Burghley Horse Trials kicks off today, and it’s not just eventing’s top names that will be swinging into action. The avenues of tradestands will be packed with punters sussing out the arts, crafts, fashion and tack.
The H&H team have pulled together their top tips of where to shop, eat and watch the action. So whether you’re allergic to shopping and need a plan of action before you tackle the stands, or are just looking for some inspiration for your annual retail therapy, take note of our Burghley old-timers’ suggestions.
And in case you and your credit card get carried away there are 2 facilities where you can leave your shopping before venturing onto the cross-country course. They are located behind the east grandstand (adjacent to the members’ enclosure) and at the information point (near the rural crafts pavilion).
Lucy Higginson, H&H editor
There is someone who does fantastic sparkly cupcakes in the food village, which have saved the day a few times as my daughter has her birthday around Burghley. And in the Country Living tent I always check out the Em and Lu children’s Pjs and nighties which are very cute indeed.
They do big screens very well at Burghley — you can see live action and screens obviously by Discovery Valley and The Trout Hatcheries, which is handy when you are with kids whose legs tire! But my favourite fence is usually the Leaf Pit. Where else do you see a drop like that?
Pippa Roome, H&H eventing editor
I love The Italian Knitwear Company which does machine washable V-neck jumpers — I buy at least 2 every year.
Jon Stroud, H&H photographer
Starting with the food and drink side of things, I must recommend the Gwatkins Cider stand — not least for the fact that it’s made just a mile or so from where I live in Herefordshire. It’s also a favourite of James May and Oz Clarke. Try a “Silly Ewe” or a “No Bull” — it’s fantastic!
Another foodie favourite that I visit every year is Rose Cottage Pies. The clue for their premiere product is in the title however the real gem in their crown as far as I’m concerned are the huge bags of fresh pork scratchings that they sell for a bargain price. They keep us going in the press office and I always have multiple requests to take a few bags home.
When it comes to watching the action on cross-country I have 2 particular favourite places to hang out.
At the top of the course is the HSBC Maltings Branch (16/17) which is worth the walk to see the combinations jumping big and in full gallop, when they head off to tackle the Rolex Combination and the Dairy Farm.
My real favourite is watching the Aniversary Splash (27) but not from close by. Head to the far western end of the lake towards the Oxer (11) and see the riders leap into the water with the wonderful backdrop of The Lion Bridge with Burghley House in the distance.
Jaki Bell, H&H deputy editor
Bergeres & Chairs: I’m obsessed by bergere furniture and wander longingly around this stand. Not only do they have lovely chairs and sofa, but they also have some interesting bits and pieces for the home.
Heyland and Whittle: this is where I stock up on bath and body lotions — essential for those longs soaks after spending hours walking the cross-country course.
The Linen Press: bedlinen, towels and classic clothing. It usually has a great bargain rail, too.
Mark’s Dovecotes: if anyone out there wants to buy me a significant present — I’m lusting after a dovecote and these are the best.
Rutland Bookshop: I can’t resist spending half an hour browsing here.
The Shirt Company: I always have to buy a great new white shirt in its quality cottons.
Carol Phillips, H&H website editor
Walk up winners avenue and admire the plaques along the way. Then when you reach the top, marvel at the bravery needed from horse and rider to take on the formidable Cottesmore Leap. No matter how many times you see it, it never looks any more jumpable!
If you are on a budget, wait until lunch time on Sunday before hitting the shops and many stands will have special end of show offers or be open to a bit of bartering to clear the last of their stock. The danger is that some things may have sold out though.
Emma Sewell, H&H correspondent
The hunting season is nearly upon us, so make sure you pay The Hunting Stock Market a visit. Whether you need a new stock, pin, breeches or hunting coat, they will have the answer.
Don’t forget to visit the H&H stand (B31) where you can enjoy great subscription savings — and have your picture taken as a front cover of the magazine!
Take a look at this year’s Burghley preview video