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Friday 9th November 2012


THE FERRARI MACNAB

Ferrari FF, meet your 'Ronseal test' and a chance to prove those shooting brake pretensions properly


"The FF is the ultimate shooting brake," says the man from Ferrari, a bold statement and challenge in one. Can it really hack it from field to stream? Can it even get into the field in the first place? The only way to find out is to attempt a Macnab. With a PH-worthy twist.

Ferraris and firearms - a winning combination!
Ferraris and firearms - a winning combination!
A Macnab involves shooting a red stag, a brace of grouse and catching a salmon, all on the same day. To make life more interesting we'll stalk our stag in Cornwall, shoot our grouse in Yorkshire and then catch our salmon on the UK's most northerly salmon river, the Thurso. A Land's End to John O'Groats Macnab, celebrating the best of British fieldsports on a 2,300 mile round trip. In a Ferrari.

Loading a car worth more than my house with wellies, guns and fishing rods does feel a bit odd but the FF swallows it, camera gear and a couple of dozen Red Bulls without fuss. If Ferrari's PR team is regretting the offer, it is too polite to say so. Saying that, few of the journalists they deal with are so heavily armed...

No Dom, you're not allowed to shoot surfers
No Dom, you're not allowed to shoot surfers
Day one: stag
If disturbing the 5am peace in rural Cornwall in a car this loud is anti-social our genial guide, Scott Milne, is more concerned about its mud-plugging ability. On his advice we decamp to his 4x4 for the last stage across swampy fields.

My Blaser R8 rifle bolts together in seconds from its hard case. However, our dawn raid is scuppered by fog and although we hear stags bellowing in the mist, we can't stalk in for a shot. Our only option is to return later in the day.

We meet up with Scott once more in a block of woodland. There are crops all around damaged by the deer and a local stately home is losing rare plants to the raiding reds. He's keen to catch up on his cull plan and as he explains our options, a young stag grazes out just 100 yards away.

Is that a Lamborghini owner over there?
Is that a Lamborghini owner over there?
The Blaser does its job and the stag is on the grass. While Scott takes the beast to the local venison dealer we jump in the Ferrari and head north. Another tank of super later we hack another 250 miles off our journey and stop north of Birmingham for a late supper and pint.

Day two: grouse
The Ferrari quickly blows away the fatigue of another 5am start and devours 90 miles of motorway with ease before rousing itself as we spear east across the Peak District. It's effortlessly, monstrously quick.

We reach the private grouse moor just as dawn breaks and the heather-clad hills glow golden. Ahead, a cloudburst births an enormous rainbow. As new dawns go, this is one of the more spectacular.

Sometimes 5am starts aren't all bad
Sometimes 5am starts aren't all bad
Our contact, head keeper Jim Sutton, is ready and waiting in estate tweeds, his trusty spaniel raring to go. As we hit the moor the rain comes lashing in on gale force winds and what grouse we see are lifting far ahead. I miss my first two opportunities and Jim is starting to develop a look of pity. The heather is hard work and my cameraman is soon knackered. Pressure's on.

Another brace lift, I fire and to my immense relief one of the grouse folds and drops. After a tense search with the dog, we have our second species in the bag - not to mention the basis of a decent roast dinner!

Heated seats dry soaking clothes and return a bit of good cheer as we carve off another 150-mile chunk of journey before a stop to meet James Norris, boss of renowned tackle shop John Norris of Penrith.

It's like a normal estate car, just with a V12
It's like a normal estate car, just with a V12
James is a salmon nut and kits us out with rod, reel, line and flies as well as some chest waders for tackling the river tomorrow. Once again, the FF devours the clobber, although the interior is beginning to resemble the aftermath of a hurricane in an army barracks.

It is still almost 400 miles to our overnight at the Ulbster Arms in Halkirk. You forget just how big Scotland is until you drive it. And we are going to have to press on if we are to arrive before last orders. We grab a final fuel stop in Pitlochry and nail the last 200 miles on empty roads. Cameraman David has his background is news, not cars. This is the first supercar he has ever driven and he provides an interesting counterpoint. "For 90 per cent of the time, it's just a car," he offers, before adding, thoughtfully, "but for that other 10 per cent it's just incredible."

Day three: salmon
After a massive 'full Scottish' and a quick casting lesson on the hotel lawn, we sucker the fly rod to the FF and head off. Thankfully there is a track with parking just feet from the river bank.

Final challenge sees the Ferrari go fishing
Final challenge sees the Ferrari go fishing
This is the toughest challenge of the three: some people fish for weeks without catching a salmon and although the Thurso is in fantastic form, I am not hopeful.

My mentor for the day, Chris Blackburn of UK Gunworks, shows me how to fish the pool and off I go. Chris is also our plan B - an expert angler, he justifies his presence by catching a fish after barely an hour. The first salmon I've seen caught in my life.

On his advice, I change fly and within minutes I get a take and the rod suddenly bends double. After five nerve-shredding minutes of battle, Chris nets my first ever salmon and I literally fall on the fish in relief. After a few photos we carefully release him to continue his amazing journey upriver to the gravel beds where he was spawned.

750 miles to home you say? Bummer.
750 miles to home you say? Bummer.
Mission accomplished! The first Ferrari Macnab. It's been a fascinating trip, more memorable for meeting such passionate and knowledgeable people. The FF has coped amazingly, too. I actually feel fresher than I did at the start of the drive. The car hasn't missed a beat, either, despite being used in a most un-Ferrari like manner.

The following morning we cover the last few miles to John O'Groats for the obligatory photo call. It feels like the end of the journey, but of course it isn't. I ask the guy who runs the photo booth how far it is back to our final destination. "750 miles, give or take." The whole of the mainland Britain lies between me and my bed. Shucks.


For more on Dom's Macnab you can see his show from the FieldsportsTV channel here or below. Contains scenes of shooting. And V12s.

 


 

 

Author: Dom Holtham