Fishing, Shooting and much more on unique Estate

Wrackleford Estate is set in the lush Frome valley near Dorchester and offers some of the best fly fishing and shooting (game and simulated), thanks to its unique position and topography.

Having passed into the fifth and sixth generation of the family, current owners Katie and Oliver Pope told The Game Fair Trade News all about the estate.

TGF: Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the Wrackleford Estate and your part in it?
Oliver Pope: The estate has been in the hands of the family for six generations, initially its acquisition and expansion was driven by Alfred Pope on his success in developing the family brewing interests of Eldridge Pope in Dorset.
It was Alfred who, whilst being a hunting man, made the unusual decision at that time to plant trees on the valley sides and top of banks rather than creating warm fox covets in the more sheltered areas.
This foresight now means that the Estate has many well-placed plantations strategically placed, overlooking the deep chalk valleys that provide the exceptional sport the estate is well known for. Each of the generations has added its mark and it has been in our stewardship with our young family for the last 15 years. The children have grown up at Wrackleford and help out in areas as they are able.

TGF: What’s the shooting like on the estate?
OP: The estate has four separate chalk valleys, broadly parallel to each other which offer both a stunning location and also really sporting pheasants and partridges driven from the now mature woodland planted by Alfred Pope at the turn of the 19th century.
The shoot days are centred on the estate’s Shooting Lodge, a property with distant views south over the Dorset countryside. With its large open plan layout, inglenook fireplace and exquisite bedrooms all recently redecorated it makes for a perfect package.

TGF: What options are there for the fly fisher?
OP: The Frome is the westernmost chalkstream in the country and the estate offers seven chalkstream beats and a stillwater lake for fly anglers.  The beats are well maintained and regularly stocked during the season.  Guests have many options, from day tickets to fishing holidays, staying in one of the estate’s properties close to the river on either a self-catering or B&B basis.

TGF: What is your favourite part of the estate?
OP: I don’t necessarily have a favourite spot but there are lots of areas which have happy memories associated with them – either from simply the splendour of the views south towards the coast (remarkably the views south-west have barely any light pollution at all – amazing in such an overpopulated country as this), or from happy memories of family parties or sporting forays with a gun or fishing rod.
I enjoy the wider landscape and how it has been marked by not only the recent generations but also all the historical events that have happened here throughout the ages – whether it is the ancient Iron Age village that sits on Grimstone Down, the remains of a Roman villa and road system, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s railway viaduct or, more recently, the site of where the remains of a German Stuka dive bomber crashed during the last war.
I am no historian but the history of this land touches you everywhere. I think it is the things of longevity that I enjoy the most – the things that do not change year on year in particular the trees. There are quite a few, in my mind, quite special trees – some of which are remarkable for their size and age being planted 200 years ago, or for some it is just their positioning dominating a valley.

TGF: How did you cope during the various lockdowns? Were you still able to run some of your activities?
OP: The pandemic created a very strange and unsettling period – initially we were dealing with all the refunds / postponements and cancelations of guests who had been due to visit as it happened at the beginning of the fishing season and main holiday rental period.
It was very strange having an almost empty estate whereas normally there are lots of people around requiring all sorts of different attention.
Once we had overcome the initial shock of closure we then needed to develop plans to deal with as many eventualities as possible as to when things reopened and what implications and knock on effects that would have.
All the normal maintenance and works planned (we undertake most of these ourselves) continued. At that time we were doing a full refurbishment of the Shooting Lodge, which was able to continue apace.

All three of our children were able to isolate in Dorset so they each helped with different jobs that needed to be completed.
The shooting season is planned months in advance and this caused the largest financial risk and headache. As a shoot we need to commit to the purchase and rearing of all our game birds in the spring and, consequently, we need to commit to most of our costs for the year at that stage.
I contacted all our regular shooting teams and, largely due to their support and encouragement, went ahead with this outlay not knowing whether we would be able to deliver the days.

TGF: What is it about The Game Fair that made you book for this year?
OP: What we offer at Wrackleford has significantly grown over the last 10 years or so and we felt that The Game Fair was the right channel to be able to promote and show people what we are doing.

TGF: What can visitors to your Game Fair stand expect this July?
OP: We would like to introduce all our activities to people at The Game Fair and particularly, after the last year of confinement, it seems like a great opportunity to be able speak directly to people and showcase what we do.
We will be offering a number of prizes to give visitors to our stand the opportunity to win, including game and simulated shooting, and the opportunity to come and fly fish on the river.

Join Over 100,000 Fellow Attendees & Visitors

Sign up to our Newsletter today.