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Here at Scotts Castle Holidays, we understand that different guests have different ideas for their stay in Scotland. We also know that some of Scotland’s main attractions are the fabulous sporting opportunities offered at many estates around the country. If your party is looking to spend a few hours, a day or a whole week immersed in one or some of the traditional Scottish sports, we can help you organise this. Many of our lodges are situated on large estates where sporting options are commonplace, and readily available to guests. Some holiday rentals may not have these facilities on site, but they are sure to be nearby. So what is it exactly that you and your party are looking for? The most popular and widely available traditional Scottish sports include fishing, stalking and shooting.
When it comes to fishing, the ‘King of Fish’ (the salmon!) seems to be the more popular catch, and perhaps synonymous with Scottish fishing. The habitual spawning routine of the Atlantic salmon attracts anglers from all over the world to the Scottish rivers where these fish return every year, with the most prolific being the big four; the Dee, Spey, Tay and Tweed. However there are numerous other rivers where you could successfully fish salmon. Trout fishing is also very popular across Scotland, with a variety of species living in lochs, rivers and streams. You should find trout fishing to be widely available in the country.
The salmon and trout season can depend on individual rivers, but generally runs from the 11th of January to the 30th of November, a wide window of opportunity for you to book your holiday! Coarse fishing refers to the fishing of all freshwater fish, other than salmon and trout. The title dates back to the 19th Century, when the Gentry fished recreationally only for salmon and trout, and all other types of fish became known as coarse! Coarse anglers adopt a variety of methods and techniques, meaning the sport can offer something to fishers of all skills at reasonable value. A good choice if you perhaps have beginners in your party.
Lastly sea fishing is an option that remains available throughout the year. Whether you are looking for shore line or deeper, Scotland’s vast coast provides plenty of sea to try! Cod and pollock are a good catch for shore fishing, with many more, larger varieties found deeper if you charter a boat. If you are new to the sport or are not knowledgeable in the local rivers and lochs, it would be worth employing the services of a Ghillie, to guide you to the best spots and assist you to make sure you get the best out of your fishing experience. Ghillie services can sometimes be arranged as an extra from a number of our property’s estate offices, so please let us know, and we will investigate for you!
If stalking takes your fancy, then Scotland is by far the best place to be! The Highland’s wilderness is where the majority of the red deer population reside. The sport is very skilled and a vital part of deer management, so a strategic approach is required; patience and a good shot will also be very useful! Again this type of hunting should be arranged through an estate office, where a professional stalker will accompany you on your hunt. This will be vital for successfully locating the herd, selecting a suitable cull, and getting close enough to make your shot. The Red stag season runs from the 1st of July to the 20th of October. This type of sport requires a little more planning to ensure you have a successful day, so make sure you do your homework, and book in advance!
Driven shooting is widely available during the season in Scotland. This will be something you will need to arrange with the estate, who will provide a gamekeeper for the day’s shooting. As with Red deer, game is managed on each estate with conservation in mind, and a professional gamekeeper will be able to guide you in the best practices and shoot safety guidelines. A driven shoot also requires a lot of organisation, with beaters (who drive the game towards the guns), and ‘pickers-up’ (who retrieve the quarry with the dogs). With potentially a large number of people on the shoot, safety is paramount.
Walked up shooting is also very popular and is potentially gentler on the pocket too. This requires a walking line of guns, which can include dogs. Grouse is perhaps the most famous game hunted in Scotland, and the grouse season commences on the ‘Glorious 12th’ (of August) running to the 10th of December. Most driven shoots tend to consist of 8 to 10 guns, and walk up of 4 to 8 guns. The pheasant is the most common bird found, being naturally adapted to the UK’s hedgerows and woodlands. Large numbers are reared and released into the wild before the commencement of the season to ensure a good shoot! The season runs from the 1st of October to the 1st of February. Game shooting also includes other winged game such as partridge, duck, geese, and ground game such as hares and rabbits. Each season varies slightly so do check this before booking your holiday!
Renting a Lodge
Booking any sporting activity for your holiday will require a lot of organisation, so provide yourself with plenty of time to do your homework into the sport itself, the seasonal availability, and the estate you would like to visit. Having a specific activity on your list of holiday requirements adds a new dimension to finding the right sporting lodge for you, and it is worth getting it right. Please contact the office if you have any questions.
If you are beginners and are not sure where to start, we will be able to provide some property options for you. Alternatively you may be well versed with your chosen sport and have specific questions, in which case we will be more than happy to contact the estate office for you, or we can put you in contact with them directly to discuss sporting arrangements in more detail.
However, an interest in country pursuits is not necessary to enjoy a break in a traditional Scottish hunting Lodge. So if you just wanted to take yourself up into the Hills for a ton of fresh air and some fun with friends, many of our properties can be let on a stand-alone basis, and the majority of them welcome dogs leaving no excuse for not bringing the family pooch along.