W3C A Season With Wear GARN YAM



Joe Weir

The Ullswater Foxhounds
1933/34 Season

This is the story of a season with the Ullswater pack, using newspaper reports of the time. These hunts took place against a background of a world moving towards war and world wide economic hardship and misery. One quarter of the U.K workforce was unemployed. In Germany Hitler declared himself Fuhrer while in Russia, Stalin began his massacres. In the USA some 35 million acres of farmland were destroyed by drought. The FBI in America had considerable success against Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and John Dillinger.

The season did not begin well for the Ullswater. In August, a farmer called Richard Braithwaite was fined 10s (.50p) at Kirby Stephen Police Court, for failing to keep a dog under proper control after it attempted to bite a young boy. Previous to this a warning had been issued. This dog was a hound belonging to the Ullswater Pack spending the summer months at walk.

In late August, things got worse with the dismissal of the huntsman and a series of allegations made by a Mr Holme in a letter to a newspaper about a debt of £100 owed by the hunt amongst other matters. The then Hunt Secretary Mr G R Farrer was forced into a reply, explaining the dismissal of the huntsman and denying most emphatically an inability to repay any monies owing.

On the 16th of September 1933 came good news with the announcement of Joe Wear (previously whipper in) promoted to huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds with Joe Wilkinson as whipper in.

The season began in late October 1933.

The opening meet of the above pack took place at White Lion Patterdale on Saturday.
The morning was not at all promising, with showers and mist on the fells. All the same a good gathering assembled including Mr. T.B Nelson (Master) Mrs. Nelson and Capt and Mrs Scott. The huntsman (J Wear) and J Wilkinson (whip) were in charge of the hounds, which looked fit. At 09.30 a start was made for Placefell and above Side farm a drag was taken which led up to Grey crag. From here the line took down the top of Placefell to Birkfell where the fox broke cover from amongst the juniper bushes, which grow very dense in this fell. After a ringing holloa the hunt took down to Kilbert Howe a prominent crag by the shore of the lake. By taking the bridle path through Silver Bay to opposite Patterdale a fine sight was witnessed as the fox and hounds climbed the breast to the top of Rooking Ghyll. Here a second fox was roused which caused the pack to divide and afterwards run in two portions. One section drove their game down the top of Bleaberry Knott and forward to Long Crag in Birkfell. By this time the hounds were running more or less in view and forced Reynard down to the lake. At Scale How Bay the fox was dispatched – in the lake, after taking to the water.

The first meet under Joe Wear ended with a kill; in November hounds met at Greyrigg and encountered what may be have been a throwback to one of the old greyhound type foxes.

On the open slopes of the fell the fox was hard pressed for a means of escape and tried hard to loose his pursuers by dodging among flocks of newly dipped sheep. Three times this ruse failed. Reynard then took to the water in Whinhow Beck, but hounds drove him down Whinhow Ghyll in the direction of Sweet Bridge. He did not get far, however, being dispatched, at the foot of Whinhow Ghyll. When Reynard was lifted he proved to be a fine dog fox of the dark and grizzled type.

Hunting in Swindale in December 1933, the pack encountered two badgers, which by this time were becoming something of a rarity on the Lakeland high fell.

Ullswater Foxhounds on Friday, hunting in Swindale, found two badgers in black Bells Borran after terriers had been let in to a supposed fox.

The meet was at Shap Abbey and hounds were taken to Swindale. On reaching the head of the valley half the pack spoke to the line of a fox, which led over the fell into Mardale. The remaining hounds surprised the hunters by refusing to join in the chase and commencing to mark at the earth. Terriers were let in and it was not long before there was a terrific commotion underground. To the amazement of all a badger shambled into the open with several terriers hanging on to him, and before the huntsman could intervene Brock was dispatched. The terriers returned to the earth and shortly afterwards another badger appeared, to meet with the same fate.

Badgers are now uncommon on the high fells (according to Alpha, our natural history correspondent) but are still to be found in the woodlands of Westmorland. They frequently take possession of a fox’s earth but it is now unusual for them to be encountered by the Lakeland packs.

In early January the meet at Patterdale was held in snow with a bitter northeasterly wind. Holiday meets always attracted big fields and this meet was no exception.

Hounds were cast off behind Mill Moss Tarn. Patches of scent were evident on Bleaze End, but at Stone Man the drag improved. Under Arnison crag a definite line was taken to Hayton Crag. Turning above Wall End and to a higher altitude scenting was not of the best, yet the pack held on to the line across Deep-dale Fell, past the folds to Gavel Moss where the fox was unkennelled. Heavy mists were encountered, while the frozen snow made the going difficult as St Sunday Crag was reached. Turning on the top with the wind, Reynard made his way around Gavel Pike back across the moss to Blind Cove. Still keeping to the higher altitudes the hunt continued under and through the length of St Sunday Crag, past Deepdale Head to Cofa Pike and forward to Fairfield. When next heard the hunt was returning via Jacobs Well to St Sunday crag. After circling he crag the fox made into Grisedale Valley. Followers on the Tongue witnessed a thrilling hunt across the valley by way of Braysteads sheepfolds to Eagle Crag on the Helvellyn range where again it disappeared into the mist. The course led on under Nethermost Pike, through Ruthwaite Cove, and along Spout Crags to Tarn Crag. At Grisedale Tarn the hunt crossed to Cofa Pike along Deepdale Head, back to St Sunday Crag and Thorn How Fell. Turning into Grisedale Valley, a fast hunt progressed just within the visibility line, through Blind Cove, past the Knotts, over Ash How, to Deepdale Head where the fox went to ground. The day was far spent, but terriers were let in. Reynard was worried but was not drawn until the following day.

Meeting at Deepdale on Saturday, hounds accounted for two foxes. Directly above Hartsop Hall a fox was roused and gave the pack a gruelling chase over the snow covered mountains, through difficult and dangerous ground. Heading for the high fells, Ghyll Crag was reached, and here a second fox was roused causing the pack to split. The main body pursued their fox over Hart Crag to the top of Fairfield. In the teeth of a blizzard a fast hunt turned into Deepdale Head, through the dangerous Greenhow End, back to Gill Crag and across Dove Dale to the Stangs. Reynard led on to Bull Crag, and over the Dod to Fox Bield in Caiston, where the pace began to tell. Turning to Caiston Beck, the fox followed this to the lowlands, near the foot of Kirkstone Pass, and gained ground through his cunning at the hog house, but a little later hounds scored a point on Dod End. Forcing their game to the meadows once more they drove him to Brotherswater Head and overtook him near the main road.

The seven hounds, which gave chase to, the second fox ran through Blake Brow and past Dove Crags to Scandale Head. Keeping to the Rydal side of the horizon, they brought their fox to Fairfield and Grisedale Tarn to St Sunday Crag, then across Deep Dale to Deep Dale Hall fell and Old Wall Head. Reaching Lowwood this small pack was in full cry. Down the wood the foremost hound came on to view and a ding-dong race down the hillside resulted in Reynard being bowled over, almost at the back door of Hartsop Hall. Master John Allen, son of Mr j. V. Allen, Hartsop Hall, who was in at the kill of No 1 fox was enjoying a hot bath when he heard the second hunt approaching. He hastily donned his clothes and rushed to the back door in time to witness the second kill.

The end of this hunt brought the weeks total to five foxes. The total for the season being 21.

The annual Glenridding meet on New Years Day attracted a large attendance in wild weather. Mr. C. R. Farrer deputy master was in charge. Under almost impossible conditions hounds scoured the fells of Glenridding, but each covert was drawn blank, and at 2 o’clock hounds were sent home. BELLMAN

Later that month the hounds were called to deal with a poultry worrier at Whinfell.

Following hen–worrying by foxes in the Whinfell neighbourhood, the Ullswater foxhounds put in a special meet at Crake Trees, under Whinfell Beacon, on Wednesday. Hounds in charge of Joe Wear were cast off on the Beacon, in the presence of many followers from Kendal and the Selside and Grayrigg districts. Wear tried towards Mabbin Crag, on the lower slopes of which hounds spoke to a rain – washed drag. Higher in the crag a fox jumped up among the hounds – an occurrence similar to that which occurred when they were last at Mabbin Crag in November. Reynard managed to get clear and reached the valley where he put in many twists and turns in and out of the stream. He then climbed to Lushington and down the Borrowdale valley, almost reaching the Shap main road. A fit pack was close to his brush, however and affected a kill neat Mr. Metcalf’s house in Borrowdale. The carcase proved to be that of an old vixen.

At the Cow Bridge meet in January 1934, on the Monday, a fox ran onto Helvellyn.

The fresh fox ran through the bracken to Trough Head, back to Thorn How Fell, and continued to St Sunday Crag. Crossing the Grisedale Valley below the Parting Stone he led on through Spout Crags and Ruthwaite to Dollywagon and forward to Helvellyn. Turning in at Striding Edge the hunt passed over Spion How and down to Eagle Crag. By this time, darkness was approaching and hounds were last heard near Helvellyn Wicket. At six o clock 28 hounds were missing, but on Tuesday, all but two had returned. The result of this hunt has not been ascertained, but hounds were collected from places as far apart as Causeway Foot, Keswick and Knott Houses, Grasmere. – BELLMAN

No doubt the huntsman and whip collected them, on foot.

It is often forgotten that in the 1930s and later years too, social events were few and far between in Lakeland, times were hard and money tight and the opportunity to enjoy ones self even if only for a few hours was not to be missed.

More than 200 people attended the fifth annual hunt ball, organised by Selside supporters of the Ullswater Foxhounds, which was held in the school on Friday. The ball as a social event, more than maintained the high standard attained by its predecessors, and the attendance was a record.
Among those present were Mr. C. R. Farrer Deputy Master of the Ullswater pack, Joe Wear (huntsman) and Joe Wilkinson (whip) and during the interval the two first named rendered the hunting songs they sang at the recent broadcast gathering at Troutbeck. The weathered favoured parties coming from a distance and those present included supporters of the hunt from Penrith, Appleby, Tebay, Shap Patterdale, Greyrigg, Burneside, Cartmel and a large number from Kendal.
The room had been decorated with foxes and masks lent by Messrs. W Harrison (Garth Row) J. Wharton (High Borrow Bridge) and others, while a fox killed by the Ullswater on Mabbin Crag two days previously was suspended from a beam and was later presented to Mrs. T. Cooke Kendal, the winner of the spot dance.
Hunting lancers were enlivened by blasts of the huntsman’s horn. A “hunt ball” cake made by Mrs. Dargue, Forest hall and decorated with icing sugar depicting a horse and hounds bearing the name of the huntsman, was won by Mr. H. Knowles, Kendal.

The arrangements were made by a committee consisting of Messrs James Wood. G. Jennings, M.Grisedale, e. Rowlandson and S Thompson, with Mr N. Bousefield as secretary and treasurer, while Mesdames Rowlandson, Ridding, Dixon, Wood, R. Ridding, Johnson, Hetherington and Miss Jennings were in charge of refreshments.

The following hunt shows an example of one of the many tricks a hunted fox will use in a bid to elude their pursuers, that of “binking” on a crag face. Which is to seek refuge on a ledge or in a cranny.

At Gavel Crag the fox turned left-handed across Hayesdale Head, along High Street to the gap, and down Lowther Lot to Hayeswater Foot. Leaving the Ghyll near the Filter House reynard climbed to the top of Windy Brow, and hounds followed at a remarkable speed, though the treacherous Grey Crag and forward to the Raven Crag borran. As hunters were approaching the borran the fox was seen to leave by another exit some distance from where he entered. Before hounds could be persuaded that this had happened Reynard had stolen into the fastnesses of the crag itself, where he “binked”. Two couples of hounds succeeded in dislodging him, and, eventually Roamer overtook him.

Not every hunt‘s conclusion was known on the day as the following illustrates.

The six hounds which were out most of the night on Saturday all returned with the exception of Charmer. This hound was collected from Howtown the next day by Wilkinson, the whip. He learned that a second fox had been killed the previous day and was picked up by a Martindale shepherd. Hounds are in splendid form in spite of the long and gruelling hunts of late. In the last six meets seven foxes have been accounted for.

One of the problems of hunting in Lakeland is the number of crags hounds can fall off.

A fine hound broke its neck on Rangebarrow Crag, while running a fox in Kentmere on Friday. The meet was at Longsleddale and after casting off at Sad Ghyll, hounds worked through Rough Crags to Goat Scar, where a drag was struck at Brown Crag. Reynard broke away and hounds started well together. Taking over the top into Kentmere Pike and down the fell breast by Hart Crag quarries the hunt crossed the foot of Kentmere reservoir. Climbing Ill Bell and down the top into Troutbeck side reynard again turned into Kentmere by Sharrow Crag and the famous Rangebarrow Crag. Charmer, the leading hound, came to grief and fell a considerable distance down the crag, breaking her neck. Fortunately no more hounds lost their feet. The fox took through the quarries and down through the Guards to Tongue Earth, going to ground just in front of hounds. Wear, the huntsman arrived with terriers, but the fox would not bolt. BELLMAN

A further spell of bad weather was encountered in early March 1934.

Mondays meet at Beckstones tool place in temperatures approaching zero. Over the weekend the hilltops had received a slight covering of snow, and a strong easterly wind did not help matters. Under these conditions good scenting could not be expected. At Angle Tarn Ghyll a fox was roused which kept hounds engaged for over four hours. He was viewed away by Mr. J. V. Allen and Master John Allen as he passed Lingy Crag. Hounds got a good start, and a fast hunt was witnessed along Calf Close. Crossing Hartsop valley at the Old Mill, Reynard gained ground through Hartsop Low Dod, but the full pack held on through Raven Crag, Atty Cove and Thresthwaite Mouth to High Street. In the teeth of an icy wind and gale hounds worked hard along High Street to Riggindale Straights. And over Kidsty Pike to Rest Dod. After passing the deer Park via the wicket, it was evident that Reynard ran though a herd of deer, and from this point hounds could only proceed at walking place to Buck Crag. Wear arrived on the scene and hounds were withdrawn at Cat Crags, Angle Tarn. BELLMAN.

The total number of foxes accounted for in February was 13 in 13 meets and the number for the season so far 43.

Not every hunt ended in a kill however, here is a hunt on Helvellyn.

Hunting from the kennels on Saturday there was a large gathering including many members from the Airedale Beagles whose pack hunted in the district over the weekend. Wear cast off in Braysteads Brow and at Dobson’s Spring, strong evidence of Reynard was discovered. Almost as soon as the line was taken a rousing “Tally Ho” came from Mr Tom Teasdale who had gained a vantage point on Bleaberry Crag. Climbing to Striding Edge wicket hounds were hot on the trail, which they held through treacherous ground to Dixon’s Monument, when they crossed over Striding Edge for Helvellyn. At Swirrel Edge the hunt turned into Brown Cove and around Catstycam back to Red Tarn. Reaching Bleaberry Crag once more, Reynard twisted his way through the crag and boulders below. It was evident that the “sly un” was familiar with the dangerous ground in the vicinity of Low Dyke. In all probability his birthplace. He played about in front of his pursuers, from ledge to ledge and crag to crag, refusing point blank to leave the playground of his youth. Finally the challenge was accepted and in the end he was obliged to seek refuge in a stronghold. Hounds were withdrawn shortly afterwards, the fox being left for another day.

The final entry concerns lamb worrying, that yearly curse of the fell farmer who can often see all his year's work and profit lying dead in the lambing field in the space of a few minutes.

Foxes have started lamb-worrying in the Ullswater neighbourhood and following the loss of several newly-born lambs at Hartsop Hall at the weekend, the Ullswater hounds met at 6am on Tuesday and accounted for the culprit after a gruelling run of six hours over snow covered mountains.
The full pack with Joe Wear in charge was cast off at Cow Bridge and tried Low Wood above Brotherswater. Within a few minuites a line was taken and it was not long before Reynard was unkennelled. Hounds got a good start and the valley resounded with a glorious burst of music as they drove their game up into the snow at the head of Dovedale and across the head of Caiston to Red Screes and the top of Kirkstone Pass. Reynard descended to better going and crossed the main road to Hartsop village, where his cunning availed him nothing and he was driven back across the main road to his favourite haunt in Low Wood. Leaving the wood with hounds in full cry he crossed Deepdale and climbed out by Arnison Crag to Glemara Park and Grisedale-the fourth valley through which the hunt had passed. The exact route taken in Grizedale is not known but it is probable that this exceptionally strong fox traversed St Sunday Crag to Fairfield, for when next heard by followers hounds were descending Dove dale for Hartsop and Brotherswater.

Followers waiting near Brotherswater had a thrilling experience as the looked into the snow smothered recesses of Dove Crag and Hart Crag. They could hear thrilling and sustained music but did not see the hounds until the descended below the snow line. Reynard had now been running for six hours, but the hunt did not last much longer. The sure-footed hounds forced the lamb worrier down to the valley at Hartsop Mines and he was eventually bowled over at the back door of Hartsop Hall, on the doorstep of Mr. J.V. Allen the farmer whose lambs it has slain. Reynard crossed seven valleys and must have run well over 25 miles. He was a fine dog fox.

This was the end of Joe Wear’s first season with the Ullswater, the first of many. I hope it gives some idea of the difficulty faced by a fell huntsman in the 1930s. Some of the difficulties persisted until the implementation of the Ban in 1992, others, for example lack of transport and poor veterinary services, did not.

That season, Joe Wear and Joe Wilkinson, overcame snow and ice, especially on the high fell, severe gales and low temperatures, the death of at least one hound, hounds going missing overnight and having to be collected on foot from many miles away there being a lack of transport. No mention is made in the reports of the work entailed in keeping the hounds. The collection of fallen stock to be butchered by the two Joe’s (no doubt in the open), and then fed to the hounds; they also had to keep the kennels clean and injured, ill or lame hounds treated. In the 1930s there were not many vets around and a huntsman or whipper-in had to have a good knowledge of anatomy and medicine in order to keep the pack in good order. The life of a fell huntsman and his whipper-in was hard and at the end of the hunting season they had to find employment for the summer months.

As a child I remember watching Joe Wear hunt hounds, for a while one of my uncles “whipped-in” to him. My father introduced me at Rydal Show; I remember him as a powerfully built man with a red face.

“This is my lad, Joe,” said my father.

Joe looked me over and then shook my hand, “Dusta like hunting?” he asked.

I swallowed my tongue, “Yes, Mr Wear,“ I finally replied.

“Good lad,” he said and gave my head a pat. I still have the dent to this day, he chatted to me for only for a few minutes but my overwhelming memory is how he made a small boy feel like an adult and for that I was grateful. A nothing story perhaps, but to a Lakeland kid it was the equivalent to a child of today meeting David Beckham.

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