Coach House Cottages, Gilling East – Review
By Matt Callard
We’ve been in this neck of the woods before. Clinking afternoon tea cups with the bikers at The Black Swan in nearby Helmsley. Indulging in a spot of fine dining at the Michelin-starred The Star in Harome. Propping up the aged wooden bar in the famous old White Swan in Pickering. But never before have we felt quite so relaxed, so remote, so free from the toils and squabbles of the big city rat race than in Gilling East. Or, more specifically, in the recently renovated Coach House Cottages. An incredibly lovely and stylish brand new barn conversion in the village, which lies just south of the North Yorkshire Moors in the Howardian Hills.
Gilling East’s chocolate box prettiness comes complete: twinkling stream running down the side of the main street, dinky little bridges over said stream into residents’ gardens, a perfectly unkempt old church, frolicking animals in the surrounding fields, handsome gastropub (The Fairfax Arms) serving solid fare in Yorkshire portions – and when you arrive at Coach House Cottages you’ll find it’s all fully prepared to easily assimilate you to the more sedate pace of country living.
The owners have recently returned to Yorkshire via a long and winding circular life route through some of Italy’s fairer regions. They understand most of their visitors will be here to relax and decompress and that they probably have the ideal location in which to facilitate this. So expect a warm greeting upon arrival, a quick tour of your immaculate cottage (there are three – we stayed in the two-bedroom/four sleeper Pear Tree Cottage) and a few nice touches to ease you into your stay.
They will leave fresh farm eggs, tea, coffee, milk and even a terrific bottle of authentic olive oil direct from the owners’ Italian land. Over the course of your stay, they’ll check in at convenient moments to make sure everything is just-so but, crucially, you’ll never feel like you’re being spied on or fussed over. Really, this is your peaceful world to do as you please for the length of your stay – even if that means doing precisely nothing.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of nearby pursuits for the more energetic. Foodie haven Helmsley is only five miles away and offers all manner of culinary delights, Ampleforth golf course is up the road, Duncombe Park hosts quite spectacular birds of prey flying demonstrations and there’s Castle Howard, Rievaulx Abbey and Nunnington Hall all within easy day trip distance. Coach House Cottages even possesses a slightly incongruous tennis court should the need take you – but it remained blissfully silent during our stay.
It was only 18-months ago that the cottages were dilapidated barns with little to suggest that they were, in fact, once used by nobility from nearby Gilling Castle to repair their horse-drawn carriages. Owner Louise Legard commented: “We knew little of the building’s history when we bought the place two years ago. At that point, it had become pretty run down with a leaky roof and some walls open to the elements. But we instantly fell for its gorgeous location and lovely views across the Ampleforth Valley. We decided straight away that this was the place we wanted to settle. As we’ve restored it, we’ve learnt about its past as a coach house and its links to Gilling Castle and the famous Fairfax name.”
It’s certainly a loving and intelligent restoration, with classic Yorkshire cottage cosiness combining with flashes of modern Italian styling. Downstairs, full length windows let in lots of lovely light. A fully equipped kitchen adjoins on to a comfortable lounge via a large, wood-solid dining table. A gorgeous light oak staircase leads upstairs to a pretty main bedroom. There’s a bunk-bedded second room replete with quite stunning hand-crafted furniture. Oh, and you could happily live in the mouth-watering bathroom for a couple of days should you desire it.
Free wi-fi, dishwasher and Freeview TV add modern essentials to the experience. Plus, there’s a handy wash room and games room for the kids, should you require them. Artworks by June Emerson and Kate Bentley line the walls, all of which are actually for sale. Dogs, too, are welcome.
On evenings the hush of the countryside becomes palpable. It is then that you will feel your city stresses gently easing away. On mornings you’ll be greeted with a dawn chorus so loud and varied it’s positively symphonic
All of which means the parts add up to the experience you’re probably craving. Whether that’s a base to step out and explore the glory of god’s own county, or a haven in which to indulge in the lost art of doing precisely nothing. Either way, Coach Cottages have it covered.
For Coach House Cottages you can contact Louise on 01439 788631 or email [email protected].
Prices range from £221 low season to £348 high season for Clematis Cottage (sleeps 2) and £332 low season to £522 high season for Pear Tree Cottage (sleeps 4)
Short breaks are also available and dogs are welcome
For more details visit: coachhousecottages.co.uk