10th December 2023
The grouse season – the time of year when this wild bird can be harvested for food – has ended on a high note with rural communities celebrating a substantial economic boost.
There had been fears that the season would be cut short in the north of England due to poor breeding success, but in fact it has surpassed expectation in many areas.
Small businesses including pubs, hotels, shops, butchers and taxi companies in rural areas have been boosted by an unexpectedly buoyant season.
Charles Cody, landlord of the Charles Bathurst Inn in Arkengarthdale and the Punch Bowl in Swaledale, employs 42 staff. He says: “We have shooting parties staying with us each year and dining in the restaurant. This year, the availability of grouse shooting in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale due to a sustainable surplus of birds has been particularly strong. The abundance of birds has meant that groups attracted to the Dales to shoot has extended well into November, with estates adding extra days, which is a welcome boost to the local economy at this time of year.
“The management of the moors by the estates plays an important role throughout the year in maintaining the beauty of the moors, the heather and the wildlife habitat. This helps make our Dales one of the most beautiful areas to visit in the UK, benefiting the economy throughout the year. Shooting also helps to underwrite employment in the area, helping to retain working age people and families in an area struggling to retain its communities, which benefits us all.”
Paul Terry of Harker’s Coaches in Reeth says: “Swaledale is surrounded by shooting estates. The sporting season is essential to the local economy. I’ve been running the business for ten years and now have six employees. We offer vehicle servicing and repairs throughout the year as well as the vehicle hire business. During the season we are booked to pick up estate visitors from the airports and take them to their accommodation. We also provide 4×4 vehicles for shoot days. It’s a major part of the business.”
Mark Cunliffe-Lister, chair of the Moorland Association, said: “The grouse season helps generate tourism and employment for moorland communities across the north of England. There is not a rural community in these areas that could afford to lose either the number of jobs created by the grouse estates or the business that is generated through estate work year-round.
“Everything from pubs and hotels, clothing companies, fencing contractors, local shops, builders and garages are all boosted by a successful season of wild harvest for the plate.
“Sustainable land management for grouse also ensures that some of the most beautiful areas of the country are protected, for the benefit of everyone.”
Grouse moor managers in England invest £52.5m each year, directly supporting 1,500 jobs.
In addition to the permanent estate staff employed year-round such as gamekeepers, each shoot day provides work for between 30 and 50 people on average.
Trade linked to grouse shooting in the north of England is worth in excess of £15 million a year, benefiting a range of rural businesses, many of them based in the most remote parts of the uplands.