With the true onset of autumn, we’re well into the sporting season – which raises the question of just where to engage in a good day’s shooting. The UK is brimming with exceptional estates of varying appeals and landscapes, from rarefied Hampshire grounds to sprawling Highland mountainsides. Here, Matt Smith of the Purdey Sporting Agency – gatekeepers to the finest shooting the country has to offer – recommends four of the best.
Arundel, West Sussex
"Arundel Estate is one of the truly unique locations we are lucky enough to have access to. Covering almost 16,000 stunning acres in West Sussex, the estate incorporates both a renowned high-bird pheasant shoot in Arundel Park, and a very special wild-bird shoot promoting wild grey partridges and pheasants at Peppering and North Stoke. Shooting at Arundel is a once in a lifetime experience; each day is hosted from the stunning castle with six drives."
"Shooting in the park, one can expect towering pheasants flushed from immaculately managed woodland over deep-rolling valleys, while those shooting Peppering and North Stoke will experience the thrill and unpredictability of truly wild-game with birds that either stand on their tails once cornered, or bolt through or around the gun-line, fast and low.
"Arundel is classic shooting – as it was in years gone by – with a focus on quality sport in some of the best kept landscapes in the country. With opportunities to take days here few and far between, shooting at the estate truly is a Holy Grail-level experience."
"Situated at the top of the Breamish Valley at the foot of the Cheviots, the Linhope Estate covers some 14,000 acres – from high, heather-clad hilltops to the valley floor, where the river cuts down from Linhope Spout waterfall.
"Often referred to as having its own microclimate, Linhope offers the visiting gun some of the most exciting and challenging shooting in the UK, in a truly wild and rugged landscape largely untouched by man for the past few millennia. From fast, high clouds of partridge crossing from one side of the valley to the other, to pheasants powering high over the guns from hanging woodland, there is a bird to challenge and satisfy everyone. Estate manager John Queen is a jovial host, buoyed by the passion and support of the owner, Lord James Percy.
"Linhope Lodge sits central to the estate and is the ultimate cosy home-from-home for visiting teams. After tracking down the seven-mile-long driveway, the lodge is a warm and welcoming sight, with a well-drilled team of housekeepers and chefs ensuring your stay is comfortable and well catered for! While the weather at Linhope might be changeable, the experience is always top class."
"Located just 20 minutes from Purdey at the Royal Berkshire, Benham is one of our regular and favourite estates. A classic downland partridge shoot, the sport here consists of traditional birds driven over tall beech hedges, using the prevailing wind to curl and twist the birds over the guns – out-foxing even the most well-versed of guns.
"Head gamekeeper Justin Gomer has been on the estate for over 20 years, starting as beat-keeper before progressing to the helm. The hard work and efforts of his team were recognised in 2002, when the estate landed a Purdey Award for contributions to conservation – a combination of the dedication to agriculture and fieldsports existing in harmony, the management of existing woodland and creation of new woodland plantings, and the promotion of rare and declining farmland and ground-nesting birds."
"The Richens Lodge, sat by the banks of the River Kennet (where the estate boasts 12.5 miles of double-banked fishing) is a beautiful yet secluded setting for the morning meet, lunch, and tea and cake after the day.
"Shooting on Benham Estate is like taking a step back in time – each day feels totally relaxed, with the focus being on enjoyment and quality shooting."
"Prescombe Estate has been on the Purdey Sporting Agency’s roster from the very early incarnation of the business – the first day we ever let was at Prescombe, which therein marked the start of a 25 year long relationship."
"Shoot proprietor Stephen Thomas and shoot captain Nigel Brown are ‘old hands’, with a long-developed patter and repertoire between themselves and the clients. They are natural hosts and great company. As for the shooting, it’s hard to believe that Prescombe’s valleys and combes were formed by glaciers millennia ago and not by design… the land is simply made for shooting."
"Prescombe’s speciality is partridges, presenting a constant stream of high, fast birds covering the whole gun-line, consistently on each drive. There are birds to challenge everybody, and plenty of them! September days at Prescombe are complemented by fantastic outdoor catering – there’s little finer than enjoying a tasting board of game-based treats in the late-summer sun. With fantastic shooting and jovial hospitality, Prescombe is the ultimate partridge shoot."
For more information and available dates, visit the Purdey Sporting Agency or contact Sporting Agents Matt Smith (email@example.com) and Gordon Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) on +44 1491 672900.