W3C See Everything MEMORIES

High Cross
High Cross






Park Fell
Park Fell

There had been a spate of poultry worrying round the village, a few families looking forward to a home grown Christmas dinner had now placed orders with the local butcher and several people had made phone calls to the kennels demanding retribution. With a bye day looming it was thought that the " guilty party" , which was the politest of the many names the fox was called, had been pursued on two previous occasions but both times had eluded the hounds.

In the gardens above Rydal Hall is a clump of rhododendrons easily visible from the main road even to this day, the ground underneath is honeycombed with tunnels and burrows and it was thought this was where the " guilty party" lay up. The bye day was fixed for a mid weekday.

" Not be many out," said Jack over a pint, " some of us have to work. Where are you planning to go?"

I thought for a while. " Climb onto the ridge and look in Rydal Park side," I said, " see everything."

Next morning saw me on the drive to Rydal Hall very early, I'd come by the kennels and the hounds knowing it was a hunting morning were almost in full cry, as I dropped down the field by the beck and onto the drive proper. I remember it being a murky morning, low cloud hung over the tops and there was rain in the air, for a few days prior it had rained and the ground was spongy, rivulets of water ran down the fell side and the streams were full, not the best of conditions for scenting. Climbing out onto Nab Scar End passed the little wood and onto the fell proper, I looked at the time, it was 8am, would need to be high on the ridge, looking into the valley below for the 9am start so I needed to get a move on. It began to rain and a mist blew in up the fell, I climbed higher, the tip of my walking stick occasionally clicking on the stony path and upon reaching the stile in the wall stopped for a blow (rest) and a look around. The mist was well down now and soon I would be in it, shards of mist blew in and out on the gentle breeze and the silence was deafening. My jacket was soaked and drops of water stuck to the material. It was debatable if it was worth continuing in this but I was here now, on holiday and with nothing else to do and a sandwich in my pocket, what more could you want?

Higher up the path I branched off to the right and began to drift over towards the down slope of the ridge on the Rydal Park side, this would enable me to look in to the valley bottom and see the hunt (if any). The fell does not fall away steeply here and it is difficult to find a spot giving a decent view down but finally I convinced myself I had found one and finding a lichen covered rock to rest my back against sat down to wait. In the late 1800's a pipe was laid from Thirlmere to carry water to the thirsty population of Manchester and there is a track running along the line of it into Rydal Park, it was along this track that the hounds first appeared in view, darting and questing with the huntsman in close attendance, my watch read just after 9am, on the main road a couple of Land Rovers parked up and figures got out, leaning against the bonnets, binoculars trained. The rain increased in strength and the mist seemed undecided as to how low it wanted to get, intermittently obscuring the valley floor below me, a few minutes later clearing to show the whole valley. A crash of music showed hounds had hit the line of a fox, the entire pack moved quickly up the Fellside behind the rhododendron clump as if they were going over into Scandal. " Bugger it," I thought as the hounds dropped out of sight into the next valley, the sound of the hunt faded and the followers on the road climbed in their vehicles and drove off to search for another vantage point. I sat in the rain on the mist covered fellside and wondered what to do, a sheep looking even wetter than me loomed up out of the clag, coughed at me and disappeared again into the murk. A few minutes later I heard hounds running, coming back into the valley down the fell side much more spread out than when I had seen them, they paused under a small crag and I thought the fox had gone in but off to one side a hound hit the line and away they all went up the valley side. " Better move," I thought to myself and getting up began to traverse up the ridge, the sound of music was getting closer now and it was obvious the hunt had crossed the river which flows down the valley floor beneath and was coming my way, not only was the hunt coming my way but so was the mist and suddenly I was enveloped, you couldn't see 10 yards, so thick was it. Somewhere in my vicinity was Heron Crag, a substantial drop which I'd rather avoid, and so swinging back I joined up with the Fairfield path and continued in that direction. The hunt had gone quiet now but to my surprise out of the mist came a fox, we both stopped and looked at each other and then he was gone down the fellside towards Grasmere. It transpired that the original hunted fox had passed through Heron Crag but not gone into the borran and I presume the fox I met was another one vacating the area ahead of the hounds, and judging by the speed he went, fairly sharpish too.

That was pretty much the end of my day, the weather worsened as I climbed out finally reaching the summit of Fairfield, I knew the hounds were in the valley below me as an occasional bark reached me on the ridge but I saw nothing. Sitting in the stone shelter on Fairfield summit eating a sodden sandwich I knew there was only one option... I went down.

That night in the pub there was only one topic of conversation. " See out?" asked Jack. I recounted my day. " Good hunt then!" said Jack who went on to recount the day's proceedings that I had not seen. " Got onto it in the Rhododendrons, went over into Scandal and came back in via Brock Crag near enough." He took a long pull on his pint, " Dropped in and crossed the beck, climbed out by Heron Crag into the fell head, where it went to ground, terriers got it. An old vixen, almost toothless." I looked at him. "Did you go then?" I asked." No," he replied, "saw Tommy on my way home, he went up the bottom, saw it all!" I looked at him with an air of incredulity. " There was thick mist," I replied. " Not in the valley bottom," smiled Jack.

Poultry Worrying and other sic like

A Hungry Fox

During the early part of the week a quantity of hens, about half-a–dozen in number, belonging to Mr. J. Banks, of Ambleside, were worried by a fox at their roosting place at Strawberry Bank. In consequence of this the Coniston Foxhounds went up this neighbourhood on Monday morning. A drag, supposed to be that of the delinquent fox was struck, but although a good spin was indulged in along Wansfell and round the vicinity of the Pike, the dogs did not succeed in coming up with their quarry, and another day's sport may yet be had before reynard is brought to book for his depredations.

Lakes Herald 4th December 1896


Langdale shepherds meet provided a blank, so Willie Porter extended his stay. On Monday he threw off at Colwith. Hounds quickly spoke to a drag, which led tot the top of Moss Rigg and Great Intake, reynard aiming for Wetherlam, Treddale and Sam Bottom, turning right handed for Hookriggs and Swirral Hause, through the Band and the middle of Big Carrs to the top of Little Carrs, left-handed for Cockley Beck, past the old bield Borran at a rattling pace, right handed for Cockley Beck bottom to the top of Wrynose Pass, thence into Greenburn over the top to Lang Crag borran where he was run to ground, and worried after half an hour's killing run, every hound being in at the obsequies. He was a fine old dog fox-a proper hen worrier-and nearly all the Little Langdale quarrymen participated in the hunt.

11th December 1920

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