W3C Kirkstone Pass Inn MEMORIES

Kirkstone Pass Inn today
Kirkstone Pass Inn today

Coniston Foxhounds at the Travellers' Rest Inn
ConistonFoxhounds at the Travellers' Rest Inn, on the summit of the Kirkstone Pass (1469 ft)

Kirkstone Pass Inn from the path to Red Screes
Kirkstone Pass Inn from the path to Red Screes

From	higher up
From higher up

Kirkstone Pass Inn in the 1950s
Kirkstone Pass Inn in the 1950s

Coniston foxhounds leaving the Inn
Coniston foxhounds leaving the Inn

Sadly in these politically correct times the "official web site" of the Kirkstone Pass Inn makes no reference to its long association with hunting.

Apparently first built in 1496 the Inn was allowed to fall into disrepair before being rebuilt by Sewell, the hunting priest of Troutbeck, in the 1840s. Situated at the top of a 3 mile gradient from Ambleside and a similar "pull" from Patterdale, it was always a meeting place. Apparently sports and hound trailing were held there and Joe Bowman once started the fell race commenting that "only in lakeland would you go up hill for 3 miles to start a fell race" (family oral tradition).

Hunt suppers were held there also over the years and the night would ring to the shouts of the participants as the singing got under way. Hounds met there and usually either put off into Petts Quarry or Caudle Moor behind the Inn. Anthony Chapman liked the meet early in the season because it got hounds out of the bracken beds where scenting was poor and onto the fell where it was better and was a good introduction to the younger hounds.

I was awake when my dad knocked on the bedroom door, had been for ages listening to the rain. It was Saturday morning sometime in the early 1960s and hounds were meeting at the Kirkstone Pass Inn. No car or lift so we walked up the long three miles to the inn. It was pouring down. The meet had started before we arrived so we stood on the piece of road under the top known as the Struggle. You could hear the occasional hound and a lot of vocal encouragement from an increasingly frustrated huntsman. A fox crossed the road, ran across the field and jumped onto a wall top along which he ran into the mist. We didn't hallooo, hardly ever did, the family tradition being, "if you want to hallooo, think, think again and then if you still want to, have another think".

We heard the sound of metal tipped sticks on the road, a party of men loomed out of the mist and rain, even the terriers looked miserable. "Where's ta garn?" "Out of this bluddy lot." "Gordon's put a new carpet down," (Gordon Gregory, MFH had just bought the pub), "he says no fell boots in the bar, we're going to test him out." They disappeared up the road.

We set off back for home, the rain by now had well penetrated our inadequate clothing, a bit lower down the hill we were picked up by one of my dad's workmates in his old Land Rover. No room in the cab for me so I got in the back which was full of tools and terriers. They spent the entire journey trying to lick my face and hands, it was difficult to know who was the wetter, me or them. Finally we arrived home soaked to the skin, hardly saw a thing all morning. but you know .............. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Kirkstone Top (21 verses) describes a 60 mile hunt with the fox found in Red Screes (behind the Inn). It was written in 1865, by Anthony Benson, revised by Aaron Nelson.

It commences:

The evening being frosty the morning was grey
When our huntsman rose and led us away
To Kirkstone Top Inn where we uncoupled each hound
Soon music did echo on the hills all around.

After describing the course of the hunt the song sums up ...

Such a fox chase in England was ne'er before seen
He crossed through rough crags over borrans sixteen
He thought to himself the Long End he would try
But at seven hours end they compelled him to die

It is worth pointing out that the fox pursued would be one of the so called "greyhound" type foxes, the "little red jobs" of today being unknown in Lakeland at this time.

WSAWebsite manager

Unless stated otherwise all images and text on this site are copyright of the owner and may not be reproduced without permission.
Site created: 20.04.08 © Cumbrian Lad 2008-2017. All rights reserved. Email me