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Page last updated at 14:51 GMT, Wednesday, 11 August 2010 15:51 UK
Is the twelfth still glorious in County Durham?
Shooting on James Scott-Harden's estate
James Scott-Harden says grouse shooting is part of the agricultural mix

It's that time of year again - the so-called Glorious Twelfth - but its description largely depends on your point of view.

The grouse themselves, for one, might disagree.

But, to shooting parties, "glorious" may well be the word with bird numbers sustained over the past few years and the shooting business in good shape.

A recent Moorland Association survey paints a picture of the economic benefits of grouse shooting.

According to the association's figures the grouse shooting business across England and Wales employs some 350 gamekeepers and creates around 42,500 days of work a year for contractors and local people on shoot days.

In addition, they say around 6,500 nights are booked in rural hotels by people who come from all over the world to shoot the wild red grouse - a bird species which is now only found in Britain.

A community business

The upland communities of the north-east of England - such as Blanchland on the County Durham/Northumberland border - are well placed for the grouse shooting season.

Lord Crewe Arms Hotel viewed from the garden, Blanchland
The manager of the Lord Crewe Arms says it is always full during the season

Around this time of year, when the nearby moors are receiving their final attentions before the grouse shooting season starts, the Lord Crewe Arms Hotel in the village gets ready for the invasion of shooting parties.

Neil Brown, the hotel's manager, said that the hotel is always full at this time of year, with shooting parties coming in from far and wide.

He recognises the importance of the season to the local economy: "With the growth of the moors and the additional staff involved and the upkeep of the moors employment has risen with gamekeepers and beaters.

"In addition to that, there's additional employment in the hotels for the season."

Customer service

It's providing the service that the clients want which creates the essential additional income.

Neil Brown continued: "This time of year, we'll be doing additional picnics and luncheons out on the moors, which in itself is a challenge - hiring a 4x4, going out there, setting up the banqueting facilities and, once the guests are back at the hotel, a lot of high-end wines, high-end champagnes, a lot of cognacs that we've bought in at the requests of the clients."

But this economic stability in the rural community does not come without serious effort on the moorland estates.

James Scott-Harden
James Scott-Harden says managing moorlands is a full time job

James Scott-Harden is one moorland owner in the locality who is heavily involved with grouse shooting as part of his estate's agricultural mix.

As a regional representative of the Moorland Association he has the conservation of not only the red grouse, but their habitat, close to his heart.

Management of the moorlands is a 365 day a year job.

"Grouse shooting is hugely important to the management of the estate," he said, "between that and sheep farming, it's the two things that hold the estate together."

Keeping it local

The economic climate has had an effect on what some may see as an expensive sport. James Scott-Harden has found that selling the estate's shooting days has been a challenge.

He said: "I think that the economic situation has had an effect and the days are slightly harder to sell, but the interest is still there.

"It's going to be generally quite a good season and people will be shooting right on through November and December."

Jacqui Dart outside Blanchland Post Office
Jacqui Dart used to be a beater before running the Post Office

Businesses in Blanchland could benefit from any lengthening of the grouse shooting season.

Jacqui and Ian Dart run the village's Post Office and shop and Jacqui, a one time beater [someone who drives the birds towards the shooters] in her early years, explained the importance of the additional custom during the grouse season.

She said: "The shooters that stay in the hotel come in and use the shop daily for newspapers etc and then, even down to my daughter who does the beating there as well, it's just general good business for the whole village."

So, despite far reaching economic woes, some businesses in County Durham and Northumberland have reason to think the grouse shooting season glorious.

Maybe the sport will continue to flourish in the future - as long as the red grouse doesn't have other ideas.

'Grave concern' for grouse shoots
11 Aug 10 |  Tayside & Central




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