & Happiness
Loose Reins is a tonic for modern life with its concept of relaxed living and gentle countryside activity. A stay at Loose Reins gives guests a sense of well-being which comes from the back to basics but comfortable accommodation and the means for guests to immerse themselves in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around them.
Guests are encouraged to park their cars and not return to them until they depart. Everything guests need can be found on-site and the many footpaths and bridleways radiating from Loose Reins can be enjoyed on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle. As well as gentle trail rides offered on our herd of American Quarter Horses, guest have enjoyed Yoga retreats and Pilates classes at Loose Reins. Our accommodation has wonderful porches or decking, with seating for guests to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet and there are board games for families and our Buckaroo Club for children during school holidays.
But perhaps the activity that embodies the spirit of Loose Reins is simply sitting around the fire pit with family and friends whilst enjoying food, conversation and building memories together.