Glenogil Estate is an Important Driver of Local EconomyNeil Hardie
Glenogil is a renowned sporting estate in the Angus Glens, originally owned by Stephen Williamson, elected MP for St Andrews in 1880.
It has more than 23,000 acres of shooting available and is said to have some of the best grouse shooting in the country.
However, Glenogil did not escape the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and another recent blow to the estate was bad weather earlier in 2021, which led to no grouse shooting this season. Glenogil, which also offers pheasant and partridge shooting, is an important driver of the economy in the area.
Andrew Montgomery, a director of Glenogil Limited, said that 20 employees live with their families on the estate, with more people added during the shooting season.
He added: “As well as providing these jobs and houses, we also support the local economy to a huge degree.
“Businesses that directly benefit include garages, laundrettes, internet providers, butchers, florists and general builders to name but a few. All work or suppliers are sourced locally wherever possible.”
Andrew revealed that millions of pounds have been invested in recent years on the estate and its people.
He said: “We are leaders in what we do, simply because we provide more than just the shoot.
“Our hospitality accommodation, and attention to detail are second to none.
“I have managed estates from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to Inverary Castle in Argyll.
“Glenogil is by far the best when it comes to providing the all-round experience.”
Andrew said most of the guests for grouse shooting are from the UK, and they return year after year.
“I am sure that as well as the hospitality, the beautiful Angus Glens plays a large part in that.
“From one of the lunch huts on the moor you can see the Montrose Basin and everything in between – a truly marvellous sight.
“Whilst we shoot a smaller number of grouse compared to some other estates, we will only go ahead with the season if the numbers are there.
“For instance, if the birds have a poor breeding season, we will cancel all grouse shooting days.
“We are back on track with full bookings for the pheasants and partridges this year, however we had to cancel all grouse shooting as we did not have the number of birds to make it sustainable for conservation.
“The pheasants and partridges are very popular as they are a more affordable alternative to grouse shooting and, again we have a very high number of returning guests each year.”
Andrew said Covid-19 had a huge impact on the estate in 2020, with very few days available for shooting.
“However, we retained all staff and did not claim any financial help, which I thought was the correct way to go. All staff were kept on full wages,” he said.
Andrew explained that there were several factors that have acted against red grouse this year generally across Scotland.
“The long spell of deep snow we experienced from January through to April meant breeding pairs did not emerge in the best condition.
“April saw some of the hardest frosts recorded for a very long time and the heather suffered as a consequence.
“May was one of the coldest and wettest on record which did not encourage any early bug life, essential to young grouse in their first couple of weeks.”
Andrew said the estate’s conservation programme is set out to ensure the health of the moor in relation to biodiversity and the species it supports.
“For instance, our last independent count noted 103 different bird species, of which, if I remember correctly, eight were birds of prey.
“We also hold high numbers of wading birds, not to mention excellent numbers of black grouse.”
Andrew added that the estate’s forest plan provides a clear view forward over the next 10 years and provides for a sound felling and replanting programme.
Asked about what the future could hold for Glenogil, Andrew replied: “Our greatest threat is from those who do not understand the business and way of life that estates such as Glenogil deliver.
“Some politicians and members of the public are unaware of the full facts behind such an organisation.
“We are not living in the 19th century, but very much in the 21st century, with all the legislation and best practice to which we willingly adhere,” he added.
“I have been involved in estates all my life to some degree.
“I can honestly say that without the likes of Glenogil such places as the Angus Glens and many other rural areas would be devoid of dedicated working men and women and instead be made over to the holiday/second-home crowd.
“I doubt they would invest nearly as much, year round, either financially or from the heart.”