Traditional Boxing Day hunts head out across the region

Hundreds of North East hunt supporters, on foot and on horseback, turned out for the traditional Boxing Day meet yesterday.

Hundreds of North East hunt supporters, on foot and on horseback, turned out for the traditional Boxing Day meet yesterday.

The established hunts set off across the region early in the day with riders using animal-scented trails for the hounds to track.

The law may have banned fox hunting but that failed to detract from the annual Boxing Day spectacle, or of locals’ enjoyment of it.

Families made a beeline for the picturesque Market Square in Corbridge to welcome the Tynedale huntsmen, horses and hounds before they set off on a trail hunt, following a scent laid down by the hunt leaders.

 

Following a cry of “tally ho” and the sound of Tynedale Master huntsman Charlie Shirley-Beavan’s horn the horses and hounds trotted into the distance.

This was Mr Shirley-Beavan’s first Boxing Day meet as Master of the Tynedale hunt.

He said: “The turnout here today is fantastic with around 100 horses and around 500 supporters on foot.

“It’s a community event and a tradition shared and enjoyed, not just by hunt members, but by people from all walks of life.

“We’re pushing for a repeal of the hunting ban because it’s very badly written. We will keep trail hunting until then.

“This is my first year as Master of the Tynedale and I’ve been looking forward to today’s meet - it’s our biggest day.

“Today is a great way for the public to see what we’re about and support for the hunt has actually grown since before the ban.”

Elsewhere across the region, the Braes of Derwent hunt met at the Queen’s Head in Lanchester, County Durham.

Master huntsman Alan Chapman said he was impressed year on year by the volume of support from the general public.

“Both sides of the street are completely lined with people,” he said. “It’s a big cross section of people - young and old - who come out to enjoy the morning.

“We’ll be hunting until dark and thankfully we’ve been blessed with some fine weather.

“The countryside has changed, but the support is still there. If people were against what we were doing they wouldn’t turn out in such numbers to support us.”

The Haydon Hunt is one of the oldest hunts in the region and has been meeting at the Anchor Hotel in Haydon Bridge for nearly two centuries.

One of the hunt’s masters, Heather McDonald, counted 40 riders on horseback and around 100 people on foot at this year’s Boxing Day spectacle.

“There’s a good atmosphere and it’s a lovely day,” she said. “We will head out north from Haydon Bridge and go wherever the trail is. We’re just all happy to be out.

“Support is really growing for the Haydon Hunt and it’s lovely to have the hounds still and see them enjoying life.”

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