One of the undisputed joys of any holiday is the break it offers from the routine. At Gleneagles, surrounded by the beauty of the Scottish wilderness, visitors are invited to step away from their daily life and immerse themselves in the great outdoors, with a life-affirming range of activities, spanning shooting and fishing, off-road driving and forays into the mountains to choose from, as well as the opportunity for a close encounter with Gleneagles’ impressive collection of birds of prey.
“Falconry is your best chance of getting up close and personal with magnificent birds of prey that you’d normally only see from a distance,” says Richard Scott, who fell in love with falconry at a young age and – having originally joined as a volunteer – now heads up Gleneagles’ falconry school. One of the foremost locations for falconry in Scotland, the school’s expert team of instructors offer group and individual bird of prey experiences tailored to suit novices and experienced handlers alike. “There aren’t many places where you’re able to enjoy a hands-on experience. Here, guests have the chance to handle and fly them, learn their traits and habits in the wild and witness what they do best when we go hunting.”
A tradition dating back four thousand years, falconry – the ancient art of catching wild quarry with a trained bird of prey – has a vivid history with global origins. While accounts vary as to whether it first originated in Asia or the Middle East, there are scores of stories detailing fishermen using cormorants to dive for fish, Iranian royalty hunting with falcons and Mongolians on the steppe using eagles to catch foxes and wolves.