Our rolling downland provides the perfect topography for top quality partridge and pheasant shooting. Our Ballington shoot covers around 1,500 acres with the ground well suited to early partridges and mixed days later in the season. A purpose-built lodge was built in the middle of the shoot providing a fantastic venue for meeting and lunches. Stockton Shoot covers our home farm at Stockton & Codford and provides excellent partridge and more traditional woodland pheasant shooting. Visit stocktonshoot.co.uk for more pictures and links
Over the last fourteen years, we have developed key areas of the farm into Higher Level Stewardship and more recently Higher Tier Stewardship. Our current scheme, which will run until 2024, has a good mix of features including grassland enhancement with wildflowers, preservation of scheduled monuments, and enhancement of our four Sites of Special Scientific Interest. We have planted 30 ha of winter bird food and nectar mix plots right across the farm, and we have thousands of metres of floristically enhanced grass margins. We have noticed a significant boost to the wild bird, butterfly and small mammal population during the life of these schemes. In order to maximise the wildlife benefits of our initiatives, we have helped found a group called Wylye Valley Farmers (wylyevalleyfarmers.org). This is a group of farmers covering 20,000 acres of the Wylye Valley area from our farm at the eastern edge to Warminster at the western edge. This group enables linking of habitat schemes in order to make the habitats more effective. Several initiatives have been launched, such as elm planting and nectar provision.
Across the farm as a whole, there are 220 hectares (540 acres) of woodland. This ranges from commercial forestry on the southern end of the farm at Stockton where there is deep clay soil, ideal for tree growing, to amenity and sporting woodland, and then wetland trees in the meadows. The commercial forestry was replanted in the 1950s by Michael Stratton and is now producing some good quality timber. The amenity and sporting areas are partly commercial, however, they are managed more now to promote game birds and wildlife. There is a range of timber produced, with the best quality sold into the timber trade, medium quality for firewood, and all the poorest go for woodchip.
The River Wylye runs through the land. This is part of the River Avon catchment SSSI and is a nationally important habitat for chalk river ecosystems. There is a mile of river at Codford and ½ mile at Ballington. In the last five years, the whole stretch has seen considerable investment in order to provide better wild trout and grayling habitat, and young fish numbers have risen considerably.
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