48 years a ghillie and gamekeeper...

24th August 2018

We were delighted when one of our longest-serving members of staff, Colin Espie (Head Ghillie and Gamekeeper at Glen Tanar), was presented with, not just one, but two ‘long service awards’, from two prestigious organisations, namely the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) and Scottish Lands and Estates (SLE). These were in recognition of his service and contribution to ‘Country Sports’ in Scotland over the last 48 years! So, who better to feature in our next instalment of ‘Meet the Team’?

COLIN ESPIE deer stalker and ghillie
Colin Espie

Meet the team - Colin Espie, Head Ghillie & Gamekeeper

When did you first start working at Glen Tanar, and in what position?

I first stated working on Glen Tanar as a sixteen-year-old trainee keeper on 1st June 1970. Moving on to the Estate and staying in the ‘Kennels Bothy’, the very same bothy that my grandfather had occupied in 1926.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is said that variety is the spice of life and working in the Glen certainly offers that in the many sides of wildlife management. I have often been asked which side of the work I enjoy the most, the stalking or fishing? My answer is always the same…. each to its own season!

Colin & his fellow ghillies on the riverbank

Can you describe what a typical day’s work for you involves?

I can honestly say, for me there is no such thing as ‘a typical day’s work’. There is a great deal of seasonality to the work I undertake, whether on the river or elsewhere on the Estate.

During the lengthy days of summer, my day may start as early as 3.30am with roe deer stalking clients followed by a few hours advising fishing clients on the river.

Spring-time may involve waiting for that elusive fox that has been taking new-born lambs until the early hours, and other aspects of wildlife management.

Winter means being out in all sorts of weather, which can provide its own special moments! Other days may simply involve strimming river banks, hill track maintenance, burning heather or general estate work.

Do you have a ‘speciality’ that you are known for among your clients and peers?

No speciality as such, but I do like to see the lighter side of any situation and making people smile is always good.

Colin Espie Sle Award 2
Colin receiving his SLE award from Michael Bruce

Which is your favourite Glen Tanar beat/pool and why?

Over the years I have ‘ghillied’ on four Glen Tanar beats and have been fortunate to have had very productive seasons on all of them at one time or another. My favourite pool over the years has to be the Logie pool, on the Deecastle beat. Unfortunately, Storm Frank (on 31 December 2015) changed the topography of the river somewhat, throwing up a few challenges. However, I still have a soft spot for that pool, and I even caught a 13lb salmon from it this season!

Your most favourite memory of your time at Glen Tanar, so far?

I have many interesting tales from the river side of large fish caught and many others ‘that got away’ – far too many of both to mention here! Some days have been more productive than others, but over the years many of the fishers have become my friends, as well as clients.

I really enjoy being up in the hills, time spent there (whether by myself or with a like-minded group of people) on a fine day is time never wasted. The sight and sound of the red deer stags roaring at each other as evening sets in is a very special experience.

Ultimately, my two favourite days during my time at Glen Tanar were the days my son and daughter were born, both of whom I am very proud.

Colin2 002
Colin showing off his SGA award at the Scone Game Fair, with Alison Espie & Michael Bruce

One of Colin’s long-standing clients, Peter Horsburgh, has been fishing with Colin since 1975. He adds…

"Colin really has been the ghillie par excellence as far as I’m concerned. Always optimistic and unfailingly good natured, he’s always more than happy to help, to guide and give good advice, without ever being intrusive.

He has an almost intuitive, expert and detailed knowledge of the beats and how to fish them under every conceivable condition. Of course, an outstandingly good fisherman too; always open to new ideas. A wonderful and funny raconteur, with a seriously infectious laugh and a cracking sense of humour.

I feel very lucky to count both him, and his family, as my friends."


Colin in action, out on the hill

And finally...

Stay tuned for our next instalment in our ‘Meet the Team ‘series, to find out more about the human-side of life on Glen Tanar Estate!