End of Season Newsletter 2019


2019 was a better year for deer stalking and fishing, and Chesthill House and Gardener’s Cottage guests had some great triumphs and hopefully lots of memorable, happy times.

We remain focussed on our aim to build on South Chesthill’s existing qualities as a top, traditional all-round Scottish sporting Estate, and ensuring the service we offer matches that.  In many ways it is a “home away from home” for our tenants who we are delighted to welcome year after year.

Some significant repairs, decoration and upholstery improvements were made at Chesthill House in January and February, and general improvements to Keeper’s Cottage and Inverinain Lodge later in the year.  Croftgarrow Wood was partially replanted and we have many projects planned for the year ahead to improve our wildlife (more vermin control), the hill (more heather burning, a new regeneration zone, less grazing from neighbours’ sheep, maybe bracken spraying) the walls (maintenance & rebuilding), fencing (in particular the march fence with Ben Lawers) as well as general property maintenance.

Thank you to tenants and guests for your feedback comments and all of these have been reviewed and action taken in many cases – these comments are vital to help us improve so please do continue to email housekeeper@southchesthill.com with comments however big or small.

The Team

Ainster Smith and Liz Elworthy have settled into both Keeper’s Cottage and their roles as Keeper/Caretaker and Housekeeper roles respectively, and have been warmly welcomed by both tenants and the local community.  Liz has also been working in the garden and managing the bookings.  Their energy and professionalism is greatly appreciated.

Ben Campbell is our estate Handyman, living at Dericambus, and Scott Nisbet, supported by John Sinclair, continue as our Factors.  Debbie Beer continues her behind-the-scenes work with book-keeping and administrative support.

Matthew Kerr from Roromore is our shepherd.  We have fewer but still too many of our neighbours’ sheep on our high ground and as such we are hoping to repair the march fence with Ben Lawers.


As recently as 2012 we were catching over 100 salmon a year.  In 2017 it fell to 27 salmon, 2018 just 20, the worst since records began in 1953.  2019 has seen a recovery, with many more fish seen and an increase in the catch to 32.  The season started slowly but a late run in October counted for 13 fish caught with the heaviest, a 24lb cock fish, caught in Gate Pool by Richard Hoare. There were first salmon caught for Drake Brown at Bridge Pool and Lucy Gladwin at Gate Pool both on Flying Cs. The most prolific pool this year was Gate Pool with 13 (unlucky for some) Well done to all the successful fishermen. 

Let’s beat it again in 2020!  There are positive signs and we do have fishing available, with gaps in April, May and June, and one in September.

Thank you to those fishermen who have observed our new catch and release policy (do ask for details), and it is good to see that 31 out of the 32 fish caught were returned safely.


Congratulations to Max Gladwin, aged 15, who shot his first stag in August after a long, hard stalk (enabled by a September cancellation). The rut started in mid September and roars could still be heard in mid November. The weather was kind to us for the first half of the season which allowed for some spectacular views and successful days on the hill.  The latter half was very wet however we only lost one day due to poor visibility. The average weight of the 45 stags was 12.9 stone, a little below the 5 year average of 13.6 stone, with the heaviest coming in at 18 stone.

The hind season has gone well and we have currently culled 36 hinds but we have quite a few to cull out of the recently-replanted Croftgarrow Wood which is a work in progress. Congratulations to all guests and stalkers on a good stalking season and for battling the elements where necessary.

Our cull target was reduced in 2018/19 from 70 to 50, due to the hard spring in early 2018, and remains at that level for this season.  However I wouldn’t be surprised if it increases again as 2019 was a good breeding season, so please do let us know if you are interested.

Grouse Shooting

After another thin showing on the first grouse day, we decided to cancel the remaining days.  Thank you to those who missed out for your understanding, in the interests of preserving the breeding stock.  The exception was in October to enable my brother William to complete his third Macnab (salmon, grouse and stag in the same day) – congratulations William!  Unless there’s a strong breeding season we have decided to have a year off shooting in 2020 along with increased moorland management to encourage the population to grow for the future.  I’m confident that we have the right environment, ambition and determination to regularly achieve five or more brace per day, and that numbers can grow from there over the medium term.

Other Activities

Our sporting tenants remain our core focus, but other activities can be a useful supplement in quieter times of the year, so do get in touch if you are interested in running a photographic, artistic, writing or yoga retreat, fitness camp, corporate team building session or falconry course.

Nature tours, bicycles, kayaks, walks and an array of nearby activities (details on http://www.southchesthill.com) do, I hope, enable non-sporting guests and children to enjoy and feel part of the Estate in the same way that sporting guests do.

Bookings & Prices – 2020

The guest feedback has again been positive with many repeat bookings taken for 2020.  Tenants have two months from their departure date to pay their deposit to reserve their week the following year; otherwise it is up for grabs.  Please enquire about:

  • Chesthill House: : sleeps 16 but the dining room is better suited to 12 adults (plus children).  Sunday to Sunday (short-stays bookable within three months).  Six miles river for six/seven salmon rods, trout loch, stalking (stags and hinds), plus some walked up grouse (grouse to be rested in 2020), Price range for 2020 is £2,800 to £5,000 for the house, including VAT, excluding sport.
  • Gardener’s Cottage: sleeps four.  Sunday to Sunday (short-stays bookable within two months).  Trout and salmon fishing and other activities can be booked as an extra, depending on availability.  Price range £485 to £795, including VAT.
  • Fishing only: fishing is sometimes available, when the accommodation is not let.  Prices from £10 per day for trout fishing and £30-£40 per day for salmon fishing (reduced if you take more than one rod).

Yours sincerely,

Charlie Ramsay

19 January 2020