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December 24th 1869

Come all ye keen hunters while I relate
Of a fox chase that was run of late
By the Melbreak hounds with their usual skill
Determined if they find, to either hole or kill.

Squire Benson with huntsman hounds and horn
At the early dawn on a frosty morn
To Brackenthwaite Fells he did repair
Where Sir Reynard had been taking his Christmas fare.

To the top of Hobcarton they dragged him on high
And into Gasgale Crags where bold Reynard did lie
He was aroused from his slumber by Jack Pearson’s view halloa
Made his coat stand on end as the hounds did follow.

By Whiteside and Grassmoor he took them several rounds
Closely pursued by those gallant “laal” hounds
Over Lanthwaite Green and on past Scale View
Where he bid his old native land a fond adieu.

Then up Low Bank and through Buttermere
Men, women and children did give him loud cheer
As they crossed the Dubs at Crummock Lake Head
The cry was enough to waken the dead.

Through Buttermere Scale near to Scale Force
They made bold Reynard for to change his course
He climbed Red Pike above Bleaberry Combe
Where the echo told him plain that death was his doom.

Over High Pike summit and on past Brunt Bield
Through Burtness Combe they forced him to yield
With hunters, hounds and fox in view
They did him in gallant style pursue.

Then down in the intacks of Gatesgarth Farm
They drove poor Reynard in great alarm
And at Burtness Close near by the lakeside
They pulled him down on the plain so wide.

With sixteen hounds and terriers four
They soon made Reynard for to breath no more
And those who had joined the chase in their clogs
Did loudly give praise to those Loweswater dogs.

It was Christmas Eve in the year ‘69
So we did repair to the Fish Inn and dine
With the spirits we did make them fly in their pace
In fine chorus with this glorious race.

So fill up a bumper and we’ll all have a horn
And drink success to the next hunting morn
For all the sports that I ever did see
Chasing the fox is the best one for me.

Edward Nelson 1846 - 1934

* * * * * * *

The following song taken from the Ambleside Herald, records a hunt by the Coniston that appears to have been on Christmas Day 1883. The report of the hunt can be found in the Westmorland Gazette 5th January 1884.

Coniston Foxhounds

It being Christmas time, we set out in good cheer,
Though the valleys were foggy the tops were all clear
The field it was large, so to Wansfell we went
For to kill bold reynard was our intent.

Chorus: Tally ho! Tally ho!
Hark forrard good hounds Tally ho!

Very soon Jim uncoupled his trim little pack
For skill speed and music ‘gainst thousands he’ll back
He says it’s high scenting, and reynard will find
That if he breaks cover they’ll go like the wind.

Soon Duster gives note that a fox has been there,
And Century swore he would find out his lair
With Barmaid and Brilliant and Chider, good hound
They threw up their heads and away with a bound.

Up by Wansfell Pike and over Wark How
They crossed Kirkstone Road and to Woundle did bow,
Across Woundle breast in splendid array
Down to Hallielands to where sly reynard lay.

Then to Hallielands, where they went with a rush -
His lordship turned out to shew them his brush;
With a view tally ho! For they all saw him clear,
They cried “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year”.

With loud Christmas greetings they went off breast high,
Through Woundle to Hart Crag appearing to fly,
They turned him through Sad Ghyll, where he shed a tear,
To think he couldn’t survive the New Year.

Then in by Dork Crags he led them a race,
For cleaver and Blueman were doubling their pace,
To be up Thornthwaite Crag it was his intent
Then turned his head northwards, and down Patterdale went.

On Thornthwaite Crag stood Bill Hayton, who said
Their course was now changed o’er Aisdale head,
And not one amongst them was heard to give mouth,
But with heads all erect were driving him South.

Now in Wander Scar he thought it was time
To round Lindale Head and shorten his line
To Mardale, and Hill Bell, from thence to Nan Bield
Where hounds, nothing daunted, cried, “thou’ll have to yield”.

His farewell excursion he paid Mardale Green,
And through Harter Fell such as chase there was seen,
In trying Branstra Brow, he found he was spent,
So by Rangle Quarries to Longsleddale went.

Then to Settle Earth but this he passed by.
Feeling too warm he could not there lie,
So to Snow Cove Ghyll head, where they sighted his bush
And made him run through Goat Scar with a rush.

Into Buckbarrow now he struggled to gain,
But cleaver cried out “Tis labour in vain”
And turning him back, they forced him to yield
And take to the river down into the field.

Though but few in number they’re true to their foes,
They made him comply to their own ancient laws,
For Cleaver he seized him and made him whie-hie!
In the presence of Phiswick, who saw reynard die.

John Phiswick, of Sleddale, who saw Reynard’s end,
Declared such a fox-chase he ne’er did attend,
For his tricks and his dodges had proved all as one,
And the hounds were good gamesters and second to none.

When the hunters arrived on the top of Scar Head,
They heard a loud cheer that reynard was dead.
Jim then blew the whoop, which rang loud and clear,
For reynard had failed to see the New Year.

So now to conclude this gallant fox chase,
There’s no one can say they e’er saw such a race,
Here’s success and long life to the Coniston Hounds,
That bring to their master great fame without bounds.

Ambleside Herald, 11th February, 1884

* * * * * * *

The Mount Joy Hunt

>

Twas the Coniston Foxhounds which brought out a few
Of the keenest sportsmen a hunt for to view
The morning was chilly quite frosty and clear
Twas the fourth of December 02 was the year.

Chorus: Tally-ho, Tally-ho, Tally-ho
Hark forrard good hounds Tally-ho.

The meet was arranged as often before
At the ancient old inn that is called the Wild Boar
A start is effected, “Hark forrard’s the cry”
Each sportsman determined bold Reynard should die.

In the park close to Gilpin a drag here they find,
But loosing all trace they leave it behind
Then passing through Crook in a southerly way
Each hen roost en route a visit they pay.

Then Mount Joy and Lord’s Lot and Cock Hagg they try
Next Birk Moss plantation on Crosthwaite side;
“Tally-ho” is the cry two foxes are there
And these hounds take the quest of the one from his lair.

Through Riggs’s Moss Allotment, Cock Hagg and Lord’s Lot
The refuge he wanted in Mount Joy he got,
Here he baffled the hounds and the huntsman beside
And not one could tell where reynard did hide.

At last a true sportsman thought he had a cause
To examine a hole where a hound made a pause,
And finding the remains of a fowl or two near
He thought it quite likely that Reynard was there.

The dogs were next called but could not decide,
What kind of creature there may be inside,
Wether fox or rabbit the question arose
So the huntsman to end it made use of his nose.

To the men who were using the pick, bar and spade
“It’s nowt but a rabbit,” the Huntsman he said;
He took out his horn, and blew a long blast,
The day is far-gone, and I’ve had a long fast.

Unheeding his words, a few worked on
For eight or ten minuites after he’d gone,
When out bolted the Varmint, “Tally–ho” from them all,
A Sheep Dog was there that answered the call.

There was twenty full paces divided the two
And up through the wood so quickly they flew,
But foxy soon found he was in trouble,
And so he resolved to put in a double.

Now down by the sportsmen who took up the chase
The valley was ringing, the urged on the race,
No more than a yard divided the two
And onward they sped, would she catch it somehow?

For the highway they made, the wall’s but one bound,
On the opposite wall, together they’re found,
And stood nose to nose ‘twas plain for to see,
Though both of one colour they could not agree.

As she seizes her fox, they drop in the field,
Though bitten by him she never will yield,
On the sportsman appearing they soon did espy,
That 'ere many seconds poor Reynard must die.

The end came at last, and guess the surprise,
When a collie could capture that coveted prize.
Let’s honour her name, and when hunting we go
Let’s hope that she’ll answer the next Tally-ho.

Taken from Annals of the Coniston Foxhounds
B.L. Thompson


In his book In the Steps of Mighty Men, Neil Salisbury adds the following to this story:

“The name of the yellow collie was Guess, she belonged to a John Rogerson. After the fox was killed by the collie, the huntsman and hounds came back and took the dead fox away with them to the Wild Boar. The above poetry (?) was composed by John Atkinson, his brother George and Sedgwick Bolton, 1902."

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