April 27, 2022 04:12 PM

Meet Oughtershaw Hall’s House Manager – Ben

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Holidays are all about bringing people together, and our luxury holiday retreats do just that as the entire Catch the Breeze Retreats team has a genuine understanding of what makes a holiday special. Therefore, it is more than fitting we introduce you to the people that make holidaying with Catch the Breeze Retreats truly unforgettable.

We begin this meet the team series with someone who knows everything there is about the Yorkshire Dales and perfectly maintains Oughtershaw Hall. We proudly introduce to you Oughtershaw Hall’s house manager, Ben Hart.

Ben lives only two miles up the road from Oughtershaw Hall at Swarthghyll Farm, so he is always on hand to aid in the maintenance of the property as well as being the friendly face that welcomes guests, provides a guided tour of the Hall, and answers any questions or queries guests may have whilst staying at the property. Ben is a true Yorkshire farmer, when asked about his hobbies and interests, Ben responded, “I love animals and farming, I love walking, swimming, clay pigeon shooting, watching the rugby, and getting out and about with friends and going out for food. And I’d say my favourite hobby is probably working!” As you can most likely tell from Ben’s answer, he relishes the opportunity to work on the maintenance and projects at Oughtershaw Hall as most of it takes place outside in the picturesque landscape of the Yorkshire Dales.

Maintaining high calibre properties is not for the fainthearted, and we are proud to say that Ben has been part of the Catch the Breeze Retreats team for eight years since joining us in 2014. Ben commented, “It was a great opportunity given to me and I love my role, and the Hall itself is such a great place in the heart of the Dales.” We are so pleased to have someone like Ben on our team as the skills and experience he brings to his role as house manager is unmatched.

He has a great deal of responsibilities, but the day to day routine of Ben’s role is always changing, so we asked Ben to elaborate further on what exactly his role entails so our guests can get to know him better. Ben explained, “My responsibilities at the Hall include looking after the maintenance, both inside and out. I look after the grounds too, so that’s the cutting of the lawns and the flower beds and looking after the riverside walk. Also the walling and fencing, anything that needs doing outside really.”

But Ben is not just our outdoorsman, he continued, “I’m here to meet and greet guests and show them around the Hall itself and the grounds, and explain everything in the Dales, what there is to do and places to go.” As previous Oughtershaw Hall guests can vouch, Ben does a fantastic job of maintaining the property, from fixing squeaky hinges and dripping taps to painting walls, watering the gardens, maintaining our indoor swimming pool, and taking great care of our guests.

With so many different elements and tasks to his role, we were curious, as we are sure you are too, as to what Ben’s favourite part of his role could be. Ben answered, “I love everything about it! I love all the history the Hall has behind it, I enjoy looking after the gardens and the grounds and meeting new people. I love hearing the guests’ reactions as well once they’ve stayed here.” Ben still gets enchanted by the rich history and picturesque presence of Oughtershaw Hall eight years later, which is something we often hear from returning guests too. Ben truly is a people person, and at Catch the Breeze Retreats, we relish the opportunity to work alongside people who are like-minded and enjoy putting people first, ensuring their happiness when they stay with us at one of our properties.

Ben applies these skills and practises in other areas of his life; as previously mentioned, Ben works on his parents’ farm located very near Oughtershaw Hall, but that is not where Ben’s busy schedule ends. Ben certainly likes to keep himself busy when he’s not maintaining the Hall and making our guests’ luxury holiday an unforgettable one. He also runs a bunk barnwalkers flat and studio at Swarthghyll, and he is also an expert at dry stone walling which is a diminishing trade that Ben keeps alive through his excellent work. Like the other members of the Catch the Breeze team, Ben is always looking to the future for the next big project. He is very much looking forward to upcoming projects at Oughtershaw Hall, saying, “There are plenty of ongoing projects – we’re working on improving the riverside walk at the minute, which will be great. It’s going down from the Hall itself with a bridge going over into the woodland area. It will end at a nice seating area where you can have a lovely picnic by the river or enjoy some fishing and have a nice glass of wine in the evening.”

But Ben’s work does not end there, he has also been working on including a woodland that will support the habitation of more red squirrels at Oughtershaw with the help of a local squirrel ranger. Ben continued, “And of course, all the boundary work, walling, fencing, and general upkeep needs to be maintained, so there’s always plenty to do.” For Ben, the sky is the limit and he is always up for a challenge which is what has made Oughtershaw Hall the sublime and picturesque luxury holiday retreat it is today.

Ben truly lives and breathes the area, so we queried him about his favourite things about the Yorkshire Dales, he said, “I mean I love everything there is about the Dales – it’s an untouched landscape with rolling hills, wildlife, and amazing views, it’s such as peaceful place.” The Yorkshire Dales are well-known for their picturesque natural beauty, and we asked Ben what the best outside activities are, “There are loads of things to do in the Dales, obviously the walking is fantastic up here, we do boast the Dales Way which actually runs through my farm. We also have the three peaks, so we have some challenging walks if you want to be challenged. There’s obviously some less challenging walks as well if you just want a steadier walk, there’s plenty of riverside walks and meadows to scurry through too.”

But there’s a lot more to do than just walking and hiking, “There are also really good bike trails and some serious mountain bike trails if you’re into that, and the road biking is good as well as it’s where we hold Tour de Yorkshire.”

Although being adventurous in the wild outdoors might be for some guests, there are also those who prefer a more relaxed and curious exploration of the local areas. So, Ben recommended, “There are lots of quirky little villages and towns as well; there’s Dent which is a lovely place and is all cobbled streets and tight alleyways. Then you’ve got Hawes which is a 15 minute drive away and has the Wensleydale cheese factory, which is the home of Wallace and Gromit. Then there are the pubs, bakers, butchers, rope makers, and there’s a lovely little place called Forbidden Corner which is great for the kids – it hosts a labyrinth and puzzles and that’s near Leyburn.” Some other quaint locations to visit just down the road from Leyburn are the villages of Kettlewell and Buckden. Along the way to these villages from Leyburn, you will drive through the hamlet of Yockenthwaite, which is the location of Helen’s farm in Channel 5’s adaption of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ – keep an eye out for the packhorse bridge and red post box on the road to the Hall.

Ben well and truly knows the area and is always keen to ensure he can recommend activities, events, and places that each individual guest, as well as the whole party, will thoroughly enjoy. Some guests might want to walk off the beaten track and go somewhere that is not as frequently visited. Ben let us in on the best kept secrets in the Yorkshire Dales, “There’s a lot of secrets really, the Dales itself is a secret because it’s untouched. If you go to the Lake District, you’ll find it’s so busy with people, but the Dales at the minute is a really nice, quiet place to be.”

Ben continued, “There’s actually a tarn that no one knows about that’s accessible straight across from the Hall, you just walk straight up the hill to the top, and it’s a little secret tarn which has a view right around the Dales. Also, the River Wharf itself actually starts up at my farm and runs through the grounds of the Hall. And then you have all the riverside walks and quirky towns, so it’s a really great place to be.”

Ben finished by saying, “There’s loads to do, whatever you want to do the Dales is ready for you.”

Ben is an integral part of the Catch the Breeze Retreats team as well as in the running of our largest property, Oughtershaw Hall. His love for all things outdoors and his expert skills have ensured that our esteemed guests have had the best time during their stay with us, and he has been diligently ensuring this for over eight years.

To find out more about the other members of the Catch the Breeze team visit our team page and for further information on our properties and their availability all year round contact us on 01829 830 388 or email at info@catchthebreeze.co.uk.

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