Loose Reins sits gently in the landscape and we aim to leave the lightest footprint as we 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 within half a mile of Loose Reins and we use eco-friendly firelighters. Our barn has passive infrared sensors so lighting is only used when activity takes place, and we use LED lighting in our accommodation. Our cabins are well insulated and need minimal energy to keep them cosy. Our safari lodges are open during the warmer months when heating tends to be less of an issue.
At Loose Reins we recycle as much waste as possible. Each cabin and lodge has separate bins for guests 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 recently switched our toiletries suppliers to Wild England who are Inspiring industry-wide change from damaging plastic amenity products to luxurious, long-lasting, refillable glass products.
We have our own borehole on site sunk into the greensand below the chalk escarpment adjacent to the site. This ensures our water tastes purer and fresher than normal tap water – there’s no need to purchase bottled water here! The borehole provides a plentiful 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 & Transport
Many visitors to Loose Reins choose to leave their car in our secure 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 guests can walk, cycle or ride for miles with a good choice of lovely country pubs within reach. We have bespoke walking maps in our accommodation and there are many circular routes to local pubs, villages and towns. 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. We have an on-site shop that sells food and toiletry basics as well as home cooked meals so guests can relax in the knowledge that everything they need is at hand. The products we stock are organic and local as much as possible, from award winning wines to toiletries – good for you and good for our environment.
Wildlife & Our Landscape
Prior to creating Loose Reins we invited specialists to our site to monitor and assess the biodiversity. This assessment highlighted the special role we could play in protecting what already existed and enhancing our environment to support and further develop 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 leaves areas of long grass which attract insects and butterflies and we are selective when hedge cutting to ensure nesting birds have plenty of habitat left. We’ve put up bee boxes and bird boxes on a woodland trail where guests can wander through the coppiced hazel and beech trees, enjoying scavenger hunts and family adventures together.
Local Economy & Culture
At Loose Reins we like to buy local to support 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, local hut makers, and furniture and fittings were created by craftsmen who belong to The Dorset Coppice Group, based in the forest behind us. Loose Reins belongs to The Dorset Coppice Group and guests are welcome to visit their base, The Living Classroom, to watch the craftsmen at work. Their products are even available to buy in our shepherd’s hut shop.
Loose Reins promotes local events and businesses and we 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 from Rolleys, an award-winning baker at Dorchester. The marmalade is made by a small business in a nearby village, Hazelbury Bryan, and our eggs are laid by our organically fed hens. You’ll find locally produced snacks in our shop, from Fudges Bakery, Olives et Al, Philberts, Burts and there’s jam from Ajar-of at Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset Cereals, Dorset coffee for your cafetieres as well as Dorset Tea. In our freezer you’ll find local bacon and sausages, marvellous BBQ packs, and wonderful Purbeck Ice-creams. Ask in the office to see our selection of award-winning, local wines, beers and ciders.
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 being close to nature with comfortable, luxury accommodation – there’s no better way to immerse yourself in this stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
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. Guests have also 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.