House Hunter: 'We want stables and open spaces'

Emily Pinkerton lives in Worcestershire but wants to move further west. She wants open spaces where she can ride her two horses, which need grazing and stabling. Her budget is about £500,000
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"We've been living near Pershore for 25 years and love the area, but as time has gone on, we have found that the lanes we used to ride along have become roads and the traffic is starting to spoil our hobby. Pershore just doesn't have the open spaces that we need to really enjoy our riding.

THE PROBLEM

"We've been living near Pershore for 25 years and love the area, but as time has gone on, we have found that the lanes we used to ride along have become roads and the traffic is starting to spoil our hobby. Pershore just doesn't have the open spaces that we need to really enjoy our riding.

"Although we want a bit of wildness, we don't want to be in the back-of-beyond as we have family in London who we'd like to spend weekends with us without spending 14 hours of each weekend in the car. We have made many of our closest friends while we have been here so it would be nice if we could all make day trips to visit each other. As we are now retired, we are also hoping to release some equity from our house.

"We don't want to be isolated but would prefer an out-of-village location. I look forward to having a snug house with at least three bedrooms, a good-sized kitchen and dining room, one other reception room and a good utility/tack room. We need a couple of fields for the horses, which should have a minimum of five acres, and we can build stables if we have to. I want be able to saddle the horses and go for a long ride without having to dress from head-to-toe in fluorescent yellow! There's nothing like a three-hour ride to keep you young!"

THREE PROPERTIES FOR EMILY TO VIEW

Property one: Urishay Barn, Michaelchurch, Escley Herefordshire

Agent: Clee Tomkinson Francis, 01497 820045 or e-mail hay@ctf-uk.com

Price: £470,000

Agent's details: This is a barn conversion set in six acres of level pasture with outstanding views. The property offers good-sized and well-laid out accommodation with part of it suitable for conversion as a granny flat or as holiday accommodation. There are three pasture paddocks and a modern steel frame building incorporating six loose boxes.

Property two: The Mill House, Llanvapley, Monmouthshire (above)

Agent: Elstons 01291 672138

Price: £495,000

Agent's details: The main part of the property consists of a reception room, fitted kitchen, utility room, three bedrooms and a conservatory. Subject to planning approval, the adjoining former mill could provide another three bedrooms and two reception rooms. There are several outbuildings and a four-acre paddock.

Property three: Rowan Dean House, Blakeney, Gloucester

Agent: Williams Parry Richard, 01594 845777 or e-mail lydney@wpr-property.co.uk

Price: £399,950

Agent's details: Dating from about 1760, this is a character home in a pleasant rural setting of two acres. Accommodation is arranged on three levels with additional cellar space which is suitable for a number of uses. There is a sitting room and dining room with impressive stone fireplaces. Outside are three paddocks and one has a barn or stable block.

JAMES'S ADVICE

"The motorway and 125-rail links to London are first-class for unspoilt Monmouthshire and the Forest of Dean. The area is becoming popular but the Pinkertons' budget of £500,00 is realistic.

"When looking for an equestrian property, it is important that you have enough acreage - horses can turn wet ground into a bog over a winter, so a minimum of one acre per horse should be considered.

"Stables need not be expensive, but you must make sure of the local planning situation. It is much better to approach the planners before you have bought the property rather than hope for the best and have all your plans ruined. Try to build stables close to the house - it's nice to be able to see the horses' heads poking out of stable doors.

"When she finds a property she likes, Emily should have a good walk, drive or ride around the area so that she knows what traffic levels are like and whether bridleways are where they are marked on the Ordnance Survey. Talk to locals about riding conditions and never assume that a friendly farmer who allows local riders to cross his land will do so forever - it only takes one person to leave a gate open and abuse the privilege for that privilege to be withheld.

"Property one has a fantastic position with far-reaching views. There is a range of outbuildings, including six stables and a barn. The fields are level and would drain well. One end of the house could be used as secondary accommodation for holiday lets or as a granny flat.

"Sometimes it is hard to find properties right in a village that also have land. Property two fits the bill, being on the edge of the village with four acres. Mill House is attached, and subject to planning, it would make a great self-contained annexe. Property three has excellent links to the M4 and M5 and access into the Forest of Dean."

James Greenwood is the regional director of Stacks Property Search, West Gloucester and South Wales: 01594 842880, www.stacks.co.uk

EMILY'S VERDICT

"James has covered a lot of miles and we are very pleased with what he has produced. His advice to focus on where we wanted to live has been invaluable as we had not been thinking about transport needs. We know now that the Forest or Monmouthshire is for us. Luckily, we don't need that much ground and could rent a little bit extra. All of the properties he has shown us have their good and bad points. This is going to be our final move and we want to get it right - hopefully before the winter."

Interviews by Ginetta Vedrickas

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail househunter@independent.co.uk

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