Stable Stays - how Friesian horses can be a feature of your visit to a Cartmel B&B

Friesians among buttercups

Friesians among buttercups - Credit: Sandy Kitching

A Cartmel family have created a new style of accommodation that is proving popular with lovers of beautiful black Friesian horses.

Sylvia, Tracey and Tamara Alexander with mare Anja

Sylvia, Tracey and Tamara Alexander with mare Anja - Credit: Sandy Kitching

For equestrian lovers it's the ultimate sleepover - a unique chance to spend quality time with a beautiful horse in its stable. They can spend the night sleeping beside a black beauty surrounded by glorious Lakeland scenery, or they can groom their stable mate to their heart's content.

The Stable Stays scheme is run by sisters Tracey and Tamara Alexander, and their mother Sylvia. Tracey looks after the equestrian business caring for more than 15 magnificent Friesian horses, while Tamara and Sylvia run the popular Greenback Farm B&B.

Tracey says this is a wonderful way for guests to get really close to a Friesian horse without having to do any riding.

'Each year we have a growing number of visitors coming from all over the world to ride our black beauties and take in the Lake District views along the way,' says Tracey. 'People can also learn to drive a carriage or have a farm tour meeting some of the horses, all of whom are exceptionally gentle, friendly and inquisitive.'

The Stable Stays accommodation

The Stable Stays accommodation - Credit: Sandy Kitching

Tracey has noticed a significant increase in the number of people suffering from illness, or with a disability that prevents them from riding, booking bespoke experiences where they can greatly benefit from spending time with horses.

'Not everyone has the strength to ride a Friesian, but they can enjoy a tailor-made day of activities to suit their riding ability, or simply spending time having a therapy session being close to our gentle horses who love to be pampered,' Tracey explains. 'That's why the sleepovers are so special as people can be alone with the horse and groom them all night if they wish!'

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The magnificent whitewashed Grade II listed Greenbank Farm, which was built into the side of the slate fell in the 17th century offers B&B accommodation, or groups can rent the whole house.

The Stable Stays accommodation comprises a small kitchen and dining area and a wet room with WC so guests can snuggle up in a bunk bed next to their equine bedfellow.

Bailey Alexander with one of the horses

Bailey Alexander with one of the horses - Credit: Sandy Kitching

'We have been delighted to see people of all ages already coming for a sleepover with either one of our Friesians or our cheeky little Shetland pony,' Tracey explained. 'Everyone who stays loves being able to get close to a horse in the still quiet hours of the morning and they have felt therapeutic and calming benefits spending time grooming.

To help raise funds for things like unexpected vets bills, the Alexander women have launched a new not-for-profit arm of the business where funds will be saved for the care of the Friesians in the future.

Stable Stays has been converted into a high quality self-catering unit which retains plenty of original features and provides a cosy feeling of warmth and luxury with Egyptian cotton sheets and soft faux fur bedding. The stable partition between the horse and human accommodation has been hand-made by talented local farrier, Chris Milby.

My husband, George, and I arrived at the stables just before sunset. Gold and copper hues illuminated Cartmel Priory in the valley below as two horses in a paddock by the farmhouse came to welcome us. We were excited to be sleeping over with a veteran Friesian gelding called Hidde. This experience was extra special for me as Hidde was the first Friesian I ever had the privilege to ride 10 years ago.

Friesians among buttercups

Friesians among buttercups - Credit: Sandy Kitching

The accommodation has been so cleverly put together with a stable and cosy bed for our equine companion. The adjacent human accommodation offers a double bunk on bottom and a single on top with a perspex partition below so we could watch Hidde all night. The top bunk is open offering a unique experience to get close and stroke him. Treats and Polos are reciprocated with cuddles.

Our four-legged equine companion was squeaky clean, having had a full wash and blow dry before our arrival. Tracey and Tamara gave us a tour of the stable and talked through what the horse needed, including his pre-prepared dinner and breakfast buckets. Tracey provides a grooming kit full of luxurious products and soft brushes to make a horse shine from head to tail, so I enjoyed getting in and gently grooming and massaging Hidde.

This was a wonderful and unique experience that made my childhood dreams of being close to a black beauty a reality.

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