We have scoured the country to bring you this exclusive list of the UK’s best partridge shoots.
Whether they are presenting classic East Anglian hedge skimmers, high birds in the chalk downs of southern England or sky scraping birds off the moorland fringe, the one thing they all have in common is testing sport in stunning surroundings.
Drumlanrig, Dumfries & Galloway
This famous estate holds the mantle as the most terrifying partridge shoot in the land. That’s terrifying in a good way, though. Exploiting wild terrain, legendary headkeeper Rab Clarke and his team deliver drive after drive of stratospheric birds which are hard enough to hit when the wind doesn’t blow. But this is south west Scotland, and chances are the wind will be blowing, so you had better be on your A game when you visit.
The shoot is managed by John Duncan on behalf of Roxtons and he said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming back our regular guns as well as one or two new teams who we know are excited about testing themselves on famous drives like Scudlaw, Cample Cleuch and the Whirlpool. Our partridges are match fit and we’ve also opened up a new valley for this season which we have every confidence will only enhance the whole Drumlanrig experience.”
Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire
With its prominent geographical position overlooking the magnificent Vale of Belvoir and fascinating place in British history, the Duke of Rutland’s estate offers more than just a good day’s shooting to the visiting team. Shoot captain and estate director Phil Burtt is a passionate sportsman with a wealth of sporting experience across the UK, and he and his team will ensure your sporting needs are met. But it’s not just the shooting which makes Belvoir stand out. You can meet in the stunning Guard Room in the castle in the morning and return for lunch. Or, if you want to go the whole hog, then staying in the castle for a night or two could make this the shooting trip which dreams are made of, with state bedrooms, fine wines, roaring fires, dinner in the Duke and Duchess’s private quarters etc. Just make sure you save yourself for the shooting.
Tel: 01476 871004
Between Salisbury and Shaftesbury on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, Prescombe is not far from Gurston Down (overleaf) geographically or in terms of quality of sport. With nearly 3,000 acres, and more than 30 different drives from either woodland or cover crops, its fantastic scenery coupled with deep valleys make it one of the premier partridge shoots in the UK.
Shoot owner and wine connoisseur Steve Thomas is famous for his hospitality and apart from the shooting you will be guaranteed a superb traditional lunch, served with fine wines, picked with care by his own hand. All the food is freshly prepared at the lodge and served to you while you relax after the excitement of the shoot. Web: prescombesporting.com
This wonderful shooting enclave in the Sidlaw Hills above Dundee offers a tremendous day’s partridge shooting. A series of narrow valleys ensure that guns have to have strong neck muscles to keep their eyes on the skies as the birds flood over at great speed and in large coveys. The partridges start in mid October with days from 150 to 400 birds available and they aim to provide guests with top level on drives like Devil’s Elbow, Westlaws and Lynn McGray. Meanwhile delicious food is served in the comfort of a converted barn with a blazing log fire, and a warm welcome from all involved.
Tel: 01821 640234
This established Norfolk shoot was completely overhauled by Nick Culley and his team in 2015 and now offers everything from an immaculate and cosy purpose-built shoot lodge to a fantastic new gunbus and plenty of partridge presented in the classic way: over hedgerows. The beaters walk large fields of holding cover, often in plain view of the guns, as the birds are gradually driven towards the flushing point. And then if there is a decent breeze on the day these redlegs hurtle over the line from all angles creating scintillating shooting.
With 50 drives at their disposal there are plenty of options for all weather conditions and to top it all the catering and hospitality is exactly as it should be, making all guns feel welcome and a little special for the day.
Gurston Down, Wiltshire
David Hitchings is widely known as one of the leading pioneers of the modern high partridge shoot at this famous shoot on the Wiltshire Downs. That was a few years ago now and these days his nephew Robert Hitchings runs the shoot in the same vein, offering tremendously exciting birds to regular teams of happy guns.
The steep terrain ensures the birds will always be high but it’s the knowledge and expertise of the team on the ground which keeps people coming back year after year and guarantees Gurston a spot at the top table of partridge shoots.
As we went to press Robert told us: “Our partridge days run from mid-September to mid-October. The cover crops have benefitted from the wet weather this year, with the maize being exceptionally well advanced. The partridge, reared from day-old chicks, were released out into the cover strips mid-August and will be about 20 weeks old on the first shoot day. So everything is looking set for a good season, with healthy birds and fantastic game crops, so now we are hoping for some decent winds, which always spice up partridge shooting days. Although September is sold out, there is limited availability in early October.
Tel: 01722 780888
Warter Priory, East Yorkshire
Warter Priory is a world class driven game shoot set in the heart of East Yorkshire amidst 12,000 acres of rolling farmland, deep open valleys and ancient woodland providing impressive scenery and topography. The estate prides itself on a reputation for quality driven game birds and challenging high drives under the direction of headkeeper Frank Croft and his team.
With in excess of 50 drives to choose from each day is totally different from any which have gone before and Warter’s aim is to ensure all guns have a memorable and enjoyable day. All the guns are encouraged to travel to the drives together in the purpose-built gun bus. Guns are sold on a single gun or full team basis and they typically offer 300- or 500-bird days with no overage charged. However, the bag and the shooting can be adapted to suit the individual requirements of a team.
On a cold winter’s eve a shooting trip to Lord James Percy’s Linhope is almost worth it for the drive to the lodge alone. The lodge lies a few miles west of the main A697 road as it carves its way through Northumberland on the way to the Scottish Borders, and if there is ice around you are in for an adrenaline-filled arrival. But when you get there it’s worth every moment. The lodge is remote, stunning and impossibly well equipped for a shooting party’s every need. But then you will probably need something to comfort you once you have pitted your skills against some of the highest, wildest and fastest partridges you are likely to see outside of Drumlanrig.
Molland is on the edges of the beautiful Exmoor National Park and there are many excellent shoots densely concentrated in this Mecca for the high bird enthusiast, but Molland has always been in the premier league. The shoot is run by the incomparable team from Bettws Hall and bears all the hallmarks of boss Gwyn Evans’ enviable attention for detail and understanding of what the modern game shooter is looking for. They told us: “The team have had a very successful rearing season and we have a new drive open this year which we are incredibly excited about. Shoot manager Caleb Sutton and the team are looking forward to seeing old and new faces.”
Tel: 01686 650628
Iford Downs, West Sussex
Nestled into the hills a mile or two from the south coast between Brighton and Newhaven, Iford offers a wonderfully well managed day’s shooting. Most of the shoots on this list are in further outposts of the UK but one of main attractions of Iford Downs is its proximity to the capital. An hour’s drive from anywhere in the south of London should see you arriving at the specially built shoot lodge where you will enjoy breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea should you so wish. If you are after a day’s testing partridge shooting with some stunning views of the English Channel and excellent catering, then Iford Downs may well fit the bill.
Tel: 07808 590198