Spring has Sprung!

At last the grass has started to grow….which means I had also get blogging again!

I must admit I was tired of twittering, blogging, and FBing about none other than the snow, how cold it was etc etc and i am not going to go over it again now.

We have been lambing, and again what a torrid time most farmers have had this year, fortunately we have only been dipping in and out of “Uncle Obdobs” with the 2 children who find it amazing. They have been scrambling into pens to feed the pet lambs and I am amazed that even when the true reality of farming hits they seem to understand even at the little ages of 4 & 5.

Anyway that seems to be over now, but are expecting a foal soon….more later!

We have had many guests already this year who have fought the weather to come and stay. I am pleased to report they all seem to think it has been worth it! We have had to reschedule several visits this year and good news is that they will be coming round soon for those who have been disappointed that they have been unable to attend.

Le grand depart is coming! July 5th next year, the first stage of Le Tour de France will cycle literally through the dale! We have had a couple of enquiries to stay, but I am holding out for team Sky and Bradley wiggins…I have actually tweeted them on the idea!


At the cottage, this weekend I may just dare to plant out some veg in the patch.. I know it has risks but can’t continue to look at the redundant ground.

Last weekend we went to the Rare breed sale at York auction market. I thought I may of had some exciting news in respect of a new addition to the brood, but alas no. I have had my sights set on a highland, Longhorn or a Belty for years and this was going to be it. Nothing Moo-ved us!

We did however expand the eccentric chicken collection with some more Pekins and some very pretty Frizzles. Here is one!


The eggs are tiny!

Paddocks have been hoovered and we are going through our spring maintenance program. So who knows what we will rear this year.

On the sporting front we have entertained some guests on a shooting weekend in association with Warren Gill, at Fearby. They had a great time with Anne and Dave and this continues to be a favourite short break. if you haven’t tried it…what have you got to loose details on the our site.

I am still stalking the river, however this weekend is going to be perfect. It has been too cold for months and as yet have not donned waders this year. The Ure looks beautiful a the moment. As I crossed the bridge at Masham last night, the sunlight glimmered over the surface and there were many fish rising.

One downside to Spring which is going to commence today is lawn mowing season! 3 acres once a week is a lot of mowing.

However my waistline could do with it!

Post back and look forward to seeing you all soon!

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Winter warmers!

Children back to school means autumn on the way, Time to switch rods for guns!

I have been able to both participate (Newton Mulgrave near Whitby) and host a team of guns staying at the cottage already this year. There are numerous well known lowland and grouse shoots very close to Agra Cottage – Swinton Park, Jervaulx, Fountains Abbey, who all let days. If you need help in arranging a day we can assist. Accordingly we have signed up with Guns on Pegs, as an accommodation provider and our first party had a great time. They arrived with guns, dogs and good cheer.

Our new Balmoral Reeves kennel block went down a storm with ‘mans best friend’ as they were kept dry, warm and comfortable further to a big day out.


The guns enjoyed great early season partridge and we had prepared a joint of beef for their return accompanied by much red wine! I even managed a brace for the freezer!

Autumn is very busy this year, possibly as a result of the awful summer weather. Guests have been watching the forecast before booking, however we now have a flurry of activity with only a few weekends available through September and October.

We are now also booked up for Christmas and New Year.

We have launched an autumn mid week offer which has been well received which includes home made supper prepared for your arrival and a reduced accommodation rate for 3 nights or more.

The female contingent of the family have taken to the saddle in a major way. Mummy is hell bent on hunting this year as are my 3 and 5 year olds ( I can see a backlash here on first meet!)

Having recently been lucky enough to have a go on an Segway X2 (the off road one!) I have decided this would be the ultimate following vehicle! We actually went foraging on them, got plenty of sloes and could have gathered a few mushrooms to boot. That is a weekend break I have wanted to arrange for some time, mushrooms and berries in the autumn paired with some cooking to show off our spoils…if anyone could assist in this please get in touch. A yorkshire version of white truffle hunting in Peidmont!

All in all I think I prefer the winter, warm jumpers, log burning stove, winter sports and great dark evenings with friends, red wine and lots of banter.


Wonderful sunsets


Young foragers in action

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The Glorious Twelfth

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Rain wont stop play in Yorkshire!

Rain wont stop play in Yorkshire!

We try and provide as much live info as we can for those thinking of, or currently staying at Agra Cottage.We all know about the rain this year ,  can which affect our enjoyment away, but with a stiff upper lip and this link, you will find yorkshire is still great, what ever the weather, its not just about The Great Yorkshire Show!! (Which will be back next year!)
www.dalesdiscoveries.com  is an independent site, using recommendations from people who live in the Yorkshire Dales. None of the businesses mentioned on this site have paid to be here, nor is the site funded by any other organisation so you can be sure these are genuine recommendations from people who really love the area.
We think its really useful for those off the beaten track ideas.
If you’d like a more official and comprehensive guide to this beautiful area, please go to the sites run by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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The dales signed up for third series

More great news for yorkshire, the world is still interested in what we are, do, and where we are so very lucky to live.

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All the Yorkshire dales are defined by great rivers. The River Wharfe in Wharfedale, The Nidd in Nidderdale, The Cover in Coverdale, The Tees In Teesdale and so on. In Wensleydale we have the The River Ure, which incidentally is the only major river that does not share the name with its dale.

The River Ure rises in the hills above Hawes in Wensleydale and flows about 45 miles where it joins The River Swale at Boroughbridge.  The River Ure is rightly famous for the quality of its Brown Trout and Grayling fishing and many would consider the fishing on the River Ure as some of the best available in the Yorkshire Dales. In recent years there have also been increasing numbers of Salmon caught and in the 1800’s it was full of Salmon. The Ure Salmon Trust quotes that “32 tonnes (6000 fish) were taken in The Ouse system in 1883”.

The River Ure tributaries, the River Cover and the River Bain are enchanting and also provide excellent opportunities for fly fishing.

We are very fortunate being only 4 miles from Masham which means we are virtually on the doorstep of this first class trout and Grayling river. Whilst a lot of the river is within the rights of various fishing clubs, we do have access to some of these beats and in addition there is some great day ticket fishing as well.

One other thing that you find near great water is great Beer! Masham is famous for its 2 breweries, Theakstons and The Black Sheep both very well located next to the river and suitable for studying the water levels!

The Coverbridge Inn is another great strategic spot for fishing and beer. It is as it suggests An “Inn” adjacent to the “bridge” over the “Cover” River and located further up the dale past East Witton, where the Cover meets the Ure and sells day tickets for both.

There are also numerous still waters in the area, notably Leighton reservoir, which is run by Swinton Estate.

However I am a rivers man!

I have taken the following extracts from Yorkshire dales fly fishing website for your further information (http://www.yorkshire-dales-flyfishing.com/day-ticket-yorkshire.htm) The website is a great source of information for fishing in the dales.


Tel – Environment Agency Rivercall Service: 0906 619 7722 – R. Ure = Option 3 (Premium Rate)
Web – Environment Agency River Levels:
 Swale, Ure, Nidd and Upper Ouse

Bainbridge – is situated in Upper Wensleydale on the River Ure. It has good fly fishing for brown trout and grayling run by Wensleydale Angling Association, but as this is near the headwaters of the Ure it is best fished after rainfall. The scenery here as good as it gets; with broad open meadows, stone barns dotted around the fields and rugged hills stretching as far as the eye can see. A map is issued with your permit which also includes fishing on the smallest river in England, the River Bain.

Day tickets issued: by the Rose and Crown in Bainbridge
Cost:- £10
Telephone:-             01969 650225
Google satellite image and directions to Rose and Crown:
 Click Here
Main access points: Bainbridge – River Ure and lower River Bain (the R. Bain is the line of trees to the east/right) – Bainbridge – River Bain (middle section) 

Hawes– is the next village upstream from Bainbridge in Upper Wensleydale and also has good fly fishing on the River Ure and its tributaries. I have never fished these tributaries, but have heard reports that although very difficult to fish, they do have good trout fishing with some large fish. The fishing is controlled by Hawes and High Abbotside Angling Association who have 15 miles of trout and grayling fishing.

Day Tickets:- can be obtained from the Three Peaks shop in the village of Hawes.
Cost:- £16 per day or £30 a week.
Telephone:-             01969 667443       (Three Peaks) or             01969 650117       (Mr Phillips – club sec.)
 Hawes & High Abbotside Fishing Association Map
Access points:- Appersett (for upper/middle areas) – Burnt Acres Road (for lower/middle areas)”

We can assist with arranging your fishing whilst tailoring your stay at Agra Cottage. We offer short breaks and fishing weeks within our boutique breaks section on our website.  We also offer gastro breaks, golfing, walking, cycling, bird watching, shooting and pampering breaks we will do our best to provide you with a great holiday www.selfcateringcottages.net.

We can highly recommend a great tackle shop in Harrogate, The Brown Trout, speak to Tim Brown he has all the local knowledge and some very privileged access as well, mention us and he might get you a coffee if nothing else! http://www.browntroutsporting.co.uk/ Whether you join us or not he is worth speaking to if you are looking for tackle!

Should you wish to take the opportunity to hone your craft and or take on a bit of guiding, we have just the man…

Feel free to drop me an email to discuss mark@agracottage.co.uk

By the way the chairman of a local fishing club caught a 17lb Salmon 2 weeks ago on the Ure….Tight Lines!

Here is a little brownie I caught last week on The Driffield Trout Stream.

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Fairytale Cottage

Sorry i had not posted this earlier but very much learning as we go..today found the reblog button!! Enjoy a recent review of the cottage by co founder of #yorkshirehour. twitters favourite yorkshire trend.

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Crap Shots!!

Our first clay shooting  guests, one of our special winter breaks offers, visited Agra Cottage last weekend.

Guests arrived with Dogs and guns ready for action. The party was made up of both experienced and first time shots, girls and boys.

We are very fortunate at Agra Cottage to be on the doorstep of Warren Gill, which is the most natural and beautiful shooting grounds I know. Dave and Ann Elgie who own and run the ground are both perfectionists in their field as well as and damn good company on the way round the 42 unique stands!

Eleanor and I were also asked to make up the numbers, which was a bonus! (Eleanor is the Wife!)

The Girls Set off at 9am, which left the men with the children. (I don’t know who was more worried them or us!)

The girls were booked in for an hour and a half session with Ann who is a fully qualified coach and Safety Officer. Two of  the ladies had never seen, let alone picked up a gun. however they were very quickly made comfortable and relaxed into an enjoyable day.  As the men arrived to switch over, they were all wax lyrical about their time at Warren Gill, promising to return.

As you can imagine the men were all experts (in fact this could have been nothing further than the truth) and the skill was really in the banter on the way round as one another tried to divert concentration away from breaking the clays.

For more information on Clay Shooting weekend stays visit our website. www.selfcateringcottages.net

We combine a 3 night stay around a clay shooting tuition or practice day with shoot hamper lunch or Pub supper from £120pp based on 4 persons.

If shooting is not for you or you would rather indulge in something else we offer gastronomic, beauty, outward bound and golf weekend breaks as well!

Oh one last thing…I won the boys challenge! Why are they wearing ear defenders for this picture??!

happy faces after a morning at Warren Gill

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all.

We are now full steam ahead with 2012 and putting wheels in motion for another good year.

We have over the last few months been improving and enhancing the cottage and its facilities.

The big project has been the upgrading of  our provisions for “mans best friend” and have accordingly created 3 brand new insulated kennels with private sleeping quarters and runs!

We have had several happy visitors already, the shooting dogs can’t believe their luck. My 2 happily go in of their own accord for some piece and quiet!

The weather has been a bit strange,  mild and wet,  compared to 12 inches of snow last year.  Ice and snow replaced with gallons of water.

The ducks are loving it however the ponies are not so. I have had to lay some slabs in the field shelter to keep their hooves out of the mud. The chickens also seem to have taken up residency in there as opposed to their own coop.

We have also installed a bigger and better freezer in the cottage prior to the festive period. We were fully booked up again this year for christmas and New Year  and as you would expect more food and drink. This enhancement was well received and there for all to benefit from in 2012.

Just trying to get the veg plan sorted for this year, with it being so wet composting the beds is proving difficult. Last year we planted a flower cutting garden and without exception all the guests loved fresh flowers during their stay.

We have already received our first visitors for this year and taken bookings in March and June so fingers crossed we continue to hit the spot in terms of what our guests are looking for.

As last year we have launched a series of winter weekend breaks, gastronomic weekends ranging from great pub grub to fine Michelin dining. Clay pigeon shooting, walking, cycling and pampering from the warmth of the cottage as our specialist therapist comes to you.

Only one pest..the moles! My neighbouring farmer has caught 300 over winter. i cannot catch what i think is one.

I can see myself in that  Jasper Carrot sketch if i dont get a break through soon!

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Rabbit-resistant plants / Royal Horticultural Society

Rabbit-resistant plants / Royal Horticultural Society.

In my mission to “starve” out the rabbits i have found this list of resistant plants which we will be following in our new troughs and beds. Combined with a programme of shooting, although need to be a bit careful of the guests, will get on top of the situation before food starts to run out and they start to eat anything!!!

Thought this would be useful to many others!

Next issue moles….

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