30 August 2002

Brace of moors on market

THE Glorious Twelth – the most important date in the calendar for keen grouse shots – got off to a mixed start this year, according to sporting property specialist CKD Kennedy Macpherson.

Director Jonathan Kennedy said: "For most it will not be a vintage season but there will still be some good shooting." However, this lack of birds is unlikely to put off potential purchasers for two large grouse moors that have just come to the market.

Clark Scott Harden is selling Knarsdale and Asholme Moors covering 15,000 acres near Alston, Northumberland, and agent Tom Warde-Aldam reckons not knowing exactly what will happen from one season to another is one of the enigmas of owning a grouse moor. In the shooting world grouse are considered the ultimate experience, he adds.

The moors are considered to offer some of the UKs best shooting with a bag of about 5000 brace in 2001. The guide price of £4m plus includes the sporting rights over Knarsdale covering 10,163 acres on a 999-year lease, the freehold of two tenanted farms on the same moor, and a 15-year lease on Asholme (3835 acres).

In Co Durham, Smiths Gore and FPDSavills have just launched the 11,000-acre Muggleswick Estate, near Edmundbyers. Owned by the trustees of the Lambton estate, it is on the market in a bid to diversify the estates investments and is valued at £6m. The 10-year average bag is 1700 brace, and two let farms and a vacant stock farm are part of the package.

Because so few grouse moors come up for sale – more than two a year would be unusual – valuing them is not a simple task. But Geoffery van Cutsem of Savills says the recent sale of part of the Allenheads Moor confirms that prime grouse moors will fetch in excess of £3000/brace.

Meanwhile, north of the border, Stuart Young, factor of the Dunecht Estates in Aberdeenshire, is warning that the right-to-buy for tenants, proposed by the Scottish Executive, could jeopardise the future of some of Scotlands best grouse moors.

"If a moor was broken up into individual owner-occupied units, the resulting fragmentation would see the loss of the wide benefits integrated management offers. Grouse moors are widely recognised to be rich in bio-diversity. It would be irresponsible to see them damaged by misconceived legislation." &#42