It is important to me and my family that South Chesthill remains an estate that offers a variety of sport and activities. For this reason, with deer competing with grouse for the ground, and also due to the steep terrain, the estate will never be a driven grouse moor. However, it is my hope that we can increase numbers from current levels through increased efforts at vermin control (new night vision telescopic sight and quad bike purchased, Larson traps dusted off), increased burning of old heather (I plan to help Hamish with this in early April), and the introduction of medicated grit (trialled for the first time this year).
This season three walked up days were undertaken: the first was a wash out due to the after effects of hurricane Bertha, but the second and third both resulted in five brace in the bag per day, and much enjoyment. Next season we will continue to aim for three days walked up with a five brace target each day, and will hope that in the future we can increase both the number of days and the bag.
In 2014 we introduced Nature Tours, available all year excluding September and October: these were a great success, with over 10 walks undertaken. Tenants are escorted by Hamish on foot or in the land rover, with whom they discuss what they most want to see, and construct the day accordingly. Species to see include Red Deer (and calves, option to “stalk” to get as close as possible for a photo), Ptarmigan (fitness required to climb to top of hill!), Black cock, Grouse, Golden Eagles, Buzzards, Osprey, Otters, Golden Plover, Snipe (if wet) as well as the beautiful landscape. There is a small charge for this, visits to the hill loch and clay pigeon shooting for Inverinain and Gardener’s Cottage tenants, but all are now free for Chesthill House tenants. For a flavour of what you might be able to see, please do have a look in our ever-growing Wildlife Gallery!
In July, Hamish and I cut a path from the black bridge to the “Roman” (also known as pack horse) bridge along the old droving path on the south side of the river. This makes an enjoyable 45 minute round walk for Gardener’s Cottage and Chesthill House guests who prefer a relatively flat (and beautiful) walk. White posts mark the route and Hamish will point you in the right direction.
My hope is that these activities help non-sporting guests enjoy and feel part of the estate in the same way that sporting guests do. Many tenants and guests remark on the great opportunities there are for other activities nearby – including shopping, sightseeing, golf, water-sports and pony trekking to name a few.