Hunting Haven – Park Farm

Park-farm-5Taking a vacation usually means leaving your air rifle at home – unless you’re holidaying at Park Cottage! Situated on a working farm in unspoilt countryside on the Somerset/Wiltshire border, this secluded haven is an airgun shooter’s dream come true. It’s also the perfect place to take a break with a partner.

Roe Norman (right) is co-owner of Park Farm Cottage

Roe Norman (right) is co-owner of Park Farm Cottage

Owners Roe and Jo Norman started offering airgun shooting holidays nine years ago, and they’ve proved so popular that the husband-and-wife team now have a loyal base of regular visitors who love the combination of four-star accommodation, peaceful surroundings and, best of all, the freedom to head out with their airguns whenever they like.

Mario Spiteri enjoying some range time

Mario Spiteri enjoying some range time

As a base, Park Cottage is cosy and fully appointed , and has its own garden that adjoins a paddock with a shooting bench and a wide variety of knockdown and spinning targets. Also on the farm is Tower Guns – yes, this holiday even has its own, on-site gun shop! It’s well-stocked with airguns, accessories and ammo, so there’s no worry about running out of supplies after some heavy plinking sessions. Roe can even loan you a gun if anything goes wrong with your own combo.

Rather than encouraging groups of camo-clad hunters just out for traipse over some land with their guns, a Park Farm Cottage holiday is geared more to responsible, insured shooters staying with their partners – and it’s particularly ideal for father/son breaks. Shooting comes free to guests, who have the run of more than 100 acres comprising grassland, woods and ponds. Visitors can expect to encounter rabbits, woodpigeons, squirrels, crows and magpies, plus rats around the farm buildings during the colder months. Roe, your ‘ghillie’, can also organise visits to other local farms, along with game shooting and deer stalking, plus you can book airgun hunting instruction by prior arrangement.

Mario and Mat head out on a hunting foray

Mario and Mat head out on a hunting foray

As this idyllic venue is right on my doorstep, I was more than happy to take up Roe’s recent invitation to join his high-profile guest, Mario Spiteri, on a hunting trip. Mario happens to be the Maltese director general for rural development and aquaculture, and he has a real soft spot for Park Cottage; this was his ninth stay, this time joined by wife Eunice and their daughter Sara.

Though the 72 air rifles he owns have power levels up to 280ft/lb, Mario was packing a rather more modest Theoben Rapid 7 in 12ft/lb format on our outing. Before heading off hunting in the woods, we checked zero on the plinking range – and had such a great time flipping spinners and smacking over knockdowns, we could have stayed there all afternoon!

In case you think ‘visitor shooting’ at Park Farm would take its toll on the pest species, I can assure you that there’s plenty of quarry around to keep hunters occupied. Roe explained that a lot of his visitors are, indeed, happy to spend the entire week on the plinking range – and when you consider the beautiful countryside walks and host of other attractions that guests can enjoy, the place probably doesn’t receive any more pressure than your average shooting permission.

The holding is surrounded by open countryside and dense woods, so pests quickly home-in on the farm. The feed Roe puts out for pheasants also attracts vermin. We certainly saw plenty of woodpigeons winging their way along the woodland edge during our warm-up session, and we also heard the calls of crows and magpies.

Mario takes up a sitting position overlooking one of Park Farm’s many rabbit warrens

Mario takes up a sitting position overlooking one of Park Farm’s many rabbit warrens

Mario and I started off with a roving approach, trekking along the pathways through the mature woodlands. He claimed the first shot after spotting a squirrel in an oak tree on the edge of an open ride flanking a pheasant release pen. He was on it in an instant, and quickly toppled the bushy-tailed rodent with a clean head shot.

Continuing along the ride, we put up several woodpigeons that had been gorging on a heavy crop of acorns. There’s plenty of quarry at Park Farm, but the shooting still presents a decent challenge. The woodies were clearly spooked by the sound of our approach, so we decided to split up and hide in the gloom of one of the blocks of woodland. A silent ambush, we hoped, would prove more effective than a leisurely stroll.

An abundance of oak and hazel makes for good squirrel habitat, and I spotted a bushy-tail creeping through the treetops about 30 minutes after I’d settled into position. The greedy little squirrel was too busy to notice me as it munched its way through a bumper crop of acorns and a solid strike to the head sent it tumbling into a thick tangle of brambles and stinging nettles. I was pleased to open my account, but its place of rest rendered the squirrel irretrievable, much to my frustration.

Over the next hour, a woodpigeon landed just out of range and a magpie went bouncing through the treetops, but refused to linger long enough for me to get a bead on it. A distant ‘pap’ from Mario’s direction suggested that he was having more luck. Sure enough, when I clambered out from my hiding place and trudged through the woods to meet him, he was proudly wielding the corpse of a crow that had fallen to the Rapid 7.

Mat attempts to bag a Park Farm bunny before nightfall

Mat attempts to bag a Park Farm bunny before nightfall

With an hour or so of light remaining, we chose to move across to the sheep fields, where Roe had suggested we might bag a bunny before nightfall. I reckon we’d have seen more woodies and squirrels as the sun set over the woods, but the chance of a rabbit sounded good to me.

Our arrival at the sheep fields was a little later than planned, and we spooked a couple of rabbits that were already out feeding. Nonetheless, the sighting confirmed that we were certainly in the right place.

A crow and a squirrel fall to Mario’s Theoben Rapid 7

A crow and a squirrel fall to Mario’s Theoben Rapid 7

I settled down on the edge of a kale crop where an elevated position gave me a good view of the hedgerow the departing rabbits had disappeared into. Mario opted for a sitting position a little further along the hillside, from where he could cover an equally rabbitty-looking stretch of hedge, plus a derelict farm building that is used as a lookout by crows before they swoop down to scavenge among the sheep.

We ran out of light before the rabbits ventured back out, but Mario managed to drop a late crow from the barn roof. Though our bag was a modest one, we’d enjoyed a great afternoon in the beautiful countryside around Park Farm.

We’d also seen a lot of quarry, and would probably have accounted for more if we hadn’t been talking so much. Not that our tally seemed to matter to Mario; he was heading back to the cosy cottage for dinner with his family, and had the rest of his week-long shooting holiday to look forward to. 

ACCOMMODATION AND RATES

Park-farm-5Park Farm is located in South Brewham, Somerset (BA10 0LA). The self-catering cottage where you stay is a converted grain store/stable comprising a twin bedroom, along with a sofa-bed in the main living area. Complete with exposed beams and a wood-burning stove, it oozes character – but guests are also provided with the usual mod cons, including TV/video, dishwasher, cooker, microwave and washing machine. There’s even a gun cabinet! Smoking is prohibited inside the cottage, and pets are not allowed. Park-Farm-8

Nearby attractions include a great local pub within walking distance, Longleat House and Safari Park, Glastonbury Tor, Wincanton Race and Golf courses, Wookey Hole Caves and the National Trust’s Stourhead House and Gardens. In short, there’s plenty to keep a non-shooting partner occupied while you’re out with the gun.

Weekly rates for two people start from £365 off-peak, rising to £430. Price is inclusive of bedding, towels, electric, heating and wood for burner. Full details available on request.

CONTACT INFO

T: 01749 812230

W: www.parkfarmcottage.com

E: enquiries@parkfarmcottage.com

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13 comments on “Hunting Haven – Park Farm
  1. Gerard sedgley says:

    Hi have you got availability me and the wife in March for a week thank you.

  2. Brian A Herron says:

    When would be the best time of year to book a long w/e to be garenteed a bountyful bag im 60 next year my boys want to treat me as we are all air gunners many thanks Brian

  3. Mr Roy Brassington says:

    I am writing to enquire what dates you have available for a cottage for 2 males in a twin bedded room. for a week in July or August also which dates are off peak thank you.

  4. catherine fisk says:

    Hi I wondered if you could advise of available dates for August/ September for myself and my partner to come and stay for a week?

    Thanks in advance
    Catherine fisk

  5. Maurice cowley says:

    Just been to this place absolutely a waist of time if you are interested in pest control,it has been shot to death .we could not find anything to shoot at ,to me the owner has lost interest in customer satisfaction , just wants your money.

    • Mat Manning says:

      Hi Maurice

      When did you visit? I visit Park Farm very regularly (was there yesterday) and I’ve never noticed a lack of pests – the area is surrounded by thousands of acres of woodland so I can’t imagine it ever being shot-out. Did you stay for a whole week? Just like any new permission, it could well take a few days to work out where and how to approach it to get the best from it.
      I’m also very surprised to hear you complaining about the owner. Roe Norman is one of the most knowledgeable and helpful shooters I have ever met. Most of the guests I’ve met at Park Farm share this view, and seem to keep going back.

  6. David says:

    Well now – what a super place to visit – we stayed the week. Peace, quiet, no-one to bother you – just what the doctor ordered. Recommendations… by the bucket laod. Want to know more – take a look at this…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6piFKJWsjXk
    and this…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCVLeg0-hS4

    Did we have a good week – MAGIC is the word.

    Cheers: City Boy turned Country Boy

  7. Philip Hill says:

    Hi, my wife has finally agreed to let me have a shooting holiday on one condition and that is as long as both her and the dog come(very small dog)so my question is……. are wives allowed, no sorry that was a joke. Are dogs allowed.

  8. ian laidler says:

    Mr. Cowley’s comments are unjustified, he was there less than 24 hours, hardly time to unpack, zero his rifle or get the lay of the Land. Mr. Norman gives sound advice on where to shoot. He also advises Patience is the key, learn how to blend into the land. He is an expert in field craft.
    I often visit his farm and having just followed Mr. Cowley on holiday and knowing the lay of the land well I managed a bag of 9 Squirrel, 2 Rabbits, 1 and 2 Pigeon on the first day, this was me just getting warmed up for a superb weeks shooting. It’s all about listening, blending and patience Mr. Cowley !

  9. ian laidler says:

    Mat’s comments are so true, I visit regularly and have got to know the lay of the land and where the hot spots are.
    Mr. Norman gives free sound advice on all aspects of hunting and field craft, his first and foremost advice is patience and blending into your surroundings.
    I do not believe derogatory comments were given by someone who had even bothered to listen and thought the quarry should be sat on the patio for him to shoot. It is a superb shoot in a fantastic location

  10. Jonas says:

    We have been coming to Park Farm cottage for many years and being a keen air gunner, our annual holidays there are the highlight of my (air gunning) year.

    I have never experience a shortage of pest, but obviously field craft and marksmanship are the key to success.

    Roe has always been a great help in pointing out the vermin hotspots and advising on the appropriate technique/approach.

    What makes Park Farm cottage such a special place is the sheer beauty of the landscape, the hospitality of Roe and his family and the fact that you can just roam the land undisturbed. There is no better way to wind down.

    If you are into air gunning and appreciate the outdoors, there is no other place…

  11. ian laidler says:

    having just returned from another week at Parkfarm (30th April 2017) what a cracking time I had, the foliage was still light on the trees making Pigeon, Crow and Squirrel visible targets. There was an abundance of these and my frying pan and the freezer were kept full. As far as bunnies went, not my most popular dish and the next visitor was trying out his new night vision scope, I decided not to shoot any, however I could easily have had twenty in the bag during daylight and the sign said at night there would be plenty for him to fill his bag. Magpie’s were a plenty I only got one, my next visit will be on Jay and Magpie, a true challenge. I chose to sit in field corners with my flask and snicker bars for up to four hours at time, changing my time in each spot on a daily basis, this worked really well, Squirrel coming at me from three directions, Crow and Pigeon landing above at regular intervals, the none shooting time was spent watching the non target wildlife, numerous types of small bird, lots of Woodpeckers tapping for insect, Fox, Deer even spotted a Weasel. Funniest event was when nature called, I checked around me, nothing, stood up got started when all of a sudden a Squirrel appeared twenty yards away, dangling from a 1 inch branch by it’s tail, back legs spread wide, eating the new leaf at the d of a thin twig, needless to say perfect presentation but he got away !
    Many thanks to Roe and Joe for their hospitality and Roe’s sound advice and help.

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