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