As a Spanish clay and hunting aficionada, who has lived in both Sweden and England, and now moved back to Madrid, I have had the pleasure of experiencing the unique shooting traditions and captivating landscapes of these countries. I haven't travelled as a tourist to these countries, I actually lived and worked there, so I do have a perspective that I believe gives me the authority to write about this topic after all these years and experiences you have all seen on my social media. I have met some of the top CEOs and MDs of the best shooting brands, estates and clubs in Europe, I have shot competitions and had lots of fun shooting at their clubs getting a very interesting perspective on shooting across Europe and its different traditions. Through my Instagram account, I have connected with a vibrant community too, particularly in England, Sweden and Spain, where the love for shooting, countryside living, and the allure of the English country lifestyle is palpable. Today, I want to take you on a journey exploring the historical ties between England and Spain in the shooting world. Additionally, we'll delve into the Spanish estates that have attracted prominent figures from England, allowing them to immerse themselves in the splendor of Spanish shooting culture, and the reasons why some of them come back here, even if those visits are off the books.
The Historical Ties: Throughout the centuries, England and Spain have shared a fascinating history, which extends to the realm of shooting. In the early 19th century, British sportsmen embarked on hunting excursions to Spain, introducing the English shooting community to the rich tapestry of Spanish traditions. This cultural exchange laid the foundation for a merging of practices, techniques, and an appreciation for the countryside pursuit we all hold dear. For instance, when clays didn't exist, and during the Victorian Era, England was the main exporter of live pigeon shooting, a sport that is still very popular amongst my fellow Spaniards– with all that controversy that comes with it.
Important Figures and Their Spanish Escapades:
a) King George V: Among the notable figures who embraced Spanish shooting experiences was King George V of the United Kingdom. Together with his son, Prince George, they embarked on hunting trips that shed light on the allure of Spanish hunting traditions. b) King Charles III and Prince William: Continuing the royal tradition, they have shown a keen interest in shooting. While their specific visits to Spanish estates may remain private, their passion for the sport suggests a likely exploration of Spanish shooting experiences.
c) Sir Ian Botham: The legendary cricketer Sir Ian Botham, known for his love of shooting, has been spotted participating in shooting events and excursions in Spain. Additionally, various celebrities and public figures from England have been drawn to Spanish shooting experiences, captivated by the exceptional offerings and cultural fusion. d) Prince Harry: The Duke of Sussex, has shown a fondness for hunting in the past, and has been spotted participating in shooting activities. While his specific visits to Spain for hunting are not widely known, it is possible that he has explored the Spanish hunting scene, given his interest in the sport. e) James Middleton: The younger brother of Catherine, Princess of Wales, is an avid hunter and has been involved in shooting activities. While his hunting experiences in Spain may not be publicly documented, it is plausible that he has ventured to Spanish estates for shooting. f) David Beckham: The former professional footballer David Beckham has been linked to hunting and shooting activities in the past. Although his involvement in hunting in Spain is not extensively documented, his love for outdoor pursuits suggests that he may have explored shooting opportunities in the country. g) Jeremy Clarkson (my favourite after watching his TV series): The television presenter and motoring journalist is known for his passion for shooting and countryside pursuits. While his hunting experiences in Spain may not be specifically highlighted, it is possible that he has ventured to Spanish estates for shooting, given his interest in the sport. I mean, if you were Jeremy, wouldn't you have come to Spain for a good and nice partridge shoot under the Spanish sun?
**Please note that hunting activities, especially those of celebrities, are often conducted with privacy, and detailed information about their specific experiences in Spain may be limited or undisclosed. These facts are taken from the internet from websites who claim these celebrities have probably been shooting in Spain**
3. The Esteemed Spanish Estates: So where do these English and Spanish ties take place? Spain has been (together with France and Italy) one of the preferred destinations for the English due to having the longest partridge season in Europe and also because of its weather, and here is a list of some of the best Spanish fincas often visited by English celebrities: a) Las Ahijaderas: Counts with multiple SCI awards and is situated in the province of Salamanca, Las Ahijaderas is a revered Spanish estate celebrated for its remarkable driven partridge shooting. Its vast hunting areas, coupled with its commitment to maintaining a high standard of sporting ethics and conservation, have made it a favored destination for shooting aficionados. The estate's reputation and allure have likely enticed famous figures, including those from England, to experience its exceptional shooting offerings. It is also quite well known among the Swedish elite– I know this first hand, but that is a story for another day. I did have the pleasure of spending 8 days there shooting partridge and it is probably–to this day– my favourite estate, where I have had the best time and made some really good friends. The climate and the accommodation was just perfect and you have my whole trip there in my instagram highlights. It is run by a family with strong ties to bullfighting and very strong Spanish traditions, the food is just glorious (made by a Le Cordon Bleu graduate) and if you are really looking for a genuine Spanish hunt that respects and follows English traditions but allows you to dive into Spain's heritage, this is the place to go, the service is outstanding. The owners are good friends, so if after watching my stories you'd like to meet him just send me a DM on instagram :)
b) Las Lomas de Fuensaúco: just 45 minutes away from Madrid, and with a beautiful surrounding typical of Madrid (yellow grass and mostly oak trees, english ivy and other bushes). They offer among other things partridge shoots and there I had one of the best parties I have ever had at a private hunting estate: they put together in a room young hunters and of course the English made us all go crazy dancing and drinking– you have it in my highlights too.
c) La Nava: Located in the province of Ciudad Real, La Nava is a prestigious estate– many say it is the best in Spain but I haven't had the pleasure to compare it with the other amazing estates I have been to– and it offers a wide range of shooting experiences. From driven partridge shooting to driven red-legged partridge shooting and pigeon shooting, La Nava provides shooters with exceptional opportunities. Its picturesque landscapes, meticulously managed game populations, and luxurious accommodations have attracted shooting enthusiasts from around the world, including prominent figures from England. It has it own runway, so if you come in private jet there is no need for transfers or shuttles, you go straight to your shooting! They are also chosen by many luxury brands and corporates as the main location to film TV commercials or take photographs for brand catalogues. I have actually spotted some premium brands taking influencers unrelated to hunting or shooting on a safari to La Nava, to take photographs of its wildlife.
d) Finca La Cuesta: Nestled in the captivating region of Extremadura, Finca La Cuesta has garnered international recognition for its exceptional driven partridge shooting, and just like La Nava, many people argue that this is the absolute best estate in Spain, but again, I haven't had the pleasure of comparing it. Its breathtaking landscapes and well-managed game populations have lured shooters, including those from England, seeking extraordinary hunting experiences. I have seen many of my followers posting pictures here and I have good friends who are regular guests here, so I can only imagine how beautiful it is.
To sum up, the historical ties between England and Spain in the shooting world have cultivated a shared appreciation for the pursuit of game, camaraderie, and the splendor of the countryside. Prominent figures, from royalty to celebrities, have indulged in Spanish shooting experiences, enticed by the allure of exceptional estates and the fusion of cultural traditions. As we continue to celebrate the best of both worlds, let us embrace the remarkable heritage and connections that unite us as shooting enthusiasts. I just love this connection between England and Spain and how one complements each other: when the English get tired of their weather, they come here to enjoy some sunny shooting, and when the Spanish get tired of the sun, we take a 2 hour flight to enjoy the green lush fields in England and don't mind the rain at all. See you on instagram! @myshootingjourney