A family business offering unique equine holidays, weddings and cabin experiences is celebrating an impressive anniversary this year. 

Little Lodge Farm lies on a sprawling 150-acre parcel of land in the heart of Thetford Forest at Santon Downham.

The business specialises in “bring your horse on holiday” stays, offering four log cabins as well as camping and caravanning pitches.

A photograph of the farm in the 80sA photograph of the farm in the 1980s (Image: Little Lodge Farm)

Roy, 86, and Sally Hibbs, 84, bought the farm 40 years ago this August and over the years, with the help of their son and his wife, have morphed it into a hugely successful, multi-diverse site.

Coming from a pig farming family on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, Roy saw that farming was becoming a difficult way to make a living. 

When Little Lodge Farm became available for sale in 1984, he stood up on one of the top fields, looked down at the view and fell in love. 

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The family started out by offering bed & breakfast before progressing to caravan pitchesThe family started out by offering bed and breakfast before progressing to caravan pitches (Image: Little Lodge Farm)

The place was derelict, covered in bailing twine and had rats, but Roy could see its potential and set about transforming the land. 

Roy and Sally started by offering a couple of liveries and a bed and breakfast in the farmhouse, before progressing on to a little touring caravan out the front. 

Twenty years ago, their son Jeff, 54, took over the farm with his wife Hannah, 46. 

The Hibbs family stood in front of one of their wooden lodgesThe Hibbs family stood in front of one of their wooden lodges (Image: Sonya Duncan)

The pair first met when Hannah's parents took her on holiday to the farm.

They eventually became a couple and recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary at their wedding venue in 2022 with more than 150 guests, their daughter Savannah and their horse.

Over the years the couple have kept the focus on horses.

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The interior of one of the wooden lodgesThe interior of one of the wooden lodges (Image: Sonya Duncan) With thousands of acres of riding available in the nearby forest, as well as the attraction of the River Ouse running through the farm, and the light sandy soil perfect for all-weather riding, the farm has become a leading destination for horse lovers. 

The family has also just finished building a show-jumping arena.

In the school holidays and on weekends, an on-site photographer is on hand to capture people enjoying their holiday with their horses. 

The Farriers horsebox bar at the campsiteThe Farriers horsebox bar at the campsite (Image: Little Lodge Farm) "There aren't many places around these days that have been there this long and are still run as a family," Hannah said. 

"We all live together and run it together - it’s a real success story and something to celebrate. 

"And that’s down to 40 years of hard graft."

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The farm hosts tipi weddingsThe farm hosts tipi weddings (Image: Farm Lodge Weddings) The farm has also been the official camping site for Thetford Forest Live at High Lodge for the last 18 years, with the family running a shuttle service to and from the riverfronted site which features an on-site bar and barbeque called Farriers Refreshments.

They also created a forest wedding venue called Forest Lodge Weddings where they offer tipi weddings in the woods and have hosted lots of horse-inspired weddings. 

Now in their 80s, Sally and Roy still keep a hand in the business, Sally is the resident gardener and helps with paperwork and Roy does a lot of tractor and maintenance work on the land. 

The river is popular among riders and their horsesThe river is popular among riders and their horses (Image: Little Lodge Farm) Working with Natural England, half of the farmland is set aside as a successful conservation area, in which a large number of skylarks and other ground-nesting birds can regularly be seen in the wildflower fields they care for. 

"We love running the farm," Hannah added. "You never know from one day to the next who you're going to meet and what's going to happen.

"We’ve had YouTubers stay here recently, Luisa Zissman came for her birthday with her horses and one of The Sidemen came with his girlfriend.​

"It's just a massive variety of people and the horses bring everyone together."​