Having been interested in birds of prey for many years, my other half bought me a Falconry Experience Day at Lainston House with their resident falconer Billy Taylor for my birthday. I have to say it was one of the best birthday presents I have ever had!
The day starts with fresh bacon rolls and tea or coffee in one of the exquisite Lainston House rooms, giving the opportunity to meet Billy and anyone else who is on the same experience day. The groups are very small (only 3 in total on the day I went) which is ideal so you get plenty of time to handle the birds and ask questions etc during the day.
After breakfast, we then walk over to the kitchen garden where the birds are, and Billy introduces us all to the owls and falcons that are there, giving the background to where they have come from etc.
Billy is incredibly easy to talk to, and obviously hugely knowledgeable on the birds he has and the subject in general.
We then get an opportunity to have several different species of owls flying to us. Having had owls fly to me before, still nothing takes away the magic of a bird of prey in flight, and landing so lightly on your fist, they are just incredible creatures. W each take turns in flying the owls, and chating about birds of prey in general. Billy explains about the feeding, and weighing of the birds and how crucial that is for how they fly.
After coffee served in the kitchen garden, we then take one of the falcons to a large field, and get the opportunity to take off the birds hood and watch her fly to the lure Billy is swinging, it's a spectacular sight!
We then take the bird back to the aviary and get her settled in before we make our way to a 2 course lunch in one of the sumptuous dinning rooms in the main house. As you would expect, lunch was fantastic, the food and service top notch, and an opportunity to get to know Billy and the fellow experience day attendees better.
After lunch we then took one of the Harris Hawks hunting in the grounds of Lainston House. We were very fortunate with the weather, it was cold but clear skies which just added to the magic of the day. The walk was probably 2 or 3 miles, through open fields with stunning views of the House, through woodland and then back to complete the circle. The Harris hawk flew from tree to tree as we walked along, occasionally chasing down prey in the undergrowth. It was lovely to see them in their natural surroundings.
Billy then arranged coffee on the terrace to end the day while flying an older falcon to the lure, the speed that these falcons fly at is incredible, and is magical to watch.
The day finished around 4:30, and all of us were sad to see the day come to an end. I would like to thank Billy who made the day so special for all of us, his knowledge and passion for the birds and the sport of falconry made it a truly memorable day. I can't recommend this day highly enough!
Thanks again and look forward to attending other events there soon.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Drive through the gates of Lainston House, up the winding drive, you will enter a world where historic charm and contemporary elegance blend seamlessly. This charming 17th-century country house is a luxurious five star hotel, encapsulated in 63 acres of Hampshire parkland. A peaceful drawing room, sumptuous individually designed bedrooms and food created with passion (awarded 3 AA rosettes). The Cedar Bar is the place to relax for a cocktail and the outdoor terrace is even more so for sipping a glass of Champagne or a chilled glass of wine over a light lunch in Summer months. Don't forget to book for Afternoon Tea, a day in the on-site Cookery School or a spot of Falconry, located at the back of our stunning kitchen garden. This is a classic Country House where you can put the world behind you whether it be for a creative meeting, a relaxing leisure stay or a family celebration. Minutes away from the historic city of Winchester and only a short drive from Salisbury, Stonehenge and the New Forest. Visit Jane Austin country, Highclere Castle (home of Downton Abbey), Bombay Sapphire Distillery or a local Vineyard such as Hattingley Valley. The famous River Test is close by for perfect fishing and quaint villages to explore. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lainston Hotel Winchester