SPORTING rights on one of the North-East's most famous grouse moors have been put up for sale -and the price is expected to run into millions of pounds.

Many titled people and millionaires have regularly shot on the 11,200 acres of moorland on offer at Bowes, near Barnard Castle.

The land was said yesterday to have averaged a high bag of 1,301 brace of grouse a year over the past ten years -a much greater return than many other sporting areas.

Also on offer are a head gamekeeper's house, two other houses, 124 acres of freehold meadow and pasture land on Bowes Moor.

Neil Kilgour, of land agent Savills, which is handling the sale, said yesterday: "One firm offer has already been received and is being considered, so there is not much I can say at the moment."

He said he could not discuss the possible price, but said that when any extensive and good-quality grouse moor was sold, the figure goes into millions.

The moor is described as a "three-day" one, which means there is ample space and sufficient grouse for shooting to go on for three days in succession, whereas some moors can allow shooting on only one day or two days at a time.

More than 20 days of shooting have been arranged on the land for the coming grouse season, which will start on August 12.

Prospects for the season are said to be excellent.

One man who has regularly worked with shooting parties in the area said yesterday: "This is a very good moor indeed. It is bound to attract interest in Britain and overseas, and the price is certain to be well up into the millions."

He said the present rights owner, Alan Elliott, who lives in Hungerford, Berkshire, had spent a lot of money improving the moor since he took over some years ago.

He said: "He has gained a lot of respect in this area for the improvements he has made, not only to the grouse habitat, but to the land in general, including the dry stone walls."

Mr Elliott was said to be abroad on holiday yesterday and could not be contacted.

Shooting rights on the 17,000-acre Wemmergill Moor, near Barnard Castle, were reported to have been sold for £5.2m in January last year.