W3C The Craic DO U KNOW?
 

We parked up for the umpteenth time that morning as rain continued to lash against the car and mist covered the treetops in the little plantation beside the road. The demister was fighting a losing battle with increasing condensation, and the rhythmic clunk of the windscreen wiper as it fought its losing battle against the rain began to wear thin. I'd long since rolled up my window to keep the rain out, but the wet patch on my sleeve showed I put up a struggle.

In the fields by the road hounds were running round in circles trying to find any remnant of scent, probably long since washed away. The huntsman's anguished cries occasionally carried over to the car. In the background the sound of a local radio station could be heard. "Did you hear that?" asked Ian. I put my binoculars away and turned to face him. "Hear what?" I asked. "That piece on the radio, it just said every two minutes a heavy wagon goes over Dunmail Raise and once a day a man is knocked down in Cumbria. " You'd think he would have learned his lesson by now."

Hounds on the fells

Another wet morning in South Lakeland, hounds were paying their annual visit to the "low country" as the high fells were snowbound. We had walked up and down this road for a good hour huddling under the trees and trying to make some sense out of what was happening with the hunt. We were soaked to the skin. A rather expensive car drove up and down the road containing two people following the hunt in the dry. They paid little regard to us and on one occasion drove through a puddle throwing muddy water in our direction. The abuse was unprintable.

Hounds put up a fox, which went away and crossed the beck lower down the road, much water had come down overnight and the beck was in spate. In an eddy slightly lower down half a dozen ducks floated around. Nearby was a ford. We arrived on the riverbank; it was obvious we were going to have to cross. Just at that moment the same car appeared and without any slowing plunged ahead into the ford.

He got halfway across before the deep water killed his engine. Despite several efforts he failed to restart it and it was obvious it was going nowhere. He rolled down the window and stuck his head out, "You daft buggers," he raged, "why did you not tell me it was so deep?" The old farmer standing next to me leaned on his stick, cleared his throat and said "Nay me lad, it's not that deep, it only goes up to the ducks' bellies."

Three hounds

Toilet facilities on the high fell are non-existent and some imaginative schemes were employed to answer the call of nature, perhaps the funniest happened on the fell below Little Hart Crag on the Brotherswater side. We had walked up Scandal from Ambleside to follow the Ullswater foxhounds, the hunt started by the lakeshore and after a tour of the valley the fox was lost in the "savine" bushes below where we stood (savins are juniper bushes). Hounds strove hard to find the scent of the fox, which had eluded then, no doubt by running round and around in the bushes. However it was of no avail, they could not strike the line. A certain friend at this point decided to take a pee and disappeared into the bushes for privacy. A few minutes later there was much shouting and swearing as he attracted the attention of the hounds, shortly after he emerged from the bushes a wet stain down the front of his trousers. "He's pissed himself," somebody roared. There was no time to investigate further as hounds hit the line of the fox and a cracking hunt disappeared in the direction of Dove Crag nearby.

Later in the pub the story unfolded, it appears our friend seeking privacy had taken himself off and whilst answering the call of nature happened to look down only to see the fox sheltering under a bush gazing back! This had understandably caused a "re-direction" of the flow with the result for all to see, and to add insult to injury, in his own words, "It took bloody ages to dry!"

Images copyright of Tim Bonner

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