Short break - Sun Hill Lodges, Constable Burton, Leyburn
- Credit: Archant
Jo Haywood and family head to Richmondshire for a weekend on the gallops
Little House on the Prairie was one of my guilty pleasures as a child. I would sit on our ghastly brown velour sofa next to our crazy paving-style stone fireplace and pine for Laura Ingalls’ dinky wooden home, with its hand-crafted quilts and mason jars of preserves.
Yes, there was always a good chance you might be bitten by a horse, maimed by a scythe or struck blind by scarlet fever (it happened to Laura’s sister Mary, who had to spend the remainder of the series bumping into heavy wooden furniture), but I would still have swapped our 1970s West Yorkshire terrace for their little log house in Walnut Grove any day of the week.
Which is a rather long-winded way of explaining why I still get over-excited as a supposed grown-up at the prospect of holidaying in a wooden lodge. As a family, we’ve had the very good fortune to stay in several over the years – from huge chalet-style numbers in Switzerland to smaller eco homes in the Lake District – but none has quite ticked all my Little House boxes as much as our recent sojourn at Sun Hill above Constable Burton.
This exclusive development of four luxury log properties set in the horse racing yard of renowned trainer Ann Duffield has been meticulously designed to recreate the warmth and character of country cabin living while upping the luxury to levels even Nellie Oleson would have approved of (consult your big book of Little House if you don’t know who she is).
We were stabled in Alborada, named after a champion racehorse ridden on all but one occasion in her career by Ann’s husband George, who rode 2,547 winners in his own career – twice riding more than 100 winners in a season – and was awarded an MBE in 2003 for his services to British horse racing.
The two-bedroom lodge more than lived up to the pedigree of its namesake, with its winning combination of space and style. It was obvious from the moment we walked in that no expense has been spared on this exclusive little holiday development. Each lodge has been meticulously designed to make the most of the beautiful views across the gallops (you can watch the racehorses training while you breakfast on the terrace) and to create an ingenious interior style that is both warmly rustic yet packed with modern must-haves.
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Each lodge is kitted out with super-king four poster beds, en-suite bathrooms, widescreens TVs, free WiFi, iPod docking stations and American-style fridges, but there are also wood-burning stoves, piles of sweet-smelling logs, comfy slippers and wicker baskets packed with local produce.
Ann and her designer have pulled off that often elusive trick of making homely and high-tech seem like comfortable bedfellows. As a result, we settled in to our lodge retreat within minutes of dumping our bags in the bedrooms, pouring ourselves a glass of something sparkling and taking in the view across the Duffields’ picturesque farm and the dramatic hills beyond.
We discovered – or rather the 12 and 16-year-old discovered – that the best view of all came from the outdoor hot tub, where they took it in turns to luxuriate, bubbling and steaming away like teenager soup while I hovered with fluffy dressing gowns and hot chocolate.
Needless to say, relaxation was very high on our agenda, and we spent a great deal of time reading, chatting and just generally catching up in the luxury seclusion of our lodge.
Although we didn’t cut ourselves off from the world altogether, opting to spend a day at nearby Lightwater Valley, where the kids shot through the air at breakneck speeds on various rides while I blanched and waved from the safety of terra firma, and an afternoon shopping, browsing and tea-drinking in Richmond, it was the downtime spent in the lodge itself that lingered long after we’d returned to our usual rather hectic city lives.
Let’s just say I’m no longer jealous of Laura Ingalls and her Little House on the Prairie; not when I’ve got the warm memories of our Not So Little Lodge on the Gallops. w
For more details about Sun Hill Lodges in Constable Burton, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 5RJ, call 01677 450303 or visit sunhill-lodges.co.uk