A days walked up Grouse Shooting is quite a rarity in England these days and it was with some considerable trepidation that I packed the car for the journey north to Derbyshire. Any walked up Grouse shooting is arduous, but where we were going at the North Western edge of The Peak District is mountainous, at least in the eyes of a not very fit 61 year old! We have been shooting the same bit of ground in this way for about twenty years and the hills definitely get steeper every year.
We stayed locally the night before and met up with the fifth Gun for breakfast. Half an hour later, we met the Keepers at the steading and travelled for the first bit in an Argocat, a miraculous invention (by a Canadian), which travelled effortlessly over the rough ground and delivered us to the foot of a very steep slope which we had to climb before lining out. After twenty minutes huffing and puffing, we reached the flats above and lined out. I took the extreme far side which is an annual form of masochism as this is where all the peat hags are. It is a constant up and down traversing the hags hoping that it isn’t when you are in the bottom of the hag that the solitary Grouse appears.
Within a few minutes the first shots were fired. We weren’t expecting too many Grouse as the summer counts on this ground had been quite poor; very unlike further up the valley where the counts had been good to excellent. Anyway, buoyed by these early siting’s, we tramped on, literally on top of the world. We came across several nice coveys (from fives to elevens) and the shooting was well spread over the line. Our most important Gun was Martin, who had kindly bought the opportunity to shoot today at a local GWCT auction. As a result it was important he got some shooting even if no one else did!
By lunch we had eleven and a half brace and it seemed as though we had walked for miles. We had a light lunch on the hill sitting overlooking the valley. The views were amazing and we had all connected. The afternoons walk was basically doing the lower part of the same ground in return, and as usual because we had disturbed the neighbouring ground in the morning, we didn’t expect to see or shoot as many birds as we had earlier. However, we each had a few shots and I found walking on the lowest part of the hill a welcome change to the morning’s romp.
We returned to the steading for tea and the bag was counted by Andrew, Ian and Josh who had all done sterling work looking after us. We finished with fifteen and a half brace, which was a very good day for a year when we weren’t expecting that much. All the Guns thought that they had really earned their share of the bag and hopefully Martin had enjoyed his day.
I hope along with James (another 60 year old), that we can still undertake this strenuous annual event in a few years’ time. We certainly feel good afterwards, even if we felt absolutely knackered during the day itself!