By Kate Maitland

Lindores – Stay Ride Relax, is aspiring to be Scotland’s top relaxing rural retreat and it’s all centred from a relaxed family-run farm, Braeside of Lindores, outside Newburgh, in Fife.

Braeside remains the backbone of the business, but has diversified from an arable and stock farm to offer equestrian training facilities, luxury accommodation, driven shoot days and a holiday destination that firmly puts Fife on the map for good quality sporting trips in beautiful countryside.

The third generation of the Black family have been busy expanding the farm enterprises in the last few years and they have only achieved that by working as a tight family team. Richard and Anna work in close partnership with Richard’s parents, Richard and Frances.

In 2013, Frances was ready to retire from Lindores Cross Country, having built up a loyal customer base since 1989, and although Anna was still working in Edinburgh, she started management of it.

The cross-country course is now at a British Eventing standard, spread over 85 acres and offering 125 fences suitable for kids and adults of all abilities.

Large investment in the facilities has broadened the equestrian proposition to provide camps and horse holidays for up to four days and 30 horses at a time. Riders travel from Orkney, the Borders and Isle of Mull to train and camp.

In addition to the 30 stables there are two show jumping paddocks, a sand school, campsite, hook ups, a Bothy with kitchen and living area and parking. Lindores Cross Country was nominated as Equestrian Business of the Year in 2017 and listed as Number 1 for horseback holidays worldwide by an equestrian magazine.

When the equestrian business closes for the season, the farm turns its focus to commercial shoot days. The shooting is run by head game keeper, Jamie Horne and over the last four years both international and domestic tourists have visited for driven partridge, pheasant and duck. The venue is growing in popularity.

Farming remains the heart of the business, comprising of more than 650 acres and 200 acres contract farmed. All barley is grown for the Scottish whisky industry.

The Blacks run a herd of 50 Simmental cross suckler cattle, of which young-stock are sold as store, in conjunction with 550 breeding ewes. Lambs are sold finished having been reared on the same fields that are used for the shoot days run over the winter and the equestrian training that operates from March to October.

Prior to returning to the farm, Richard attended SAC Aberdeen studying agriculture followed by time spent travelling the world gaining transferable knowledge in many spheres.

Anna, a farmer’s daughter from Backboath Farm, in Angus, graduated from business studies at Edinburgh University and again took time to travel.

Post travelling, while Richard farmed, Anna spent a decade working in the banking industry in both commercial and marketing positions.

Anna and Richard have both completed the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme and more recently Anna returned from the Scottish Enterprise International Rural Leadership trip to Memphis, in November – an opportunity that further broadened rural managers knowledge, confidence and network but to an international level.

So why diversify in the first place? The Black partnership wanted to provide sustainability and protection for the family from any economic or political uncertainty.

So, in 2012, the team reviewed the farm assets, market movements and opportunities and developed their first luxury holiday accommodation, Lindores Lodge, partially funded by SRDP.

Part of the beauty of Lindores is Richard’s passion for biodiversity which has been helped along by the farms involvement in both the Rural Stewardship Scheme and the AECS scheme. The farm has beautiful hedgerows linking woodland and is home to a wealth of birdlife.

It could have been the stunning countryside that attracted Red Bull to film globally recognised mountain biker, Danny MacAskills ‘Wee Day Out’ YouTube film.

It was at Lindores that a stunt never seen before with a mountain biker riding a hay bale down a grass field was conducted over three long days of filming. The stunt has since been viewed by more than 11m people on YouTube.

Danny MacAskill has been back to Lindores to undertake further filming, but the next film is him racing a horse. This latest enterprising move hoped to capture the imagination of the growing biking market and further broaden the Lindores appeal.

In 2017, the momentum and activity at Lindores continued with the introduction of two more architecturally designed holiday houses. One of which was supported by The European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) through the Fife LEADER programme.  The properties have been built to meet the varied client base Lindores has started to attract. Guests with disabilities are catered and considered for, families, friends, couples, dogs and horses are all welcomed.

Also in 2017, with the timely introduction of Lindores Abbey Distillery next door, Richard and Anna are collaborating closely with owners, Helen and Drew MacKenzie Smith, to make sure the honeymooners and wedding party guests have first class luxury accommodation at their doorstep.

Weddings have been the backbone of on site photographer and family member, Suzanne Black, who also plays a key part in the success of Lindores.

Suzanne photographs the scenes onsite and her latest photographs can be viewed on the two websites Suzanne and Anna have built for the farm enterprises in 2017.

Lindores is a hive of activity but it is conducted with strong family and agricultural values at its core. The growth is driven from customers and the team’s ability to listen and make things happen.

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