As they say, there is a first time for everything, and today was my first time beating!
Since accepting the job at William Powell as Marketing Exec and Editor of William Powell Country, I’ve been battling with time to try and get out in the field, but with the season being so manic, it’s been a battle that up until now I’d very sadly lost.
So when I’m sitting at home on Thursday evening and I receive the invitation to go beating that Saturday at Stowell Park, I jump at the chance!
Being female and a bit of a newbie, my first thoughts are ‘What do I wear to go beating’! So obviously, I ask around in the office (the William Powell team certainly know their stuff!!) and hop on Google. Well, information online is surprisingly limited, so forever in work mode, I make a note to get something informative for ‘first time beaters’ on William Powell Country pretty pronto (keep an eye out, it will be coming soon).
So I take note mostly from my fellow colleagues. The weather was set to be cold and sleety, and I’d been pre-warned that for some of the drives we’d be walking through brambles, so I planned my attire accordingly.Rather than be one of those ‘all the gear, and no idea’ types, hold off buying anything new for my first time and make do with bits and pieces from my equestrian wardrobe. In the end I settle for my cords (tights underneath!), with a pair of waterproof full chaps, long country boots and two long sleeved jumpers, a waistcoat and a warm and waterproof blouson jacket – not exactly chic, but it’s warm and waterproof so I’m happy. For any first timers reading this, I also had with me a scarf, gloves and an ear warmer which I would definitely recommend that you take! Don’t worry too much about ‘looking the part’, just avoid bright colours, make sure you’re warm and waterproof and you can’t go far wrong. In addition, ladies, remember some chapstick for your lips, when it’s cold and windy, you’ll be grateful!
On arrival I met my friend Lucy (and girlfriend of one of the estate game keepers) at their beautiful little house on the estate and got acquainted with their dogs; one of which, a cocker, would be joining us out beating!
As we were only out for the afternoon, we met the rest of the beaters just in time for a warm steak and kidney pie before hopping on to the beaters wagon to get in position for the first drive. I chat to Lucy (her little cocker Bailey eager at her feet!) about what needs to be done, the reason for the flags and sticks and prepare for instructions from the keeper. As we start to move forward, beaters and dogs working hard to flush the birds out I recognize that I am going to be forking out for some new gear – I want to do this again!
Grateful for my over trousers and boots (it’s pretty wet), I make my way through the brambles. It’s only a slight incline, but it makes me aware of just how unfit I am. As we move in closer to the guns, the dogs are working hard in and out of the undergrowth and the line all comes together. The whistle goes to signify the end of the drive, all the birds have been flushed and its time to move on to the next drive.
The next drive is a bit more walking, and for the most part is a bit easier underfoot. We see a Roe and Fallow deer as well as a few Woodcock and Partridge. Near the end of this drive (the last drive of the day), and as we come in closer to the guns, it occasionally sounds as if it’s raining as some of the shot drops through the canopy of the trees. Having only been out for the afternoon, it felt as if the day was over too quickly. I’d have happily been out for several more hours.
So, how would I summarise my first experience out beating? Well, it was certainly an enjoyable afternoon and a great introduction. For anyone thinking about getting out and giving it a go, I’d certainly recommend it – I will without doubt be jumping at all opportunities to be out next season. What’s more, I’m now even more eager to get my hands on a gun and be on the other side of the line!