W3C Songs of the Carlisle Otterhounds   SONGS



The Lake District is well supplied with lakes, rivers and streams and at certain times in history otters were plentiful. Victorian times saw the formation and rapid growth of angling clubs who soon clashed with the resident otter population. Hunting and persecution of the otter was not new however, this had begun in the time of the vermin act of Henry V111. However in Victorian times it was more organised, many packs sprang up, some lasted long, many did not. The Carlisle Otter Hounds began in 1863 and were one of the longer lasting packs, here are some of their songs

The Carlisle Otter Hounds

From Stanwix Bank Tom Parker’s horn
Peals thro’ the morning air
And every sportsman in Carlisle
Arises from his lair.

Down thro’ the vale with loud halloo
Rings many a hearty cheer
And hunters, hounds and whippers in
Pursue their fleet career.

High on the bank each hunter keen
Beholds the stirring scene
And Belfry’s voice o’er all the pack
Is heard at Wetheral Green.

The morning sun in burnished gold
Now tips the eastern sky
While bold Tom Parker and his hounds
Keep up the thrilling cry.

Then musing on each well known spot
With legend brimming o’er,
I people yonder lovely green
With warriors many a score

I conjure up old Belted Will
By fell enchanter’s spell;
I arm him well with spear and sword,
And ring his last death knell.

O, peerless river, glide along
Thr’o rocks and hazely glen;
Romantic theme of Border song
Inspire my feeble pen.

A roaring “drag” at Etterby
Rings out the welcome sounds,
And music from a hundred throats
Comes from those noble hounds.

Now, lead on brave Tom Parker,
On this enchanted morn,
Ho! Swimmer, Towler, Stormer, tough
D’ye ken your huntsman’s horn?

Ho ! Ranger, Boozer, Spartan, Rock
Cross o’er yon lofty scaur;
Ho! Kelpie, Sailor, gallantly
Yell out the din of war.

Across the stream the hunted brute
In mortal terror flew,
While baying at his very heels
Howls that relentless crew.

On Grinsdale Island, high and dry,
The “varmint” takes his stand;
And coolly views the eager hounds
From that small scrap of land.

Now Countess, Cobbler, Royalty,
Grand hunters to the fore;
Rush on the spiteful “varmint” now,
And revel in his gore.

Young Kendal Brown has got his eye
On that fierce otters tail,
Quick thro’ the stream he rushes, and
Attacks him “tooth and nail.”

Down in the pool young Kendal Brown,
A stalwart hunter bold,
Is diving with that otter dog,
But cannot keep his hold.

Now grand old Belfry, in a trice,
Is swimming through the tide,
And Tinker, Wig, and Whisky are
Close by the veteran’s side.

The tug of war has come at last,
Old Rockwood is the cry,
Randy and Eden to the front,
For now the brute must die.

Thro’ wood and glen the echoes ring,
The creature is no more,
And hunters on the Rockcliffe side
Cross to the Beaumont shore.

Adieu, then, stout Tom Parker,
Whene’er you hunt again,
I’ll follow thee, o’er bank and scaur,
In spite of wind and rain.

(Tom Parker was huntsman to the C.O.H 1890 – 1896)

Carlisle Otter Hounds

The Carlisle Otter Hounds are a pack of renown,
You’ve seen them oft hunt by the banks up and down,
You’ve follow’d them far in the woods and vales,
And oft has told of their work in your tales,
Their hunting and work you oft have seen,

On the banks of the Irthing when lovely and green.
I yance saw the hunt in the far away Hodder,
They hunted some hours a good game otter,
The Lancashire and Yorkshire folks cheered with delight,
To see those hounds hunting was a great sight,
The game often tried to give hounds the slip,
But old Fiddler secured him with a firm grip.

I often think of a hunt in the Eden,
It lasted from morn until the even,
The game escaped but a grand hunt was seen,
By the famed Corby woods, when lovely and green,
There’s no finer sight or prettier scene
Than the woods I’ve named when all is serene.

I’ll tell you another hunt of the best,
Twas in the Lyne that runs to the Esk,
They put off the quarry below Muckle Linns,
It took to the woods through heather and whins,
This game good otter at last it was beat,
Old Rock bowled it over near the Captain’s Seat.

Hen good luck to those hounds and all hunters too,
With the Master and huntsman, good health to you,
They’ve shown you good sport more times I could tell,
Then stand by them all, and keep all things well,
And do what you can for this gallant good pack,
Then Carlisle Otter Hounds will never look back.

Then hear’s to auld Cumberland, of all hunting fame,
You’ve owned many sons that’s made a great name,
In hunting and warfare then lads be all true,
And show this great Empire, what you can do,
And though your paths be up hill and down,
May you keep Carlisle Otter Hounds a pack of renown.

Carlisle Otter Hounds

D’ye ken J. W. Graham with his pack so renown,
They hunt all the rivers around Carel town,
They work all the Caldew, the Wampool and the Esk,
With Irthing, the Lyne, and O’Eden the best.

Yes I ken J. W. Graham, Vetch and Amos too
Along with Wood and Nichol, they make pleasure,
They work hard for hunting, the trio they do,
To set it on a footing so grand and so true.

D’ye ken that bitch that makes a good mark,
She was bred a few miles across from the Sark,
She never gives tongue till a sure find,
And is very anxious to leave naught behind.

Yes I ken that bitch and her offspring too,
They have hunted many otters in the presence of you,
They swam to and fro with an echoing ring,
That made the woods sound like birds on the sing.

Now drink J. W. Graham, Vetch and Amos, too,
Along with Wood and Nichol, we wish good health too
Then long may you live and show us good spot,
For you are men of the right hunting sort.

Then here’s to Parker Huntsman with his game little pack,
We trust they will prosper and never look back,
Then come all you lovers and join in the sport,
For the Carlisle Otter Hounds are second to naught.

Then here’s to old Carlisle out ancient little town,
You have seen many a hunt from banks up and down.
Then come all you sons, and follow her track,
For she claimed a pack a hundred years back.


Sandy, The Huntsman

Now, Sandy, brace your iron nerves, the bugle sounds afar,
This morn we meet at four o’clock beyond the Scottish bar,
Nigh where the Roman legions once pitched their mighty tent,
Nigh Esk and Liddle’s trysting-place both man and dog are bent,
Ho! Farmers of Kirklinton-listen to the glorious sounds,
List to the deep mouth baying, of the Carlisle Otter Hounds.

Hark! ho the dogs are coming, mid the bustle and the din,
And loud the hills re-echo ere we reach the moated linn,
As we view the famous huntsman, marching proudly in the vann,
Our hearts are beating wildly, both the hearts of dog and man,
Then shouts the gallant Carrick from the topmost of the mounds,
Three cheers for otter hunting, and the Carlisle Otterhounds!

Now the lads of Nichol Forest are to the front this day,
And hunters from the Liddle side make haste to join the fray,
While many a Border Reiver’s son, whose old profession’s gone
Pulls on his stoutest hunting boots and jumps his nag upon,
And Elliot’s bold and Armstrong’s true forsake their hunting grounds,
To follow Carrick’s banner and the Carlisle Otterhounds.

Ho! Tis a gallant muster roll at such an early hour,
To meet the Eskdale Beagles at Gilnockie’s Border Tower,
We must cross the Esk and Liddle and gain the Scottish side,
So we bound upon our horses and we stem the double tide,
When a cheering note of welcome from the Vale of Esk resounds,
A glorious shout of triumph from the Carlisle Otterhounds.

Ere the mornings sun had rested on Criffel’s distant hill,
We had scented our first otter and made an early kill,
While shepherd’s from their mountain tops had left their flocks to roam
And pitmen, black as n******, join the hunt at Knottyholme,
On we sped along the valley, not reckin of our wounds,
Like a tempest down the river swept the Carlisle Otterhounds.

Hark! Now the dogs are speaking, there’s a “varmint” in the wind,
Old “Thunder’s” fair upon his track, tho “Belfry” made the find,
Now, Nichol Forest, to the front and lead the grand foray.
A great and noble trophy is within thy reach today!
But wat ever such a hunter? It was worth a thousand pounds,
When Carrick tailed the otter for the Carlisle Otterhounds.

But alas! The chase is over, and our tears are falling fast,
For the famous huntsman’s bugle-horn has blown its final blast,
Tho gazing on his lifeless form seems like a hideous dream,
Tis one sad proof that he has crossed yon overwhelming stream,
Each noble hound gave one loud howl and held his panting breath,
As the prince of hunters lay within the arms of death.


Sandy, The Carlisle Otter Hunter

O’er yon grand old Border City the Fiery Cross had sped,
Then leapt each mighty hunter like a giant from his bed;
There never was a brighter morn nor yet a louder cheer,
There never was a huntsman with a ringing voice so clear,
Nor eager such a pack of hounds and terriers rank and file,
As those which Sandy hunted for the Squires of proud Carlisle.

Far away among the mountains, around by Grasmere Fells,
Where the Moorcock holds high carnival among the heather bells
A beacon rose on every hill, and blazed thro’ every glen,
And Kendal, Shap, and Oxenholme sent all there hunting men.
The trump-tongued Troughton, Teasdale and the Lord of Dallam,
Crossed Dunmail Raise and Silver How before the witching hour.

Bold hunters from the Cheviot hills and from the Otterburn
Resolved they’d see that otter-hunt, or never home return,
From many a dale in Westmorland and many a mountain ridge,
From deepest glens in Cumberland, to meet at Warwick Bridge,
Before the sun had kissed the hills, on Weth’rals lovely plain,
Those hounds gave solemn warning that an otter would be slain.

Up rose the Graham of Beanlands, proud scion of his race,
The first to sniff the freshening breeze and join the maddening chase.
And ever in the forefront with his bright and fearless smile,
Strode the prince of otter hunters, the pride of all Carlisle,
Towered the battlements of Corby above the.................,
While the Queens of bonnie Cumberland had met upon that green.

Now by the rood, yon orb of morn shoots forth his beams at last,
And Carrick’s, Steels, and Phillipses come crowding thick and fast’
With Slater’s “Tweedmouth” from Carlisle, and Forster’s “Border Queen,”
Who’ve measured blades o’er all the land, where champion dogs have been,
Far o’er Bewcastle’s rugged waste the huntsman’s bugle sounds,
And our hearts with wild emotion cheer the Carlisle Otter Hounds.

Now rouse ye up, my merry men, bold “Thunder” breaks the spell,
And “Rockwood” peals a louder note that echoes oe’r Scawfell,
From Warwick Bridge and Fishing Tower reverberates the cry,
And “Stormer,” “Wig,” and “Whisky,” each resolves to do or die,
Gigantic “Belfry’s” music thro’ the Vale of Eden rings,
And like a lion from his den, the massive “Luther” springs.

Now on the bank, now in the stream, the hunted creature flew,
And every hound in Sandy’s pack a note of triumph blew,
Across to Brackenbank he swept past Folly’s sacred fane
Oe’r bank and brae and lofty crag and thro’ the stream again,
Then from among the shelving rocks, again he stems the flood,
And sandy grips him by the tail, while “Swimmer” drinks his blood.

O, listen, gallant hunters all, this ditty’s not a song,
Tis a dirge about a huntsman, who hunted well and long,
Who led the hounds for twenty years in many a stubborn fight,
First in the field at break of day, last in the field at night,
And then the news ran through the land that Sanderson was dead;
That he’d left a lonely orphan, and that orphan wanted bread,
Ho, for a “meet,” a glorious meet” bold sportsmen of the north.
Provide for Sandy’s bairn, and prove you value Sandy’s worth.

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