About Us

The Great English Outdoors is an online shop with a soul. We are specialists in hand made leather goods; old and new Welsh wool blankets and textiles; offering for sale a range of classic British tailored clothing and a collection of useful but beautiful objects for the house and garden. As well as an eclectic selection of one-off collectibles in our Originals section

For those of you who are unable to visit the shop in Hay On Wye, the website, of The Great English Outdoors, offers you immediate access to this remarkable shop. A visual treat, this is a unique shopping experience, showcasing excellence in workmanship and design inspiration with generic sections devoted to Men, Women, Babies and Children and Dogs
This shop and website was the vision of Athene English, who has been in business since 1979. Our aim is to be different, offering for sale a variety of objects and one off items that you will not find elsewhere on the High Street

You can buy from us with confidence. All our products are carefully selected, everything must be ethically sourced, from natural, organic or sustainable materials, where possible

From an 18th century stone town house in the Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye, Athene English established a thriving business, The Great English Outdoors.  Initially trained as a saddler, Athene  transferred her skills to designing and making beautiful leather goods of the highest quality This collection of leather goods reflects the saddler’s emphasis on strength and durability.  The leather collection is worked in three exceptional qualities of leather, either Classic English, 200 year old Russian Reindeer or English Bridle; all are showcased in the shop and on the website

Classic English is a traditional saddlery leather. It has a rich chocolate colour and deeply embossed grain. Originally this leather came from Scotland, from slow maturing Aberdeen Angus cattle, and because of its strength and durability was used for making saddle girths, Gladstone and kit bags. In recognition of its origins this leather was given its distinctive grain, emblematic of the Scottish wild oat

The remarkable Russian Reindeer leather is richly aromatic and grained with a cross hatched finish; and remained undiscovered in a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea for 200 years. Each item, worked in this, the Stradivarius of leathers, is stamped 1786 with our maker’s mark and accompanied by a certificate giving the story of its amazing discovery and salvage from the wreck in Plymouth Sound

English Bridle Leather is the archetypal saddler’s leather, traditionally used for making bridles and harnesses. Strong enough for a horse, it is overqualified for our range of belts, dog collars, leads and blanket straps. Available in a choice of colours: black, dark old brown, nut brown and chestnut

The rich smell of leather is all pervading from the hand stitched wallets, purses, bags, belts, dog collars and leads on display in the shop and on the website.  It is a tragedy that these scents and aromas cannot be conveyed through the pages of the website!  Athene used to design and make everything in the workshop at Mortimer House.  After a serious injury to her wrist, coupled with an increase in demand for our products, she has trained her own craftsmen to continue the artistry in the workshop.  Athene still overseas all aspects of the creation of the collection, from the selection of the the hides and the design of the products to its making and its packaging.  Each leather piece is lovingly wrapped in layers of tissue and beautifully packaged

As a child Athene loved leather, she would visit a saddlery with her polo playing father, and was immediately seduced by the rich aromas of these raw materials and the atmosphere of the workshops.  Through her love of horses she made her first career in eventing and schooling other people’s mounts until she suffered a serious injury.  As a result Athene went on to train in Saddlery at Cordwainer’s College in London and having graduated moved to Cirencester in Gloucestershire.  As a Saddler who had ridden competitively, she could understand what eventing horses and riders required; and she was living in an area with almost more horses than people which enabled her to run a bespoke saddlery business successfully.

With the move to Hay-on-Wye in 1980s Athene diversified and designed a wider range of leather goods for the shop, The Great English Outdoors