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Newsletter Spring 2016

2016 so far in Yorkshire Dales

It has been an exciting start to the year in the Dales and at High Trenhouse. We had a very mild winter with unusually short spells of snow and ice but an awful lot of rain. Storm Desmond caused a waterfall to cascade over Malham Cove for the first time in centuries.

However the ravages of winter are forgotten as the daffodils bloom and the curlews call, reminding us that spring is here again.

40th Anniversary of High Trenhouse

Newsletter Spring 2016

2016 marks the anniversary of many notable people and events;
1066 – Battle of Hastings 950 yrs ago;
1516 – Royal Mail founded 500 yrs ago;
1616 – Shakespeare died 400 yrs ago;
1666 – Great fire of London 350 yrs ago;
1916 – Battle of the Somme 100 yrs ago;

Charlotte Bronte and Beatrix Potter were born 200 and 150 years ago respectively and this is, of course, our Queen’s 90th birthday.

We have our very own anniversary celebrating 40 years at High Trenhouse. So much has changed since John Varney bought High Trenhouse at auction in 1976. Over the years between, countless people have contributed to its gradual evolution into the remarkable residential centre it is today.

High Trenhouse time line 1976 – 2016 →

Tour de Yorkshire

29 April to 1 May 2016 in Settle

Book High Trenhouse for your group & enjoy a place of your own with 21 bedrooms, private bar and dining. High Trenhouse is just a 10 minute drive from Settle – ideally placed to watch the finish of the 1st stage and the start of the 2nd stage. With easy access links to the Settle Loop, we are the perfect choice! This is a wonderful location from which to explore the Yorkshire Dales by car, bike or foot. Book Now! Call 01729 830322 or email

You can also take in the Three Peaks Race or join Ride to Stride

Sizzling Summer Bonanza!

10% discount for corporate bookings throughout August 2016
Don’t miss out – Book Now!

Free to Regular Users

Regular users are those who have come over many years or who book 3 or more events in a year. By way of thanks we offer free day-use of meeting facilities at any time. You only need pay for meals and refreshments. (Can be booked up to three weeks in advance, subject to availability)

No budget for Management Development?

It is mind-blowing that, in 2016, Management Development seems to get low priority in some corporate budgets. Why is this? Surely, in a constantly changing world, investment in future capability is of paramount importance. Individual and collective capability, leadership and teamwork have never mattered more.

Apart from the fact that good Management Development aids staff recruitment and retention, how much of corporate busyness is actually effective? And would it not be more effective if people spent a little time to ensure that everyone was in touch and in tune; that everyone was clear about where they were headed and why? The cost of taking time to think is nothing compared to the cost of not doing so!

Can your organisation really afford not to invest? Call us or check out our website to see how we can help you improve your organisation’s future.

Selecting a venue

Newsletter Spring 2016As providers it is apparent to us that many people pay scant attention to choosing their venues. Often they leave it all to chance or they allow themselves to be pushed into unsuitable hotels, just because they are cheap. This may not always matter but there are many occasions when having the right venue can make all the difference to the quality of your event. Given that total cost includes executive time, travel time and opportunity costs, the cost benefit of using the most appropriate venue is beyond dispute.

Here we set out a flow chart of the decision process to help you ensure you have the right venue for your event. Comments are welcome.

Know Your Self

A Revitalising Retreat

Facilitated by John Varney and Dr Jan Goss on 22 – 24 July 2016

Not only Know Your Self but also Love Your Self. Recharge your batteries with Mindful Practice. Join us for a retreat in the regenerative ambience of High Trenhouse, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Enjoy a balance of guided reflection and Dialogue, combined with the freedom to roam in the wild. We all lead busy lives; we give out at work, we give out at home and we give out between. If you can take only a few hours in the whole year to look after your own soul, let these be them. Three days that can change your world. Fee includes comfortable accommodation, good food, guided interaction and outdoor excursions. Contact John Varney for further information or call 01729 830322.

NEW! – Weekends at High Trenhouse

Newsletter Spring 2016Our facilities are normally for the exclusive use of groups. When no group is booked, you can enjoy friendly bed and breakfast.

Accommodation can be booked up to 3 weeks in advance, subject to availability.

Prices are per room (inc VAT) for minimum two night stay including breakfast.

  • Single en-suite – Bed & Breakfast – £75 per night

  • Double or Twin en-suite – Bed & Breakfast – £98 per night

Quote of the month

“Great venue for reflection and team building”
Nikki Escreet – Northern Rail

Green the landscape and stop the floods

On Malham Moor, at the very source of the river Aire, we are comfortably above flood level and our sympathies go out to all the people downstream who are suffering the effects of climate change. It has always been obvious to us that draining the uplands carries water to downstream cities all the faster. The current widespread floods will have alerted many to the need for more trees on the uplands; they absorb water and their roots hold the soil. Would it not make sense to use a bit of Quantitative Easing to employ young people to plant millions of trees that would save the cities and create a new industry. Do politicians have any foresight?

At High Trenhouse people have sponsored tree planting over the years to reduce their carbon footprint and we are delighted to be described as ‘the place in the wood’. Happily we have no more room, so we recommend now that you sponsor trees through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Sponsoring a tree makes an ideal gift or fitting memento!

Reinventing Organisations

Reinventing OrganisationsLaloux spells out a whole system for understanding the evolution of organisations and describes actual case studies of those he sees as being at the leading edge. Although rather long the book has a wealth of ideas and information of interest to everyone in management today. This is an important book. Read full review.

High Trenhouse Festive Offer

High Trenhouse Festive Offer

As we approach the winter (the leaves have fallen and first snow came to High Trenhouse in late November) our minds begin to think of the solstice and the promise of a new year’s sun and warmth. The depths of winter are a time when all of nature engages in renewal and when we are most aware that we too are part of nature! It is a time to stir up our spirit and envision a new season of opportunity and growth.

At High Trenhouse we are encouraging this regeneration with several attractive offers:

  1. Enjoy our themed networking event on 16 December; a chance for a relaxed visit (bring a colleague or a client) and a festive lunch as well as a short dialogue on the theme of the Spirit of Leadership – only £20+VAT to reserve each place (December and January)

  2. Enjoy exclusive day-use of High Trenhouse for your group free of charge – you only pay for refreshments at £35+VAT per person and have the option of adding a festive dinner at £35+VAT and an overnight Bed and Breakfast at £50+VAT. (December and January)

  3. Let us help you get the most from your off-site retreat. If you book for 36 hours you can have an additional dinner bed and breakfast at half price (December to end February)

We would love to share with you the joys of winter in the wilds: cosy spaces, wood-burning stoves, fantastic food, great walks and time to think. See full details of these offers and make sure you don’t miss the benefit of your winter celebration.

Find out more and get in contact with us.

Benefits of High Trenhouse Podcast

On Thursday 24 September 2015, our proprietor, John Varney was interviewed about the benefits of High Trenhouse as a venue, on BCB Radio by presenters, Alan Keeling and Tina Watkin. For all who missed it, fear not! You can listen again on If you are short of time, John’s interview starts 7.25 minutes into the show.

High Trenhouse Newsletter Summer 2015

High Trenhouse Newsletter Summer 2015
© Jim Varney

Round and about High Trenhouse

Chris, the gardener, has been busy weeding and pruning and the grounds are looking great. Lots of baby rabbits are keen to eat the lupins. Our moorhens have hatched their second brood.

It is lovely to have enjoyed Spanish temperatures recently, sitting out on long summer evenings when the valleys have already sunk into darkness. The Yorkshire Dales feels like heaven on earth. Lush green valleys and the wild and lonely hills enable folk from the cities to refresh their minds, rejuvenate their bodies and rejoice in the spirit of adventure. Paradise!

Testimonial of the month

"Everything was superb! The venue, the setting, the food, the welcome, the tools, the hexagons, the LVT methodology…"
Will Allen – Head of Jisc North

Summer Special Offer

For events held between now and 1 September you have a choice of add-ons worth up to £350!

  1. Celebratory Meal, or
  2. An outdoor activity, or
  3. Pre-event dinner

It’s not too late to book! Call Caroline on 01729 830322

High Trenhouse Newsletter Summer 2015

Personal Development

There are several opportunities each year for individuals to join personal developmental programmes for which High Trenhouse is ideal. Recess College runs ten-day programmes for either men or for women. Alternatively Jeff Jackson has a five-day Open Personal Mastery Programme coming up 21-25 September 2015.

"To live successfully requires a shift of perception that comes when you truly meet yourself. For that you need the right guide and the right circumstances. Jeff’s programme is heartily recommended"
John Varney, Centre for Management Creativity


Decision makers are welcome to join us at High Trenhouse in September. A short workshop, "Making the Most of Off-site Residential Events", will be followed by a tour of the facilities. Enjoy a lovely lunch and network with colleagues. We will be happy to discuss your future needs for off-site events. Speak to Caroline to reserve places – 01729 830322

High Trenhouse Partners

We are inviting Corporates, facilitators and group leaders who bring repeat business to High Trenhouse to become "Partners".

Benefits – The main benefit of this special relationship is to make High Trenhouse effectively a place of your own – a place that works with you and for you- in effect, your own venue without the hassle of running it.

  • Use High Trenhouse free of charge for your own internal meetings or daytime meetings with clients (pay only for meals and refreshments)
  • Entertain prospective clients, show them the facilities and discuss details of your programme (pay only for meals and refreshments)
  • Feature your open events on our website
  • Collaborate with High Trenhouse to market your events successfully.
  • Access to free advice.
  • Make the most of LVT methodology
  • Attend Annual networking events to learn from other partners.

Let us know if you are interested.

Claim the date!

Getting just the right location for your event can make all the difference to its success, especially when you want exclusive use.

Establish the venue’s availability before you check participants’ diaries, rather than setting a date and hoping you can secure your chosen venue.

At High Trenhouse we can hold availability while you negotiate with participants. We even negotiate with other users, adjusting dates to try to meet everyone’s needs. Check with us early to avoid disappointment.

Up-coming open events at High Trenhouse.

More details on our website

  • 17-19 July Quilting Antics
  • 13-17 August Walking Women (£40 discount if you quote code malham40)
  • 18-21 August Landscape Painting with Carole Baker
  • 28-30 August Quilting Antics
  • 21-25 September Personal Mastery with Jeff Jackson
  • 10-12 October Yoga with Marie
  • 9-11 March 2016 Museums & Resilient Leadership Programme
  • 25-29 March 2016 Walking Women
  • 10-14 June 2016 Photography Workshop with Nick Jenkins – Freespirit Images

High Trenhouse Newsletter Summer 2015Upstanding freestander

High Trenhouse has always pioneered tools for visual thinking and we look forward to delivery of a ThinkingWall® Freestander, a recent innovation from Logovisual. This mobile equivalent of the Thinking Wall whiteboard in our conference room has proven an immediate hit with the BBC, Cisco and Sony.

Contact us if you would like individual or company LVT training (in association with Logovisual Ltd.)

Local news

High Trenhouse Newsletter Summer 2015Church roof

We have helped raise funds to re-roof the nave of St Michael’s church in Kirkby Malham. Just as nearly all the funds fell into place, thieves stole the lead off the south aisle and more funds have to be found. With a total cost over £200,000 the fund-raising continues.

Known as "the Cathedral of the Dales" the church is well worth a visit.

New farm shop in Skipton

We are glad to see the former Nicholas Smith garage on the outskirts of Skipton is at last re-incarnated as Keelham Farm Shop ( – a tempting feature on the journey to or from the Dales. Don’t overlook our local farm shop in Airton (, famous for its Yorkshire Chorizo and its fantastic tearoom with homemade cakes.

When someone meets themself

When someone meets themselfI used to think that it was great when people staying at High Trenhouse took the opportunity to go out and encounter raw nature. Then I discovered that what sometimes happened was not that they encountered nature, so much as that nature brought them into contact with themselves.

We are embedded in the fabric of society and these days society sees itself as other than nature. Our history and culture and language, our upbringing and everything about our modern lifestyle alienate us from our relationship with life on earth. It is quite something to re-discover our one-ness with nature.

“High Trenhouse offers perfect facilities for a retreat.  Every human need is effortlessly catered for so real reflection can occur.”

Lauren Deere – Birmingham Museums Trust
Participant on the Museums and Resilient Leadership programme

So when we pause in our onward rush, when we allow ourselves to slow down, when circumstances still our minds and open our perceptions, then something different can happen. It is not something we can do. It is something we can allow or invite.

When the time and circumstances permit, a simple walk outdoors might be enough. Some clients have their participants spend time on the hillside. As the artificiality of daily activity falls away, as inner turmoil stills, as perceptions open up, you eventually get to meet yourself.

You are beautiful.
You are awesome.
There is no greater gift than this.

Nature smiles on us

Nature smiles on us if only we can be in tune. After all we are naturally part of nature. These days we, as a society, have alienated ourselves, largely because of our fragmentary way of thinking, that causes us to see everything as separate from everything else, when it might otherwise be seen that everything is connected with everything. Our way of knowing (our epistemology) shapes the world we live in.

When we allow our true self to surface and to encounter whatever is before us, only then might we encounter a different world and hence a different self. It happens more than we recognise or acknowledge. Those unguarded moments when we encounter the beauty of nature or the joy of living. Moments when we really see a flower or an insect or some play of nature with light in the mist or the drowning of puddles in a rainstorm or we wonder at the stars on a clear night.

For myself, I recall discovering that it was always worth the effort to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag and brave the elements in the hills, because nature would surprise me. In my unguarded moments she would present an unexpected vista or bring before me a deer or share some other gift. That discovery was itself a gift, which has stood me in good stead ever since. It is always worth making an effort to meet nature.

I would go further and say that without direct contact with the physical world “out there”, as unspoiled and natural as we can find, we are ourselves diminished.

As we experience a new springtime, make the opportunity to meet yourself in nature. A few moments is all it takes, in the right place, in the right state.

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

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YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!
YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

We will be delighted if you and a colleague will join us at High Trenhouse on Friday, 17 APRIL 2015 from 10am to 2pm or thereabouts.

In a short workshop we will explore how to get maximum benefit from your off-site retreats. Then we can enjoy lunch together in the High Trenhouse tradition of excellent hospitality.

We invite you to tour the facilities of High Trenhouse, talk to us about the venue, facilitation and other services, network with professional colleagues and enjoy the relaxing beauty of Malham Moor.

RSVP to reserve places (

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!


YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

Our new website is live! – with an updated format and complete with a video which we hope captures something of the special quality of the place.

Do take a look and let us know what you think.

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

Special Offer – Hurry

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

For weekday commercial bookings during the two weeks of Easter (30 March to 10 April) we offer a choice of:

  • a half-day guided group walk to explore outstanding local sights
  • OR celebratory meal with champagne and canapés
  • OR dinner free of charge the night before your event (minimum six people)

To confirm your eligibility or for further information please phone or email Caroline (

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

Improving accommodation

To cope with larger groups we are in the process of upgrading various aspects of the premises. Swapping space between offices and owners’ accommodation has freed up space for two new bedrooms to replace the smallest rooms. Additional swish bathrooms will make all bedrooms en-suite by the summer, so everyone will enjoy a top quality experience.

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

25 years of Directing Change

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

The Directing Change group is our longest serving client and one to whom we are bound by mutual appreciation. The group has brought leaders of top museums and galleries to High Trenhouse for the last 17 years. On this, their latest visit, they are celebrating the group’s 25th year of existence. They presented us with a copy of a book that records their history of learning achievement. The whole event was suitably commemorated with a ‘birthday’ cake and champagne toast.

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!   YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!   YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!   YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

YES, there is such a thing as a free lunch!

Tel: +44 (0)1729 830322
High Trenhouse, Malham Moor, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9PR, UK     Email: click here


A Sense of Place

A recent discussion on LinkedIn set me thinking about why place and space matter so much when you want to make a difference; to run a conference, a workshop or even a meeting. It is easy to assume that whatever space is provided will be good enough. That is to miss the huge difference that is made by having things just right for your purpose. Many people seem to be blind to this obvious truth.

A Sense of Place

So what sort of things are you looking for? It depends on your purpose, of course. If you want open communication and creative contribution you need a very different space from, say, a sales briefing or a pep-talk. Most spaces in offices are designed for formal meetings – often with an immovable table as its main feature or else stiff seating arrangements sub-consciously asserting who is boss. It is difficult to get people to feel relaxed, confident and creative in such surroundings.

Different kinds of layout correspond to different modes of thought and different kinds of relationship. We can equate these roughly to serious-play. Serious is left brain, logical and didactic; necessary for gathering facts, absorbing information and making decisions. Play is right-brain creative, interactive, pattern-making, exploratory. Put in terms of creativity and Serious tends to be convergent where play tends to stimulate the divergent.

An ideal way to cater for the two is to have a space big enough for alternative layouts; formal at one end of the space and informal at the other. Big enough, perhaps, to let sub-groups form and even to allow for interactions around refreshments or adjoining outdoor space. In any case natural light and fresh air will help. If you are just thinking about workspace, then it will be useful to allow different spaces for different functions, not assume one kind of space will suit all purposes.

Open Space, as developed by Harrison Owen, is a way of maximising informal interaction. The title refers to the method of working – a space for ideas to grow – but it also reflects the principle of providing a physical space in which something can emerge. Ideally there would be no furniture whatever. However it might be prudent to provide some chairs so people can sit when tired. Similarly, small portable tables might be useful for drinks or for people to draw or write. On the other hand vertical surfaces – whiteboards and flipcharts – encourage people to have conversations as they think visually and look at one another’s work. These might be on the walls, although portability would again be an asset so that groupings can change and move. Flexibility is a useful attribute. Much is gained by everything being in a state of flux that allows for new connection, physical, social and mental.

In terms of off-site workshops we have particular experience in establishing conditions for creativity to flow. Our ‘inspiration centre’ is a residential facility that combines adequate comfort and safe space in natural surroundings. Friendly and discrete service and wonderful food enable deep experience of being apart from the needless rush of modern life. It provides stimulus with space to think. Such a quality of place and space combines to facilitate the emergence of new ideas and new relationships. It provides a kind of magic that bears little comparison with the kind of constrained or opulent spaces many people try to use. It is a vessel supportive of regenerative interaction for individuals and teams – This is especially valuable to leadership teams as they evolve their organisations’ futures.

come and see for yourself