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What it's like at Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate

PUBLISHED: 10:52 15 November 2018

Trekking the hills (Photo by Alex Stanhope)

Trekking the hills (Photo by Alex Stanhope)

Archant

Surrey is full of secret hideaways and hidden gems. Slades Farm on the Wintershall Estate is definitely one of them

I have 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.

The Owl Barn aka the honeymoon suite (Photo by Alex Stanhope)The Owl Barn aka the honeymoon suite (Photo by Alex Stanhope)

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 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 fully-equipped 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.”

Prices for a two-hour 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.

Slades Farm, Thorncombe Street, Bramley, GU5 0LT; 01483 208693; sladesfarm.co.uk

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