Scotland’s rural economy is ‘back to business’ with the Glorious 12th marking the return of the annual grouse hunting season after two difficult years due to the pandemic.
Game wardens at estates across Scotland said the significance of the glorious 12 should ‘not be underestimated’ this year as many lodges and local businesses welcome locals and international tourists alike.
Ross Ewing, moorland manager at Scottish Land and Estates, said August 12 – the traditional start date of the season – marks a “vital extension” to the tourist season.
“Rural businesses need trade now more than ever, and the return of international visitors to Scotland’s iconic moorlands is an important lifeline that will see many through what is shaping up to be a tough winter,” a- he declared.
“The importance of the glorious 12 this year should not be underestimated.
“Research has shown that grouse hunting consistently generates higher local and regional levels of expenditure than other comparable land uses, making it a vital cornerstone of the rural economy that supports more jobs through hectare than other sectors.
“Improving grouse numbers and a pent-up thirst for grouse shooting from international visitors mean this year is shaping up to be a good one – not just for those who shoot, but for rural workers and businesses who are supported by one of Scotland’s most important rural areas’.
Game wardens say they are eager to welcome international tourists again after the pandemic.
The chief caretaker at Forneth Farm in Perthshire, Craig Brown, said the season would give the local economy “a real boost”.
He said: “Rural communities and businesses such as hotels, pubs, restaurants and suppliers will all benefit from more people coming to Scotland.
“Most estates will be finalizing their filming schedule for the season with reports of large group bookings. Last year the uncertainty caused by travel restrictions and poor weather conditions took an impact and we are glad to see things bounce back.
Chloe Forbes, 27, from Perthshire, was part of one of the first parts of filming on See Far Hill at Forneth Farm.
She said: “We are all very happy to be back on the Hill this year and to know what it means to so many people in rural communities.”
Shooting parties also went to the North Yorkshire Moors near Whitby, where country sports enthusiasts put gun dog trainers and their dogs through their paces, pointing and retrieving grouse.
Chief goalkeeper Mark Taylor said: “It’s a huge boost for everyone in the region to see a normal shooting season begin. It means so much to people from different walks of rural life.
“We are looking forward to bringing everyone together as well as the shooting groups who come from all over Europe and further afield in the moors of northern England.”
Lucie Hustler of the Norfolk and Suffolk Field Trials Club was one of the first on the moors on Friday morning with her two-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer Oxo.
She said: ‘The heather clad North York Moors have never looked better and our dogs feel right at home here.
“We all know how important grouse hunting is and the benefits it brings to hotels and businesses, as well as its positive contribution to habitat and species conservation.”
Tay House, a sporting lodge in Dunkeld, Perthshire, benefits hugely from the grouse season.
This year it is hosting filming parties from home and abroad, including a group of 16 Americans.
Three local group bookings this season are estimated to generate over £210,000 for Dunkeld’s economy.
Tay House owner Mike Smith said: ‘Our business is built around the fishing trade and tourism throughout the spring and summer months, which then revolves around the grouse and grouse season. pheasants during the fall and winter months.
“We are dependent on rural tourism, particularly the country sports sector during the off season from September to December, without this we simply could not operate as a business.
“The shooting season is vitally important to so many rural businesses and villages like Dunkeld. It enables a rural way of life and generates a real sense of community.