I get this letter from the foul Mr. Free Market, who torments me with visions of shotgunning Over There:
So tomorrow afternoon I will be driving down to Exmoor – it’s a 3 to 4 hour drive depending on traffic & we will be staying at Morebath Manor near Tiverton. “Set in 21 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland in a sporting area renowned for its highflying birds, the grand, nine-bedroom manor house dates from Domesday, but was rebuilt between 1892 and 1894 for Charles Digby Harrod, founder of the landmark Knightsbridge store, following his retirement in 1891”
& then on Tuesday & Wednesday we have two big days at Haddeo, which is generally regarded as one of the best game shoots in the country – stick it into Google & see what pops up. So, double gunning with loaders it is ! My Berettas will be glowing…
Here’s what Haddeo is all about:
HADDEO & LOYTON
Entry in the Field’s Top 50 Shoots, 2012
In perfect partnership, the Loyton shoot joined with the prestigious Haddeo ground. Entering its fourth united season and covering some 6,000 acres, the pairing offers an outstanding spectrum of high-bird drives situated around the magnificent Exe Valley. Haddeo has for many years been cited as an epitome of Exe Valley shooting, alongside its near neighbour Milton’s. Brought to fame by the legendary Ned Goschen in the days when it was shot as ‘Pixton’, with an interim period in syndicated hands, Angus was thrilled to be given the opportunity to take the shoot on in 2011.
The Loyton shoot was set up by the late Alick Barnes in the 1960s as a low-key family affair and, over the years, developed into an impressive and competitive Exmoor ‘great’. Its proximity to the more famous Haddeo made it the natural partner and has been successfully managed as one for the past four years.
Covering some truly beautiful terrain, it is easy to feel the essence of old Exmoor uniting these two shoots, enriched by a distinguished heritage and family presence. Many of the drives are set along the Haddeo River – you cross the ford at the old village of Bury – and the Exe, a setting which is both spectacular and daunting at once! Famous drives such as St Paul’s will stay in memory for a lifetime, presenting a ‘leisurely’ flow of incredibly high, soaring birds, to be seen way over the treetops – an unforgettable sight for spectator and participating sportsman alike!
There are many key drives between Haddeo & Loyton but be prepared for Brookside, Lloyd’s, Swine’s Cleave, Beech Cover, Buckley’s, Woodcock Corner etc. Predominantly pheasant, they also release partridge on five of the drives.
Quarry: Pheasant and partridge from early October to the end of January.
Lunch is most usually served in the Shoot Tent, set in the grounds of Loyton Lodge. This is a large and hugely comfortable safari-style affair, views of the surrounding countryside and offering the best of both worlds: Bask in the sunshine early on in the season or warm yourself sitting by the log burner on the colder, later days. Whatever the weather, this is a highly enjoyable experience and something a little bit different. In keeping with years of family tradition, expect an irresistible interpretation of the more traditional shooting lunch: delectable pies, roast chicken or our famous curry. A converted Land Rover Series 90 is used to serve celebrated mid-morning breaks with home-reared pork sausages, soups and pies from a luxurious purpose-built bar.
Are you getting the idea yet? No? Then spend a little time with ace shotgunner Dave Carrie at another beautiful shoot, Warter Priory (about 15 minutes — don’t bother trying to understand what he’s saying, even other Yorkshiremen have trouble — just enjoy the atmosphere and marvel at the difficulty of the sport). Happy dogs, good shooters, Range- and Land Rovers… the list goes on and on. Note too that the shooters are wearing ties and waistcoats — my kind of dress altogether. Yeah, it’s all a bit old-fashioned… like me.
All jokes aside, I want to do this so badly, it makes my trigger finger itch like it’s been bitten by a mosquito. And then there’s Mulgrave, which makes me want to hitch-hike across the Atlantic.
And here’s the gun I want to use: an AyA No.4 (Bournbrook) in 20ga but to be honest, I’d take just about any old shotgun in any chambering, as long as it has side-by-side barrels — because as any fule kno, shotguns barrels belong side-by-side, like a man and his dog; not over-and-under, like a man and his mistress. And double triggers, please.
Mr. Free Market’s original letter was entitled: “This Is Why You Hate Me”, and it is. One day, Rodders… [obscure British reference].