The Appleton poultry partnership

The Appleton Poultry Partnership

When we moved to Town End Farm, one of the things on our bucket list was to have chickens. We quickly realised that this was going to be impossible on the land that came with the house; the idea of chickens wandering around the courtyard was a romantic idea, but not practical for guests staying!

Step forward Meg and Simon in the village who had some already had some chickens but wanted to share the work/cost of their current small flock. They were keen to expand the flock and so the number of eggs laid. We leapt at the chance and became the official Appleton Poultry Partnership.

There are only a few rules! “Chicken duty” days are shared out equally. We take it in turns to do the village egg run to the 10+ households who buy organic eggs from us. We aren’t allowed to name the chickens, so saving any potential future heart break! Luckily we have Nigel the local chicken expert to call upon for chicken advice in the case of any emergencies or chicken husbandry issues.


We’ve expanded the flock several times over the years since setting up the partnership; sadly chickens live between 3 – 7 years (or less if there is a fox about) We’ve had one fox attack following which a fox proof electric fence went up which seems to have done the trick.

For the first flock expansion we went the purist (and cheapest) route and went to an auction in York to bid for fertilised eggs. Quite an experience, especially seeing Meg with a rush of blood to her head bidding against herself at one point! The eggs were incubated at Nigel’s; out of 32 eggs, 20 hatched. It was then we discovered the world of the chicken sexer – who knew?! It is a highly skilled job, and the best chicken sexers (95% success rate) can command a salary of £60,000. Mind you, to earn this it means sexing up to 1200 chicks AN HOUR! Luckily Nigel sexed ours, and the females came back to the village.

The next time we expanded the flock we decided to go the more expensive but certain route which was to buy birds from a local poultry breeder. Meg and Jackie went with the best of intentions e.g. good reliable layers year-round etc. We then were seduced by some of the prettier breeds and came back with a variety of lovely chickens. So, we may not have the most productive flock, but we do get a variety of different coloured eggs. The one thing that is consistent is that they all taste delicious.

We love the flock; at the moment it numbers 20 girls, and one elderly cockerel. We try not to have our favourites but have to admit that there is one at the moment who we have nick named the Appleton One. She has worked out that if she flies onto the hen house roof, she can then fly over the fence into the field. But as soon as she sees us arrive in the morning, she races up the field to us to be let in to get her food.

We are still far from experts, but we are enjoying learning. Our neighbour Lynne rolls her eyes when we talk about the chickens; apparently birds that lay eggs are called hens, and birds breed for meat are called chickens.

We are happy to take any guests down to collect the eggs with us; it’s lovely to see children especially feed the flock and collect the warm eggs to take back for breakfast. Subject to the time of year (production does drop down a lot in the winter) guests will get a dozen eggs in their welcome hamper. So you can experience how delicious they taste yourselves.


Favourite walk

We feel very luck to have such a choice of lovely walks straight from the door in Appleton. When we lived in Harrogate, we used to have to drive for over an hour to find the best walks; now that we live here, they are on our doorstep. During lockdown, many of us in the village have been sharing our favourite walks, so we have even more walking options for guests.

This circular Woodland walk is one of our favourites, and we will feature it along with others we recommend in our new look welcome pack for guests. So, we are just giving a flavour of it in this post to tempt you to try it if you stay with us.

It has a perfect combination of country lanes, fields with views and beautiful woodland. It’s about 2 miles and takes around an hour depending on how often you stop to admire the view. There is a climb up through the last section in Ridings Bank Wood; nothing too steep, but enough so that you feel you have a slight bit of aerobic exercise. This track has the wonderful name of The Thieves Highway.  

We love this walk as it is beautiful whatever the season. We’ve walked it during the winter when the views from the woods down to the river and Appleton Mill are revealed. In fact it’s a great Christmas Day walk. Just long enough to walk off Christmas dinner (or beforehand so you’ve had a walk to justify the dinner…) One November we bumped into guests on this walk all wearing Christmas jumpers; they had an annual meetup every year for a friends “fake” Christmas before the real event!

In springtime, as everything bursts into life the woodland floors are carpeted with wild daffodils and anemones. Nearby Farndale is renowned for its wild daffodils, but we think the daffodils in Hell Bank and Gill Wood are better (and there are no crowds)!

Then comes the pungent wild garlic, perfect for making pesto. We try to pick as many leaves as we can to stash a pesto supply in our fridge for the rest of the year; it never lasts long as we hope as it tastes just too delicious. There are certainly no vampires near the Long Barn when we’ve been eating it!

Then it’s the blue bells, and the woodlands become greener and greener as the tree canopies bring more shade. Late summer means the view from the fields turn purple as the heather comes out on the moor. Finally, Autumn when the russet colours arrive and the leaves begin to fall.

The best kept secret

The best kept secret

We think the West Barn is one of the best kept secrets of the Long Barn.

We are convinced that this grade 2 listed barn was one of the main reasons that Town End Farm was on the market for such a long time. As you can see from the photos, it was pretty much derelict full of rubbish with buddleia bushes growing out of the walls. The roof was partly off and it was full of roosting feral pigeons. In fact, it was one of the few parts of the site we didn’t fully explore as it wasn’t safe to walk into past the threshold.

After we’d moved in, and were waiting for planning permissions to be agreed, we’d look out over the farmyard towards the West Barn and wonder what we’d done. The hole in the roof got progressively larger; every time a pigeon took off, another roof tile would spiral down into the barn!

When the time came to begin the renovations, it was a really big day! Before the renovations could begin the floor had to be dug out; Ian and Mike filled 5 big skips with soil and rubble in just one day. Then once the new sub floor was poured which helped to support the walls the whole building was scaffolded, inside and out. The tiles were then taken off, the roof beams repaired or replaced, then the weight of the roof was supported by 4 huge beams. The front wall was dismantled and rebuilt, the tiles then went back on and then the new doors and windows fitted, finally the underfloor heating was put in and the oak floor was laid. Simple!

An epic job, but the finished barn is gorgeous. And unrecognisable from the derelict space we first looked round. It’s full of character from the original stone walls to the restored oak beams to the wicker chicken sculptures made by a local artist Angela.

The West Barn is designed so that it can be used for all sorts of activities. Most of the time, it’s set up for guests to use as their exclusive social space.  With table tennis, table football, giant bean bags and a projector for a Sony PS4, it’s the perfect space to spread out in. There is a cosy hideaway on the mezzanine floor with comfy John Lewis sofas and throws to snuggle down with a good book. We’ve also set it up for guests with tables for a family birthday buffet so that they could use every inch of space. Some extra family members stayed in the Moors Inn and were able to hide upstairs on the mezzanine to surprise the birthday girl!

The entire space is toasty and warm; the wooden floor has underfloor heating, powered by our biomass. So it’s perfect for yoga classes; we’ve arranged sessions just for guests with a local teacher, And we’ve even had a yoga retreat here, run by the wonderful Wellness Space.  Fingers crossed we will see them back here later this year for another retreat.



We’ve also hosted a number of corporate away days in the barn; we built in storage space so that the games can be cleared away and the whole space set up as a meeting room. With natural light flooding in, and the beautiful North York Moors outside, it’s a great space to getaway to for some strategic thinking!

For the future, we are also looking into what else could be hosted in the space; we have a number of artists locally who would be happy to come and run an exclusive course for guests from art classes to a chocolate making course.

We think the West Barn really is so much more than a games room!

Planning for the perfect stay

Ten tips for planning the perfect stay away with friends and family

We want your stay at the Long Barn to be perfect for everyone in your group. And we appreciate that if you are the person who’s doing the organising, it can be stressful. Many guests tend to book many months in advance and have put in lots of hours planning.

As the country continues to unlock, we know that many people are starting to plan for a trip away together. So we felt this was the right time for this blog. Rest assured that we’re here to keep you updated with what’s happening locally whenever you decide to visit us.

Having had many trips away with friends and family ourselves, as well as many lovely people stay with at the Long Barn, we have compiled our 10 tips which we hope will help you plan the perfect staycation.

  1. Great communication

Whether it’s setting up a What’s App group, email or phone calls, encourage everyone to be involved in deciding what your perfect stay will look like. It’ll help you start to work out what everyone fancies doing, any likes/dislikes in terms of food, and if nothing else, will get people excited about your time away together. The beauty of a big group is that you can all decide to do something together (like a big walk and pub lunch out) or split into smaller groups for different activities. Adrenaline junkies might want to go mountain biking in Dalby Forest, others may fancy exploring a market town like Helmsley combined with a naughty Yorkshire cream tea. Or a trip to the coast for a long beach walk followed up with fish and chips could be the order of the day.

Is there a sports event on that some of your group may want to watch? The Long Barn has Sky sports channels; let us know if there is a pay per view event that you want us to organise. Or you may be keen to have a movie night in, so organise who is going to bring the popcorn! The Long Barn has something for everyone, so that your whole group is happy.

  1. Money

Sounding people out ahead on budget can avoid any worries on the weekend. The beauty of staying at the Long Barn is that you can 100% self-cater in complete luxury or splurge on some special treats. 

You may decide to have a kitty that everyone contributes to, or to pay in turn and have a reckoning up at the end of your stay. Or you could use one of the many phone apps such as Splitwise, to keep track of who’s spent what. 

You might want a delicious meal at our village pub the Moors Inn, or a push the boat out meal at the local Star at Harome (a Michelin Star restaurant) Or a catered in option from a “home cooked” style meal you serve yourselves, to posh dinner party. The choice is yours and we are here to help you.

  1. Plan ahead for some things

With a big group, if there is something you all want to do, the sooner you book the better. From caterers to the Moors Inn, they can book up quickly so get your booking in as soon as you can. For some activities, booking ahead can mean a saving for your group. Again, we are here to help if you have any questions and can give you tips of any local promotions that we are aware of.

  1. Divide up responsibilities – share the load

If you are a group who goes away regularly, you probably have an idea of who naturally does what. Play to people’s strengths! If you have a natural “master of activities” who loves organising fun stuff for you all, let them loose in planning ahead. You may have keen walkers who love to research circular walks of interest and will plot out a full days expedition. One of your group may love history and will want to suggest which of the many historical sites close by you could visit.

If everyone is similarly laid back and want to spontaneously decide when you are here, you’ll find lots of ideas both in our Welcome Guide (sent out 8 weeks ahead of your arrival)

  1. Food – keep it simple

Getting this right is key for a successful gathering; a little time planning makes all the difference. Think through as a group what would work for you. Double check on food likes/dislikes – it’s amazing how people you’ve known for ages can reveal food intolerances or dislikes you have no idea of.

You may decide that one big supermarket shop for everything with the cost split between you all is the best way to go. All the big supermarkets deliver to the Long Barn; ideally organise it to arrive when you are here, so that you can agree any substitutions. However, don’t worry if you are delayed, as we are happy to receive it for you (just let us know) There will always be fresh milk, tea, coffee and cake here for you when you arrive; we know how important it is to have a cuppa at the end of a journey.

Another option is to organise everyone to bring something. If you are here for the weekend, it can split out pretty easily. For Friday night when you all arrive, you could all bring a dish each and mix and match, for example around a curry or Mexican chilli theme. Both can work well as they cater for meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans. To make it really easy, lay out as a buffet on the Long Barn kitchen island so that everyone can help themselves.

Breakfasts can be good to split if you are a group of couples, with a different couple responsible for bringing the food and cooking each morning. We even have a hostess trolley to keep all plates warm. And the deal is that everyone other than the cooks, clears up! With two dishwashers and masses of crockery, this is not a chore in the Long Barn.

Self-catering for a special meal, say for the Saturday evening or Sunday is another good opportunity to split up who does what. Different people can do nibbles, starter, main, pud and cheese course if you are going the whole hog. The kitchen is packed full of equipment, so those who want to do the full chef experience can! Although we’d recommend again, keeping it simple so that everyone including the cooks can enjoy every course and relax!

Another option is a bbq; the massive Webber gas bbq easily caters for large groups. Again, split out who does what and get the beers/pimms flowing! The huge oak table in the courtyard garden is perfect for everyone to spread out on.

The ultimate can be to get someone to cook for you. We have a great range of options from home cooking to a more special restaurant quality meal, so let us know what you are thinking of and we can link you into the right local caterer. We can also recommend some excellent local suppliers from brewers to butchers if you want to shop local; many of them will deliver to the Long Barn.

A meal at the Moors Inn can be a great option for your group as they are just a few minutes’ walk away.  They have a delicious menu, including good options for children. You can book their private dining room that seats fourteen comfortably, and the Moors team will really look after you (they are also dog friendly) Just remember to book early (they are very popular with villagers and locals) and they may ask you to pre order your meal choices to help them.  

  1. Drink – cater for everyone

Ordering in plenty of drink (alcoholic and non alcoholic) beforehand means that you can make sure everyone is catered for. Again, a bulk order can work, or everyone can bring something. And there are shops nearby if you need more supplies.

If going down the cocktail route is your thing, then we’d suggest some further thought. We can remember a weekend away with friends where each couple brought a bottle of spirits as their contribution to the sophisticated cocktails we had planned. We realised pretty quickly that none of them were complimentary, and so had to go out and search out more supplies! So, again keep it simple – a couple of different gins, with different tonics or a cocktail everyone likes with not too many ingredients (expresso martini anyone?) is ideal. You’ll be pleased to know that plenty of ice, cocktail shakers and glasses come as standard in the Long Barn.

You’ll find tea, coffee, sugar and coffee beans in the Long Barn, along with plenty of mugs and cups, so you don’t have to keep washing up. And give the Sage Bean to Cup machine a go – it’s easy to use and makes delicious coffee. There is a video link on the tablet in the dining room that gives a practical demo. It’s the perfect opportunity to perfect your latte art!

  1. Music – something for everyone

You may just want to drink in the peace and quiet of the countryside. Or you may want the right music to help create the perfect atmosphere.

Getting people to create their own play lists ahead  can be a great way of remembering classics that everyone can enjoy. The Long Barn has Spotify on a Sonos sound system in kitchen, dining and living rooms so you can play all your favourites throughout the barn. And there are plenty of Spotify playlists for all moods if you don’t fancy creating your own.

After dinner, a more spontaneous way can be hand the Samsung tablet round the table to each person in turn, to get them to choose a favourite artist or track to play. It’s amazing the discussions and memories this will prompt!

And if you are of a more extrovert nature, use the PS4 karaoke game in the living room, turning your phones into microphones. The barn walls are thick, and no one can hear you!

  1. Organised fun

This can strike terror into some people and whip others into a frenzy of excitement. So plan ahead to what you think people might like, but also judge on the day. Whether it’s a variation of charades, a quiz which has been organised beforehand or something more complex, after a convivial meal, the right entertainment can really make the evening.

Check out the games box in the Long Barn where you’ll find some games like Pictionary, packs of cards etc (look out for the LED party light!) Plus the West Barn is perfect for a table tennis or table football tournament.

9. What to do?

With a larger group, deciding what to do can be a nightmare. Deciding some options before you come can take some of the pressure off, but sometimes it’s great to just go with the flow. You’ve come away to see each other and relax; you may decide that lazing in the barn and garden is the perfect way to spend your time. The beauty of the Long Barn is there is space to socialise in, as well as space to be apart in. So if people want to take themselves away to read a book or relax on their own, there is space to do this.

If you decide you want to strike out, we’ll makes sure you have all the local information you need including more tailored options. You’ll find some ideas in the Welcome Pack, but also look out for our “Perfect Day” suggestions where we’ve used our local knowledge to suggest how to best explore the area. From circular walks from the door, to foodie trips out to exploring further afield, there’s something for everyone whatever the weather and your mood. Please pick our brains if there is something specific you fancy doing and we’ll do our best to help. We’ll also let you know of any local events which take place during your stay which might interest you.

Follow the Long Barn on social media (links on our web site) and you’ll get a flavour of village life in Appleton. 

  1. Making Memories

In this world of smart phones and social media, taking photos has never been easier. But sometimes sharing them within your group is the one thing missed. Setting up a photo sharing group (Apple Cloud, Flickr etc) means that everyone in your group can just upload their photos for everyone to see. Make sure you get some of the whole group – we are happy to help if you want a photo of everyone before you disappear on your way home!

Hopefully you’ve found these top tips useful, but please add any of your own in the comments section of this blog!

Here’s to your perfect staycation at the Long Barn. 

Ian and Jackie x



A Special Celebration

We want your stay with us to be just perfect, and that includes what you eat!

Many guests come to the Long Barn to celebrate a special occasion from an annual reunion with friends to a big birthday. We love cooking and one of our personal hates is going away and finding the kitchen lacking, from blunt knives to insufficient crockery. So for those of you wanting to self-cater, we can confidently say you will find everything you need and more in the Long Barn.

However, a number of guests decide to take the pressure off completely and leave it to a professional. We’re here to recommend to you the local options and help you organise the perfect meal. Today, we’d like to showcase the talents of Dan Graham, who set up his own business “At the Dinner Party” in 2017 with the aim of bringing the experience of a restaurant to you.


Dan is originally from a small market town in Northumberland and moved to North Yorkshire with his wife in 2013, having spent 5 years living and working in central London.

In 2017 following a successful 3-year career as head chef at the Talbot hotel in Malton, North Yorkshire, Dan decided to embark on a new venture and set up ‘At the Dinner Party’ by Dan Graham.

Throughout Dan’s career as a professional chef he has had the opportunity to work in some of the best restaurants in the world, having worked in France, Greece and a number of locations in the UK, Dan’s career has seen him cook for executive bankers in the city of London, celebrities in private villas in the French alps, royalty, and his biggest highlight was working at Michel Roux Jnr’s restaurant in Mayfair London, Le Gavroche, where he feels he was transformed from a good chef to a great chef under the watchful eye of the Roux family.

Some of Dan’s other career highlights include being a chef tutor at the fantastic York Cookery School, he’s also a judge for the deliciouslyorkshire taste awards, and a regular on the food festival circuit having the chance to demo his food for the public.

In 2017 Dan reached the semi-final of the National Chef of the Year competition fighting off competition for some of the UK’s best chefs. In 2018 & 2019 Dan was a finalist in the Kikkoman Masters held at the restaurant show in London in front of a live audience.

Dan’s most memorable highlight was in 2009 when he reached the final 3 of the BBC’s MasterChef the professionals, where he finished runner up in a life changing experience which opened many doors for him.

Dan’s biography is impressive, and his food is completely delicious; we love that he is passionate about using the wonderful local produce. We can highly recommend Dan; he cooked a wonderful celebratory meal for us and some friends earlier this year. Every single course was faultless.

We asked Dan a few questions for this blog:

What made you decide to become a chef? Like many chef’s backgrounds I never really excelled at school, I was more into sports than learning. So when the dreaded result confirmed what I already knew would be poor results, I had to make a choice and due to my grandma I had a love of baking and being in the kitchen, so I chose to go to catering college in Carlisle, and to my surprize I went from struggling at school to being a top student winner awards and prizes for my work. I have never really looked back since then. I suppose when you find something your passionate about its more like a hobby and less like hard work. But do not be fooled being a chef is hard work.

What was competing in Master Chef really like? MasterChef started off extremely intense and scary, in the very early stages you don’t even meet your fellow competitors, you were taken into a green room with a producer who briefed you on how thing would work, then at some point perhaps a few hours later you were called in to the kitchen, never seen it before, you walk in and Gregg and Monica are stood at a table full of ingredient then they say we want you to do this, you have 15 mins go for it. Your heads not even had a chance to stop gazing around the studio. Although the competition got harder the further, I went it also became easier to handle, you get use to the surroundings and cameras, and after the semi-final I actually really started to enjoy myself. It was a brilliant experience one which I am happy I did.

What would be your dessert island meal? Medium rare ribeye steak, chips and peppercorn sauce.

What do you always have in your fridge/larder? Butter and Garlic, the only two things you need to make something taste amazing.

Do you have a tip for cooking a dinner party for a large group? The 5 P’s (perfect preparation prevents poor) actually the real chef version is about 6 P’s but contains some bad language. Its all about choosing the right menu, go for a chilled dessert that can be made in advance like a panna cotta or a cheesecake. Similar for starter, go for a soup or a salad. Then for a main course try a slow cooked dish. Its choices like this that mean you can do almost 70% of all the work before any of your guest have arrived meaning you can then spend more time hosting than cooking.

Which chefs inspire you? I think all chefs are inspiring in a way, it’s not an easy job, nor is it glamorous, you miss out on family time and nights out with your mates and generally when others are sat enjoying the company of loved one us chefs are hard at work. With regards to famous chefs who inspire me I have to say Michel Roux Jnr, having worked for him at his 2 Michelin star restaurant in London I know what a fantastic person he is and the time and effort he puts in to train young chefs.

Favourite restaurant or pub? My favourite restaurant in the area is The Star Inn at Harome, my favourite pub is The Fairfax Arms in Gilling for its outside seating area, its stunning on a summer’s day.

Which Yorkshire seasonal produce do you most look forward to? Asparagus, Berries, New season Lamb and the game meats are fantastic.

What would your perfect day in North Yorkshire look like? This is easy for me, a walk and a picnic in Dalby forest with my wife and my daughter. Second to that would be a trip to Whitby for fish and chips.

What can guests expect from a dinner party catered by you? I pride myself on providing a close personal service which is second to none. I provide tailormade menus that you can have as much input in as you want to make your event that little bit more personal. The service is relaxed and non-intrusive and of course, my food is delicious.

If a full-on chef dinner party experience is not something you fancy Dan can also rustle up an afternoon tea or buffet.

During the countdown to your stay at the Long Barn, we’ll be in touch to check what your plans are and if we can help. We appreciate that organising a large group can be stressful, and we are here to help you every step of the way. We’re keen to support local producers and businesses as much as we can; we’re very lucky to have some of the best in Yorkshire close by. So our “little black book” of contacts and suppliers is open to you, to ensure you have the perfect stay at the Long Barn.