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Lakeland Hunting Memories Vol I

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HUnting Songs

The Flying Whip 

The Story of Braithwaite 'Brait' Wilson & the Ullswater Foxhounds
by Ron Black

The book is no longer in print but the ebook is available from : Amazon : Smashwords : and all major ebook retailers.

All the following items are taken from Ron's book The Flying Whip - The Story of Braithwaite 'Brait' Wilson and the Ullswater Foxhounds published 15 June 2014.

The story of Braithwaite 'Brait' Wilson is incomplete despite considerable research and many emails and phone calls. His war records were bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War and it is impossible to even find out in which of the Liverpool Battalions he served, let alone where he served and what might have happened to him, which may give a clue as to the reason for some of his subsequent behaviour in later years.

This book is the product of much research in libraries, family history sites and hunting reports. Parts of his story are a blank for the simple reason that although most of his hunting activities were recorded, most of the rest of his life was not; but I hope this book will help fill in a few gaps about Brait and the times in which he lived.

BRAIT'S HARD WEEK

The following is an account of a week’s hunting for Brait Wilson and the Ullswater Foxhounds in November 1924 shortly after Brait began as huntsman, a post he held until 1933.

To get to the meet he and his whipper-in would have walked with the hounds over the fells and at the end of the week’s stay walked back to kennels.

ULLSWATER FOXHOUNDS - These hounds met last week at Longsleddale, where hunters and hounds were kept at Mr. W. Farrer’s, Kilnstone. The weather on the whole was fine and at each meet a good number of hunters assembled. On Monday the huntsman cast off at the head of the valley and near Buckbarrow Borran, a good line was struck which unfortunately proved to be heel way, the fox having been seen to go into this stronghold sometime before hounds arrived. After considerable delay hounds were brought back to Buckbarrow and there marked the fox. Although it is very risky to let terriers into this place, it was decided to so as to try to bolt the “sly un.” Peter and Tim were let in. The former after some time came out, but it was not until Wednesday that Tim returned to Kilnstone. It has been known for a terrier to be imprisoned for nine days at this spot and come out alive. However, the day ended without a run.
Tuesday was a much more disappointing day as regards weather, there being a thick mist the whole time. Although a fox was found nothing could be seen and where the fox was run to is not known-only there were 16 hounds missing at night.

(This would cause significant problems for Brait and his whipper in, telephones were few and far between in 1924 and the chances of a farmer ringing up to say he had seen the missing hounds were slim. There was only one thing to do, make an educated guess as to where the hounds might be and then go and look, very likely on foot; however, there is a good chance some hounds or perhaps all would return to kennels. Either way they probably did some more walking.)

Thursday opened with a fine clear morning. A good number of hunters again assembled at the meet. B Wilson threw off his hounds at High House for Yewbarrow Hall Wood and there a cold line was hit which led slowly up over the top to Dry How Fell, where reynard was unkennelled from amongst the heather and halloa’d away by T. Dawson and T. Blenkinsop. The hounds got a good “lay on” and forced their game across the fell into Bannis. Turning left on entering the valley the hunt took up the wood to the head of the dale. On reaching the old slate quarries, the fox doubled back, still keeping the wood to the end when he climbed out and again crossed Dry How Fell to Longsleddale, entering this valley opposite Docker Nook. On reaching Yewbarrow Hall Wood, reynard kept this for some distance, and then climbed out still keeping the valley over Swinklebank Crag and forward to Stockdale near the head of the dale. It was now thought that the fox was making for Buckbarrow Earth but at Anchor Ghyll he suddenly changed his course by climbing the steep ghyll to the top. For some time a splendid view had been obtained of the fox and his pursuers as they raced him back down the valley, young Music leading, which she had been for some distance. She forced reynard down into the sheepfolds at High Swinklebank Farm the finish was now in sight and considerable excitement prevailed. After leaving the sheepfold, reynard crossed the main road to near the beck then back to the road and at Domino Hill was bowled over, and when lifted was found to be a dog.

On Saturday, again from Kilnstone, the huntsman threw off at Docker Nook Farm. Trying around by Potter Fell End and Staveley Head without finding, hounds crossed Rayner Lot and unkennelled a fox which took Sleddale Forest and over into Longsleddale then up this valley to Buckbarrow. Here reynard no doubt intended to go to ground, but it being guarded he took up Little Buckbarrow Ghyll and was finally dispatched. When lifted was found to be another fine dog fox. FUSEDALE

Westmorland Gazette 22nd November 1924

I’m sure huntsmen and hounds were glad to begin the walk home, it had been quite a week one way or another.

AN UNUSUAL OCCURENCE

Lamb-worrying by foxes usually keeps the fell packs busy in Spring, but during 10 days in May 1933 the Ullswater foxhounds had an experience that luckily is rare. In ten days or so Mr. J. V. Allen of Hartsop Hall had 19 lambs worried in the fields at the head of Brotherswater. Since Tuesday of the week prior half the Ullswater pack had five runs in an effort to kill the fox responsible for these depredations, and after reynard had beaten the hounds on each occasion he was finally killed on the Wednesday, after drastic measures had been taken in the form of loosing the whole pack at his brush. He gave the hounds some remarkable runs, and in the course of the six hunts they must have covered in the region of 80 – 100 miles. Each morning the loose was at daybreak-about 5 am, - but such was the sagacity of reynard that after the first hunt he paid his nocturnal visits so early in the night that at daybreak little scent remained at the scene of his killing. That the same fox was responsible there can be little doubt, for on three occasions out of the six he was seen and described as a “small, dark coloured specimen”, and when finally worried underground by terriers proved to be an old dog. The fact that he was worrying lambs out of sheer badness was proved time after time, as the majority had not been carried away.

A brief description of the six hunts, to show the vast territory over which reynard wandered, would not be out of place. On the Tuesday, Joe Wear’s portion of the pack took a drag from a dead lamb near Caudale Beck and carried it up to High Dod, across Caiston Beck and into Dod Bields, where the fox was marked to ground. Tiny effected a bolt and reynard shot straight down into the fields, across Caiston Beck and climbed the screes to Middle Dod. Being hard pressed, reynard again turned down Steel End and after going through Caudale Beck farmyard ran the wall top from there to the Brotherswater Hotel. Here he took a wash in the beck. This trick worked and probably saved the fox’s life, as hounds could make nothing of the line after. This was a narrow escape for reynard and it is significant that never again was he found within five miles of the scene of his ravages.

On the Wednesday Joe Wear again took a drag from alongside the Kirkstone road at Caudale Bridge, up Caiston Beck and over to Petts Quarries, where the fox was marked to ground. Terriers could not effect a bolt from this stronghold, and the “sly un” had to be left. B. Wilson’s portion of the pack had a similar fruitless drag on Thursday, the line taking them up Caiston Beck, through Red Screes, past Petts Quarry and over Greengate to Cobdale Hall, just above Ambleside, where they were stopped. The same hounds had a remarkable hunt on Saturday and the drag covered about 15 miles from Bull Crag in Hartsop via the Sails, the Stangs, Dove Crag, Huntsman’s Cove, Hart Crag (Deepdale), Hart Crag in Rydal, Fairfield, Cofa Pike in Grisedale, Big Rigg, Seat Sandal, Heron Crag, Nab Scar (Grasmere) Rydal Hall Park and Low Pike before reynard’s resting place after his nocturnal ramblings was reached. Hounds were on good terms from the start and drove their game up to Rydal Head, Hart Crag, forward to Dove Crag, Blake Brow, Lingy Cove and under Greenhow End in Deepdale. He then went through Sleet Cove to Deepdale Hause, climbed Cofa Pike, Fairfield, back into Rydal bottoms nearly to the sheepfolds, and went out again by Hart Crag, over Dove Crag into Scandale Head, and forward to High and Low Pikes. At this point hunters lost touch with the hounds, but it was later ascertained that two hounds had run into Nab Scar near Grasmere. That they had not killed the fox was shown the following morning when two more dead lambs were found at Hartsop Hall. On Monday a further two lambs were worried and B. Wilson cast off in the Forest. Hounds immediately took what proved to be another long drag by way of the Stangs, under Dove Crag, down Blake Brow, through Ghyll Crag to Low Wood, in to Deepdale Hall Fell and across Deepdale valley over Lattra, Brow Crag, and through Banersides to Gavel Pike. From here the line went over St Sunday Crag into Grisedale – the fourth valley - and the fox jumped up in the vicinity of Spion How. Reynard was forced down across Grisedale bottom at a terrific pace and he was unable to climb Grisedale Brow towards the noted stronghold at Bleaberry Crag. Marcus, Daisy, Rally and Magic were close to his brush as he sped down the Helvellyn path, past the Ullswater hound kennels and actually through the huntsman’s kitchen garden. Reynard again triumphed however, for when he was on the point of being rolled over he got into laurels at the waterfall just above Patterdale Hall and scent failed.

The grand finale came on the Wednesday when 30 hounds turned out by B. Wilson (huntsman) and J. Wear (whip). The ground was dry, but the “weight” of a full pack enabled faster dragging and reynard was driven at a great pace when once on foot. Traces of the drag were again found in the Stangs and the hunt went up and around Dove Crag where the fox was unkennelled. Reynard did a lot of doubling and dodging in Hart Crag and through Rydal Head to Big Rigg above Grasmere. He then turned and climbed back again for Fairfield and in to Deepdale Head. The pace was too hot for him and, so he went to ground at Cofa Pike. He refused to bolt and was worried by the terriers. As he was drawn the hunters crowded round to see if he was the “small, dark” customer, lost at Wath Bridge by the whip on the first morning. A sigh of relief came from all, for the carcase was that of a “small, dark” dog fox and Hartsop Hall lambs were to have a respite.

TRAPPED AT 2500 FEET IN WINTER

The Ullswater Foxhounds met at Glenridding for Little Cove. No sooner had hounds been set at liberty than a good drag was taken over the top into Grisedale and forward through the Brow to Low Dyke under Bleaberry Crag, where hounds marked the fox underground. Terriers were put in and soon effected a bolt. Hounds got good start and drove reynard under Spine How and forward to Nethermost Cove, where he attempted to climb Ladies Steps to the top of Helvellyn. He failed owing to a blinding snowstorm, so doubled back down Striding Edge and near Dixon’s Monument went to ground in an unknown earth at an elevation of 2500 feet. It was not thought that there was any danger attached to the place, either for terriers or hounds. Two terriers Tar and Daffie were let in to try and bolt the fox, and it was thought that they went right to reynard. In the meantime Baldwin and Bellman two hounds had crept in, either to get to the fox, or to obtain shelter from what was now a raging blizzard. As time went by it was feared that the two hounds and terriers had become stuck. The huntsman, whip and followers quarried from 10am until darkness fell, when they had to leave until the following morning as a heavy mist was coming down and darkness was fast.

During the night of Thursday, or Friday morning, one of the terriers reached the kennels but as the others were still absent the huntsman and followers climbed again to Striding Edge on Friday morning, in the teeth of a raging wind and hailstorms, crowbars and other tools were carried and, after considerable excavation, the nature of the stronghold was found to be of such that the rescuers began to have some doubts as to the rescuing alive of the animals. Huge boulders and rocks were removed, only to reveal a huge crevice or “chink,” as it is known locally of uncertain length- 20 to 50 feet in depth. At the bottom, by the aid of torches could be seen the ill fated animals. All kinds of devices were employed to bring the hounds back to safety, but without result, and the men had to reluctantly leave the animals for another night, but before leaving them, shared their sandwiches with them, by throwing them to the bottom of the crevice.

Before daybreak on Saturday, another party of volunteers set out on the strenuous journey to the borran, carrying with them food and water for the hounds and terrier, and medicines. Determined not to fail on this occasion they also carried rock drills, hammers and explosives. While one man kept encouraging the hounds and terrier by passing tit bits of food down the crevice, the others began blasting the rock. Late in the afternoon they so far succeeded that they were able to pass a noose first around the terrier and then round Bellman, one of the hounds and drew them to safety. The animals were numb with exposure and the men took turns in applying massage, finally wrapping their overcoats round the animals and carrying them down the mountainside to a less exposed position.

Returning to the borran, further blasting operations were necessary to reach the remaining hound, Baldwin, but darkness fell and the attempt had to be abandoned until next day. Before the rescuers had reached the place of shelter where Bellman and the terrier had been laid, the hound had so far recovered that he had walked away, and in the darkness could not be seen. However, when the rescue party reached the kennels Bellman had arrived. The terrier recovered on Sunday.

Again before daybreak on Sunday, the party set out to rescue, if possible, the remaining hound, Baldwin. After some hours hard work under atrocious conditions the hound was found dead with the dead fox near him.

The rescue party consist of Messrs. Joseph Wear (whip), Thomas Teasdale, Stanley Teasdale, R. Lancaster, Joseph Birkett and Eric Harrison.

Mr Farrer (hunt secretary) spoke in high praise of the rescue party and expressed on behalf of the Master and committee, their thanks and appreciation for the hazardous work

“The borran is situated on the most exposed part of Striding Edge. Just above stands the monument known as Dixon’s Monument, in memory of a man whose brother was huntsman of the old Patterdale pack of hounds and who, while following the hounds, was blown over and killed.”

Mr Farrer concluded his remarks by saying that in all his long hunting experience he had never known a fox to hole in that place.

Chappie

Bowman

The Ullswater Foxhounds 1914-1965

The Ullswater Foxhounds 1863-1913

Lathom Remount Depot WWI

Bobby Troughton and the Kendal Otter Hounds

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