W3C Dove Crag  FOXES

Dove Crag
Dove Crag

Coniston Foxhounds: Rough going near Dove Crag
Coniston Foxhounds
Rough going near Dove Crag

Dove Crag Borran

A well known Borran, situated in a commanding position high above the Deepdale Valley, Dove Crag has a notorious place in fell hunting history. The first recorded 'visit' by hounds I have been able to find was on 30th November, 1876, from the Kirkstone Shepherds Meet by the Ullswater Foxhounds - although I suspect that the Patterdale Foxhounds and The Coniston were there earlier!

Over the years all the famous Coniston and Ullswater huntsmen (Bowman, Weir and the Chapmans) visited Dove Crag and many are the tales of battle. Richard Clapham refers to it quite frequently.

One of the many stories from Dove Crag is of a terrier named Jack, who crawled up a fissure in the rock, bolting his fox whom he tried to follow, falling to his death whilst doing so. In later years serious consideration was given before putting terriers in, and many foxes were simply left (although this depended upon where on the actual borran the fox entered).

Mike Black farmed at Nook End, which is very near the Coniston Kennels, in the early 1950s. In 1952 he had a particulary bad time with a fox at lambing time; it killed two, sometimes three per night for almost a week.

Hounds were loosed every morning at daylight, the fox taking hounds out to the fell head every time, but they could not catch it. One Sunday morning (so desperate had things become, for there was no hunting on the Sabbath), the hounds were loosed and finally found marking to ground at Dove Crag Borran. Terriers accounted for him underground and he was dug out, a very old dog fox. From Dove Crag to Nook End is several miles and two valleys away.

Dove Crag Hunt

It is traditional in Lakeland to record in song a memorable hunt or event. The following was composed in 1865 by Anthony Benson, then farm servant at Hartsop, and revised by Aaron Nelson, after a hunt by the Ullswater Foxhounds, where the fox was found on Dove Crag.

Many of these songs are very long and tedious! This one has 16 verses, so to alleviate boredom only the first and last verses are reproduced.

Up went Birkett Dixon with his piecing eye
And mounted Dove Crag which is three stories high.
Hark forrard, hark forrard, hark forrard did cry,
We're sure to kill Reynard if he does not fly.

Tally ho, etc.

Then down Lowwood top they viewed him breast high.
'Oh pardon my life,' the sly fox did cry,
But Ranger and Mischief being in earnest and nigh
They seized the old rogue and made his coat fly.

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