With its rugged hills and steep-sided valleys, Wales offers some of the finest and most challenging game shooting in the UK says Sam Rickitt. Here is a round up of the best Welsh shoots.

The Welsh countryside has been shaped over the centuries by its rural community, a sense of common culture and a passion for sport. Shooting is fundamentally tied to this landscape. In his foreword to the Countryside Alliance’s Shooting in Wales – For Countryside & Community, rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards CBE declares, ‘I truly believe that shooting in rural Wales is bound up with our nation’s sporting culture and traditions.’ The hills and valleys of this rugged utopia provide some of the most demanding game shooting in the UK. With an eye on sustainability, showing good birds in the right manner and challenging sport, we look at some of the best Welsh shoots that Cymru has to offer.



best Welsh shoots

A flagship of the Bettws Hall stable, Brigands is synonymous with particularly high pheasants. Breathtaking in scale, this bracken-clad shoot nestles in the stunning valleys of the Snowdonia National Park. Composed of traditional hill farms, Brigands is perched 1,500ft above sea level and ranges over 12,000 acres. Bouquets of pheasants are driven off the mountainsides across the waiting (often quivering) line of guns. There are a range of drives but be warned: they are not for the faint-hearted. Favourites such as 720, Waterfall and The Oaks offer superb sport while, for the high-bird aficionado, the most well-documented is Tommy’s, where birds are flushed from a point 460ft above the pegs. “Guns are so high up,” says Marc Brown of Bettws Hall Sporting Club, “that elevenses is often courtesy of the RAF, with an array of training aircraft and fighter jets passing through – and sometimes under – the drives.”

Bettws Hall Sporting Club; 01686 650628; marc@bettwshallsporting.com


Located near the village of Machynlleth, the Dyfi Falls shoot was founded three years ago by Cambrian Birds, headed by director Anthony Pryce. The steep-sided valleys of this 2,000-acre estate are covered with natural woodland and bracken. With a large game farm and two hatcheries, the shoot offers mixed days of its own pheasants and partridges. At signature drive Unbelievable, birds launch from the tops of high hills to cross the valley and the guns below. A picturesque river snakes through the estate at Cwm Rhaiader. “The Waterfall is an exceptional drive that presents the birds unbelievably,” says Pryce, “and long, sweeping valleys mean swirling winds keep our guns on their toes.” Many of the days at Dyfi are hosted by Pryce himself, and with a luxurious new shoot lodge and in-house catering team of Huw Jones and Sioned Pugh (Jones was a personal chef to the late Queen for 34 years), Dyfi Falls offers a superb all-round shooting experience.

Cambrian Birds; 07730 218136; will@cambrianbirds.co.uk


Set near Crickhowell in the heart of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Glanusk estate is the jewel of the Usk Valley: a truly diversified estate with a rich sporting history that goes back to its creation in 1826. Sport at Glanusk has now been taken back in hand and there is rough shooting available for those keen to shoot over the challenging hills and valleys. With stratospheric birds coming off western slopes of the Black Mountains, Glanusk is most famous for two drives: Tan y Lan and Church (as featured in The Great Shoots: Britain’s Best – Past and Present). Estate owner Harry Legge-Bourke is excited to be bringing the shoot back on a family basis, with some let days available next season. These famous drives will, of course, take centre stage. Hospitality is first class and top-notch accommodation is on offer for shooting parties in the main house.

Estate office; 01873 810414; info@glanuskestate.com


“It is the variety, having everything in one small part of Wales, that makes people come back,” says Martin Lott, director of LEM Sporting at Llechweddygarth. The estate is seated at the foot of the Berwyn range and presents top-quality pheasant and partridge shooting, with demanding high birds. It is not just the quality of the sport or the rugged beauty of the backdrop that encourages guns to return but also the five-star hospitality, from a gun bus with leather sofas and a wood burner to the bespoke shoot chalet with local produce prepared by a Michelin-starred chef. “We feel like a private shoot and take care of you from the moment you arrive to the time you leave,” says Lott. “No matter what type of shooting you take, it has to be fun. Every team that comes here feels a little special.”

LEM Sporting; 07813 319423; martin@lottestatemanagement.co.uk


best Welsh shoots

Nestled at the foot of Garn Wen, the Llwyn Madoc estate sits within steep valleys and ancient woodland in the shadow of the Cambrian Mountains. Pheasants speed off high bracken-laden banks and steeple over towering woodland. This quintessential country estate is rooted in the local community, showcases superb sport for all levels and has guns returning year after year. Llwyn Madoc has recently been taken back in hand by estate owner Patrick Bourdillon, with an emphasis on quality over quantity and an ethos of sustainable and ethical shooting. The 18th-century manor house provides teams with superb accommodation as well as being a perfect backdrop for one of the favourite drives: Bald Eagle. Guns are arranged in front of the house, with the lake behind, and birds driven from the wooded hillside fly over the house and the line below. If something more taxing is in order, MelinyCwm has a flushing point 100 metres above the guns with birds hurtling across the valley. Not for the timid.

Estate office; 01591 620564; 07811 261294; 07990 079009


Separated from neighbouring Dyfi Falls by a river, Pennal is another shoot run by Cambrian Birds. With steep and impressive hills, the shoot ranges over some 5,000 acres. The topography has more open-top hills, suiting a higher proportion of partridges. “We designed the shoot this way and it works superbly,” says Pryce, “and if it is a tough, windy day for pheasants, the partridges come off the tops of the valley like rockets.” A wide choice of drives means there is something for everyone: at Megabowl partridges fly over the guns from all sides; at Turbo pheasants are flushed from the top of established woodland and fan out over the shooting line. Then there is the signature Humble Pie. “This drive is extraordinary,” says Pryce. “Some love it and some hate it.” Birds are driven off the top of the hill; for Clearfell drive the guns line a track halfway down the hill, while for Humble Pie that line is 60 yards further downhill. One for high-bird specialists.

Cambrian Birds; 07730 218136; will@cambrianbirds.co.uk


Set in the heart of the Pembrokeshire National Park in south-west Wales, the Slebech estate offers shooting over 5,000 acres and sits at the top of the Daugleddau Estuary and Slebech Forest. An entirely wild-bird shoot, habitats range from marsh and bog to small hedges, dense coverts, larger blocks of forestry, and ponds. This stunning estate undertakes a huge amount of habitat work for which it received the coveted Purdey conservation award. With its coastal location Pembrokeshire attracts good numbers of migrating woodcock, snipe and wildfowl; it hosts the odd pheasant, and nowadays geese are also appearing in the bag. The estate tries not to shoot any woodcock covert more than once a season. Shooting opens at the end of November, with lines of five or six guns working well and the drives managed by an experienced team of beaters with dogs. Evening duck flighting is offered (weather permitting) and, depending on the day, shoot lunch is provided in a charming converted railway hut, the local pub, the shoot barn or picnic-style in the field. As a fully wild shoot it is hard to guarantee a bag – this can range between 40 and 100 head. Of course, the accuracy and age of the guns can make a difference. It is not unusual to shoot multiple species on a single drive, and every year there is a good chance for a right-and-left woodcock. Rob Fenwick, managing director of sporting agent EJ Churchill, says: “It is one of the most exciting shoots I have ever been on, totally wild and a real treat to be invited. It’s a truly hunter-gatherer experience.”

EJ Churchill; 01494 883227; sporting@ejchurchill.com


Stanage Park is a rural delight, with top-drawer shooting set alongside the resplendent luxury of a historic castle. The 19th-century castle and formal parkland were designed by Humphrey Repton, successor to Capability Brown, and are set in the Welsh Marches near Knighton on the River Teme. The unspoilt landscape is well wooded with big hills and low parkland – perfect for high pheasants. Birds plunge off the hilltops with the wind behind them to rocket over the line of guns. Drives such as Ragged Kingdom and Holloway Oaks are a test, and signature drive Weston has been described as one of the top three drives in the country by Mark Firth, co-founder of Roxtons and director of Mark Firth Sporting. The standard of sport is matched only by the geniality of the host, and the aim of estate owner Jonathan Coltman-Rogers is for guns to enjoy good food, good company and, above all, good sport.

Estate office; office@stanage.co


best Welsh shoots

Some 2,500 acres of unspoilt countryside in the Welsh Marches make up Three Valleys. There is one road in and one road out of the shoot’s deep and wide valleys, and a professional keepering team that knows the shoot intimately (headkeeper Kevin Childs has been at the estate for 15 years). Three Valleys presents exceptional high-bird shooting to challenge any line of guns. “With three steep-sided valleys and two smaller ones, we can offer high birds in October,” says Mark Taylor, director of sporting agency Llanforda. Showing mainly pheasants with a smattering of partridges to keep guns on their toes, the signature drive is aptly named Heaven or Hell. “This drive has everything,” Taylor adds. “Pheasants come down the valley like Lancaster bombers and the odd partridge overhead like Spitfires.”

Llanforda Sporting Agency; 01691 888995; sporting@llanforda.co.uk


best Welsh shoots

Located near the market town of Hay-on-Wye, the 3,000-acre Tregoyd estate provides superb mixed-bird shooting in the shadow of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. With dramatic scenery and deep grass valleys, the shoot has been run by Hardwick Sporting since 2011. When it took the shoot on, it was apparent to sporting director Ben Brown how well the topography would work for partridges. “We shoot mainly partridges at the start of the season, phasing into pheasants from November,” says Brown, “and this means we can show very good birds right from the start of September.” High curling partridges come off steep wooded valley-sides at Ravens Bank; at Cefyn pheasants launch themselves off the top of dramatic conifer woods. The shooting team, led by headkeeper Clive Hussell, has been together at Tregoyd for 10 years and they aim to deliver superb mixed-bird shooting in beautiful surroundings. “Our intention is to provide a really good sporting day,” says Brown, “and have the guns leave us having had fun and some success.”

Hardwick Sporting; 07711 677726; ben@hardwickfarms.co.uk


best Welsh shoots

Often described as the jewel in the Bettws Hall crown, Vaynor Park in Powys is set in breathtaking landscape with parkland, rolling valleys and ancient woodland. A breadth of drives offer both challenging and achievable sport: signatures such as Hanging Wood and Middle House offer awe-inspiring partridges, while Cataphel and The Dams have been featured in print as some of the most beautiful drives in the country. A dedicated keepering team, led by headkeeper Andrew Jones, work tirelessly to provide a level of sport that is just as exciting at the end of the season as it is at the start, and the close proximity to the hospitality of Bettws Hall means a superb all-round sporting experience is assured.

Bettws Hall Sporting Club; 01686 650628; marc@bettwshallsporting.com