For me and our team at Linhope, August 12th is the culmination of 245 days of sweat and toil.

As soon as December 10th quietly comes and goes,  we as a team must pick up our feet and our heads and focus all our efforts wholeheartedly on our target, “THE GLORIOUS TWELFTH”, and the short time we have to prepare for that most special day.

Our team will battle the elements day and night through wet, dry, hot and cold weather to protect and look after all wildlife in the hills, providing habitat and protection for all kinds of species. If we are very very lucky, Mother Nature will reward us with a little surplus of lagopus lagopus as reward for all of our efforts throughout the previous 35 weeks.

When the glorious of mornings arrive, we will pull on our new tweeds and boots and head up onto the moors in among the heather and pray for a cool gentle northwesterly breeze.

As we line out, acquaintances are rekindled from the previous season. In the distance the guns are getting into the butts and flags are unrolled. This is the most nervous part for all keepers. You start to question everything you have done in the run up to the biggest day of your working year. You hear the cry of “flag up” passing down the line to start the new season, and then a few minutes later in the distance you hear gun fire. That is when, as a gamekeeper, you can relax a little and enjoy the true meaning of the Glorious Twelfth.

John Queen, Head Gamekeeper at Linhope Estate