Gamekeepers in Teesdale and Weardale are aiming high for the air ambulance
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
AN event organised by gamekeepers from Teesdale and Weardale has raised £1,500 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
While “four moor days” are popular in the Yorkshire dales, this is the first time that such an event has taken place in County Durham. The event sees game keepers running drives on four moors in one day. Newbiggin moor headkeeper Rob Mitchell added: “During the day keepers raised £1,500, which included the sale of the grouse and money left behind at the bar. This is a great example of the grouse community being able to work together.”
The day kicked off at Wolsingham moor at 9am on October 23 with headkeeper Jonathan Maughan and beat keeper Craig Paul running the drive. Mr Mitchell said: “The second drive on Stanhope moor started at 11am on the shooting box with headkeeper Scott Joplin and beat keepers Matthew Holgate, Robert Pearl and Paul Stephenson running the drive, again we left the picking up team to sweep the butts and follow on. We then headed to Hunstanworth lunch hut on Newbiggin moor and stopped for lunch”.
At 2pm the group ran their third drive on Dry Rigg with Mr Mitchell and beat keepers Shane Ridley and Darren Jacques bringing in the drive.
The final shoot on Eggleston moor saw headkeeper Robert Beadle and beat keepers Jonathan Swinbank and Bobby Allinson take the group into Tarns allotment where they did two drives.
Mr Mitchell said: “When the final horn was blown the picking team swept the butts for the last time. The day was finished off in the Moorcock Inn, at Eggleston, where the guns had provided food and drink for all involved in the day. The bag at the end of the day was 89 brace. The day was hugely successful and all the guns loved it and were up to the challenge of extremely windy conditions and testing birds.”
He thanked all the beaters, flankers, loaders and the picking up team for their efforts on the day.
Counting the cost of poor shooting season
RURAL upland businesses and communities across the north of England have been counting the cost of a poor grouse shooting season and a financial loss that runs into millions of pounds.
During the four-month season which finished last week, an estimated 70 per cent of shoot days were cancelled. Survey data indicates the financial impact of these cancellations is about £11million. The Moorland Association says that while the shoot programme was a blow for country sports lovers, the real impact was felt by local businesses who rely on grouse shooting income, especially in the shoulder months of the tourist season. Hotels, pubs, restaurants, game dealers, contractors and other ancillary businesses have lost much-needed revenue due to the lack of grouse shooting customers, the association said. Amanda Anderson, director, said: “2018 has been a disappointing year for most of the grouse shooting community in England where overall 70 per cent of shoot days were cancelled due to low red grouse numbers. The knock on negative economic impact has been significant and rural businesses have really felt the hit.” The intense cold in February brought by the Beast from East followed by a prolonged drought affected the growth of heather, the red grouse’s principal food source. “The good news is that despite the poor season, grouse estates across the country continue to invest heavily in the conservation of the moorlands,” she added.