W3C Pete's Pants DO U KNOW?
  The daylight was not far away as we set out; the beginnings of a reddish tinge in the Eastern sky with the darkened bulk of the fell in the foreground drawing the eye. Breath in plumes rose with increasing frequency as the track became steeper, the only sound beside that of early birdsong was the bleating of new born lambs and the click of the tip of walking sticks on stones on the track. There was no conversation, our destination agreed in the pub last night and everyone knew the way.

Suddenly a red orb blasted into the morning sky and light began to move slowly down the fellside, the pace increased as did my breathing and the ache in my calves, I undid my top two shirt buttons, Pete looked at me and a broad smile crossed his face. The pace increased even more. Away to the right and several hundred feet below, lights were on in the whitewashed farmhouse still in shadow, a Land Rover and trailer bumped down the farm road towards the house. Pulling up on the grass beside the barn, the occupants got out and went into a huddle with the farmer. Above us the sunlight had reached and was illuminating our destination, a notorious borran underneath a big overhanging crag. Over the years many foxes had escaped into this underground labyrinth pursued by terriers, several of whom had not returned.

Quarter of an hour later we were sitting on the borran, my breath slowly regaining normality and the ache in my calves easing.

“Get the flask out," Jack, said.

Pete looked sheepish. “At home,” he said finally, “our lass is helping at the church jumble sale, she has it.”

Jack, who although he would never admit it, was partial to Pete’s coffee, stared at him. “You pillock,” he said, “bet you will not be going to the sale?”

Pete shuffled uneasily on his rocky seat. “No,” he replied.

“Has that anything to do with the bollocking Father gave you about living in sin?” asked Jack casually.

Before Pete could reply, away to our right the quiet of the morning was broken by a ringing view halloo. The ramp to the trailer was opened and as it began its fall to the ground the pack exploded from the back of the vehicle, knocking over the huntsman. There was much laughter among our little group at this, made even more funny when the binoculars revealed he had landed in a cow pat. A thousand feet above we could not hear what was said but it did not tax the imagination much to imagine. The hounds raced across the green intake fields and flew over the wall which separated it from the fell proper. They began climbing the steepening fell side, their music increasing as they did so.

“Must be viewing it,” said Jack.

“It’s theer!” exclaimed Pete, pointing with his stick in the direction of a small ghyll in the fellside. Sure enough there was the fox. Without a backward glance it disappeared into the depths of the ghyll. Two minutes later the entire pack also disappeared into the ghyll. There was a tremendous explosion of music then it all went quiet.

“They’ve got it,” said Pete, looking up at the ridge, where a party of hunters had suddenly appeared. “I bet they baulked the bugger, and it turned back into the hounds.” This theory was confirmed by a series of halloos coming from the group who descended out of sight into the top of the ghyll. Shortly afterwards the huntsman came up with his terriers and a little group of hangers-on.

“Now then,” he said, “that was a bit quick. Girt cub from last year been hanging round henhouse for weeks, always dodged the farmer’s gun but it couldn’t dodge my hounds.”

Jack looked at him. “What now?“ he said, “its too early to go home.”

The huntsman looked at him. “There’s no peace,” he said, “you’re worse than the bloody Master, but you’re right, it is too early. Let’s go and lait another.” Our little group had been joined by the farmer, with two collie dogs in tow, their leads pieces of binder twine.

“Good ending?” said Jack.

“Good result,“ replied the farmer, “trouble is there’s a couple more of the damn things. Follow through that planting,” he pointed with his stick at a clump of fir trees off to one side of the valley.

The huntsman smiled. “Let’s go have a look,” he said, and calling his hounds set off in the direction of the woods.

Jack looked at the farmer. “Have you stopped shooting then?” he asked.

The farmer nearly choked. “Who told you that?” he said. Jack looked at him then looked at Pete.

“Wasn’t me,” said Pete, “I’d only had six pints.” The farmer cleared his throat, spat on the turf, and followed the huntsman in the direction of the wood. The hounds crossed the fence and disappeared into the trees. For a few minutes all was quiet and then a cry picked up by the other hounds indicated they had found a drag. The hunt seemed to go round the planting and then the hounds could be seen climbing the fellside behind.

“Driven it out,” said Pete, “and it’s not far in front.”

“Spread out,” said Jack, “it’ll try and get in.” We spread out along the top of the boulder field and waited. Sure enough the fox suddenly appeared, and not where we expected to see it; it was actually above us and trying desperately to get into one of the borran entrances but the leading hound was too close and, grabbing hold of the fox, the two rolled together down the fellside. Another second and it was all over as the rest of the pack arrived. Once again the air was filled with the death halloo.

Jack looked at Pete. “Why can’t you halloo like that?” he said.

“I don’t wear tight underpants,” Pete replied.
divider
  waf Website 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