W3C The Kirkstone Shepherds' Meet     HUNTS



 The Memorial window to William Sewell

The Memorial window to William Sewell
in Troutbeck Church (copyright unknown)




 Kirkstone Inn
Kirkstone Inn






Kirkstone Meet


Not as famous as Mardale, this meet was one of many held in the Lake District, today it is the only one in Coniston hunt country.

William Sewell (1781-1869) became curate of Troutbeck in 1827, remaining until his death at the age of 88. For 58 years he was also Headmaster of Kelsick Grammar School, Ambleside. Nevertheless, he still had time to farm his glebe land and would drive his cows down to pasture before attending to his Church duties. While helping shepherds tend their sheep, he is said to have been approached by his Bishop and asked where the incumbent could be found. William replied, “He is before you, my lord; I am he.” When the Bishop suggested that William might be better employed, he was reminded by William that, “when you find me better remuneration (55 p.a.), I can probably afford to lay aside assisting my neighbours; and I shall be very glad to give up tending my sheep.” There are other tales, such as the time he lost his sermon down a crevice between the pulpit and the wall and exclaimed, “T’sarmont’s slipt down i’ t’ neuk and I can’t git it out; but I’ll tell ye what—I’se read ye a chapter o’ the Bible’s worth ten of it.” Another concerns the baptism of child who was fretful and crying. The mother was told to take the child to the vestry and look for a pin that may be pricking. Not being able to find a pin, the priest replied, “Never mind it must have been the Devil coming out.”

On another occasion he leaned over the pulpit before the service and enquired of a member of his congregation, “Have you seen owt o’ two lile sheep o’ mine amang yours? They’re smitten i’ t’ ear like yours but deeper i’ t’ smit.”

When asked to pray for fine weather, he replied to his clerk, “It’s nae use, Tommy, as lang as t’ wind’s i' this quarter.”

Once on arriving at the church the members of the congregation found the door shut and the clerk mounted on a flat tombstone, calmly announcing, “This is to gie notice that there will be nae service in this church for fower weeks, as t’ parson’s best game hen has setten herself i’ t’ pulpit.”

Pass, where William was credited with having had the inn built in 1840. His obituary claims that he knew Wordsworth, Coleridge and de Quincey.

A memorial window in Jesus Church, Troutbeck, representing ‘Christ’s charge to Peter’, has the inscription “In memory of Rev William Sewell 40 years vicar of Troutbeck who died 31 July 1869 aged 88. This window is placed as a token of filial affection by his son Robert Sewell”.


The Windermere Harriers attended this meet in late November 1887. A Westmorland Gazette report goes into the history of the meet and the Kirkstone Pass Inn in a little detail. In the 1840 the incumbent of Troutbeck, Rev Sewell bought a piece of land on the summit of the pass. Upon this land he built a small inn for the “accommodation of tourists.” It very soon became a focal point for the shepherds and flockmasters of the area and became the meeting place for the exchange and restoration of stray sheep. “The late John Longmire, with the assistance of some of his Troutbeck and Patterdale friends pushed the matter forward, while it proved a complete success as the meeting has been the means of restoring many hundreds of stray sheep to their rightful owners.” The effects of the Enclosure Acts however meant that the number of strays declined, but even so the event continued on the 30th November each year, except when it fell on a Sunday. Traditionally the meet was always accompanied by a hunt and in the past the Patterdale Beagles were often involved. The meet then became synonymous with the Ullswater Foxhounds, the Coniston were never involved until the Logan family took charge and the meet was moved down into the Troutbeck valley. The Troutbeck Shepherds' Meet continues to take palace at the Queens Head hotel, but now only involves the Coniston Foxhounds; it is the only Shepherds' Meet that survives in the Coniston hunt country.


The time has at length arrived when we may write almost Ichabold on this once most popular gathering of farmers, shepherds and hunters, and when straying sheep were brought from far off corners of the neighbouring countries, in search of legitimate owners. Much of this sort of thing vanished with the enclosure of commons, and of recent years the hunt has been the most important feature. Yesterday morning seemed in every way suitable for a capital hunt, but the Ullswater foxhounds, which were announced to throw off, in addition to the Windermere Harriers, failed to turn up. The Harriers were on the spot with the master Mr. B. Logan, but only a few were present. At the start there were Messers A. B. Dunlop, G. I. Wigg, Holmes Barker, A. Benson, J. Atkinson, J. Wilson, F. Garnett, and only about two others, whilst at that time, there was but one solitary “lost sheep” though a few others arrived later in the day. The Coniston Foxhounds were out in the neighbourhood of Ill Bell, and the baying of a hound denoted that a fox had gone to ground at Broad How. An excellent dinner was prepared at Kirkstone Inn, but there were very few to demolish the goose and mountain of roast beef, which had been provided. Altogether it was the poorest meet ever remembered at this place, even in the foulest of weather.

Ambleside Herald 1st December 1893

The Kirkstone Shepherds' Meet took place in early December 1894 with the Windermere Harriers catering for both the fox and hare hunts. Anthony Chapman was off early with some hounds for a fox and striking a drag, unkennelled in Woundale and ran into Broad How, the fox was bolted and killed near the Inn. Robin Logan cast off the remainder of the pack later in the morning for the hare hunt and had a fine chase up the valley. When the fox hunt was over Anthony took his hounds and joined in with the others.

Yesterday was the annual Shepherds' Meet at Kirkstone, and once more an unfortunate day was experienced, the valleys and hill being enveloped in November fog and low drizzle.

Lakes Herald 23rd November 1906


Although the elements were at war good sport was afforded by the Coniston Foxhounds and Windermere Harriers on Saturday, on the occasion of the Kirkstone Shepherd’s Meet, and in spite of great driving blasts of mist and sleet which obscured the summits of Red Screes and the adjoining mountains there was a most excellent gathering of shepherds and hunters. The bad weather prevented a large number of stray sheep being brought in but by means of the meeting, about thirty waifs and strays were restored to their rightful owners.

Mr. T. Bell of Grove Farm and Mr. Noble Gregg of Kentmere Hall Farm, acted as fold masters to distinguish the various markings of the lost Herdwicks.

The Coniston Foxhounds in the charge of Mr. Bruce Logan as master, with George Chapman as huntsman cast off in Sweden Rough Sides and almost immediately Countess and Trinkett proclaimed a drag. Simultaneously Telfer, Fairy, and Cracker took another drag. The first one led through Pinch Crags, over Snarker Moss, in by Pett’s Quarry, and through the breast of Red Screes to Chimney Crag where Reynard was unkennelled. He afforded a good view through the Screes breast and was making downwind towards the gravel sprinkled main road, but was met by Messers J. Logan, J. Bell, H. Boys and C Fuller, and turned for Caiston Dod, round Dod Bields, by the Straits for Little Hart Crag and Dove Crag. Hounds were too hard at his brush to allow him to find refuge in this well-known stronghold and he therefore made out by Deepdale Head over the top of Fairfield, crossing Grizedale Tarn Foot, and coming via Willy Wife Moor and Dollywagon Pike for Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag. Random, Chanter and Stormer were running him hard and forced him down to Beckstones, opposite Deepdale Hall, where they rolled him over, and the carcase of a fine 15lb dog fox was lifted by Mr. Jos Wilkinson of Glencoin after about a three-hour’s run.

The Windermere Harriers, with Tom Chapman huntsman, put a hare off in Sour Crags which made round by Brackney Becks on to the road, and then returned into Sour Crags, and in the neighbourhood of here and the Grassings put in one or two exciting rings before being pulled down in sour Crags after an hours run.

Mr. Robert Dixon provided a welcome repast at the Traveller’s Rest, and afterwards a convivial evening was spent in music under the chairmanship of Mr. W. Jackson.

In addition to the master and huntsman there were present at the meet Messers. J. and R. Logan (Lowwood). W. Gaddum (Brockholes). M. Black (Kirkstone Foot). J. Hudson (Long Green Head). J. Fawcett (Wood Farm). W. Leck (Fisherbeck Farm). J. and T. Bell (Grove Farm) J. Parker (Hart Head Farm). G. Walker (Town End Farm) J. Leak (Troutbeck Park). J. Wilson (Hartsop). E. Thwaites (Hartsop Hall). L. Wilson (Hartsop). W. Poole (Langdale). I. Powley, R. Chapman, (Rydal Farm). J. A. Jackson, H. Jackson, H. Boys, C. Boys, W. Skelton, J. Newton, W. Jackson, A. H. Tyson. B. and F. Black, J. Greenhow (Ambleside). R. Hall (Thrang Crag). J. Ward (Sedbergh). W. T. Palmer (Kendal) and others.

Lakes Herald 5th December 1913


Local shepherds were rather more favoured with the weather on Saturday as notwithstanding that Friday night was one of almost unexampled violence and rain, the annual shepherd’s gathering at Kirkstone Top was marked by one of the few fine days which have favoured this event during recent years. A record number of sheep, over 100, were brought in for exchange, notwithstanding the large number—also a record—at the neighbouring meet at Mardale the previous week, which were restored. Messers, T. Bell, J. Gregg and J. J. Leak assisted in distinguishing the various sheep marks and the lost Herdwicks were all claimed.

The occasion of these shepherds' meets is invariably an excuse for a hunt, as no gathering of flock masters or shepherds can be considered complete unless the hounds are present as well as sheep dogs. The Coniston Foxhounds once more arranged a meet, and Mr. Robin Logan was in command with George Chapman as huntsman. The water logged state of the ground owing to Friday night’s deluge put hunting out of the question, but all the same a persevering search was made from behind Kirkstone House through Woundale, over Broad How, to Threshthwaite Mouth, round Caudale Moor, without yielding signs of reynard.

Tom Chapman with the Windermere Harriers had better luck, casting off along Red Screes a hare was put off in Pett’s Breast which was brought over into Scandale, turning in by Great Grassings, down Sour Crags, coming back by Pett’s Lot and again making a ring of Sour Crags, thence to Low Pett’s where she was put off afresh, and being hard pushed down Sour Crag’s climbed Great Grassings down past Glenthorne, being finally rolled over near Brackney Beck after a 2.5 hour hunt. Mr. W. Salkeld, who along with Mr. T. Bell (the latter having attended about 30 times) is a frequent attender at this meet, presided over the subsequent singsong, the hunters being first of all regaled by a sumptuous dinner provided by the genial landlord Mr. R. Dixon. Those present at some part of the proceedings included Messers R. Logan, T. G. and R. Chapman, J. and T. Bell, W. Salkeld, T. Benson, J. Leak, J. Gregg, W. Jackson, C. Dixon, R. Dixon, A. H. Cooper, W. C. Skelton, T. M. Ford, W. Dugdale, C. Fuller, R. Banks, G. Forsyth, C. Dove, N. Wilson, J. M. Bowran,

Lakes Herald 4th December 1914

For reasons I have never been able to find, the meet was moved down the valley to Troutbeck where it is still held.

Kirkstone Inn

Strays Returned to the Fold: Disappointing Hunt

There was an unusually large number of stray sheep for identification at Troutbeck yesterday (Thursday) at the time-honoured shepherds’ meet. A bitterly cold northeast wind swept down the valley from High Street and Kirkstone Pass and the shepherds were handicapped in collecting the waifs and strays on the surrounding fells. Shepherds arrived throughout the morning and early afternoon until the big communal pen at the rear of the Queen’s Head Hotel contained nearly 120 Herdwicks, roughs, and Swaledale cross ewes, shearlings and lambs. It is a source of never-ending interest to townsmen to see the fold masters pronouncing the name of the owner and he original home of a stray sheep by merely glancing at the ear, horn, or wool marks. A shepherd can recognise one of his own sheep among a large flock, knowing its face almost as well as a man knows the face of humans.


The Coniston Foxhounds, with Mr Bruce Logan (Master), Ernest Parker (huntsman) and Anthony Chapman (whip) were in attendance, but as they made over to Kentmere to cast off they were not seen again in the Troutbeck valley.

Among others present were Mr R Logan (deputy Master), Mrs Duder (Ambleside), Miss Mary Hudson (Orrest), Messrs J Brown (Kentmere), G Grundy (Rydal), G Chapman, H Hutchinson (Lindale), J Clifton (Witherslack), EW Bell (Kendal), FE Charlton (Cartmel Fell), R Clapham and R Buckley (Troutbeck).

Followers had a disappointing experience, for hounds were out for nearly seven hours without any sign of a hunt. The arctic conditions were responsible for this, and a large area of country, including such “smittle” spots such as Rangebarrow Crag, Threshthwaite Mouth, Blue Ghyll and Park Quarries were visited in vain.

Westmorland Gazette 28th October 1933


Friday morning was fine for the shepherds' annual meet at Troutbeck, but the afternoon deteriorated and visibility for hunting became very poor. There was a good muster of shepherds, flockmasters and hunters at the Queens Head Hotel. About 150 or 160 waifs and strays, mostly Herdwicks and Swaledale cross with a few Poughs, were restored to their owners.

Among those who brought consignments were Mr. J. V. Allen (Hartsop Hall), Mr. J. Fishwick (Hartrigg), Mr. Gibson (Kentmere Hall), Mrs. W. B. Heelis (Troutbeck Park, represented by Mr. George Walker), Messers J. and W. Hudson (Long Green Head Farm) and others. Messers W. Brownrigg and W. Leck were in charge of the fold and had no trouble in identifying the sheep marks.


Coniston foxhounds attracted a good following under their veteran Master Mr. W. B. Logan, with E. Parker huntsman and A. Chapman whip. They threw off near Idle Lane and searched through J. Poole’s Lot, traversing the Hundreds and Hallylands. At Swine Crag there was evidently more than one fox afoot, and hounds took the main hunt by Broad End, Caudale moor into Hartsop, where they were running until it was very late.

In the meantime, the Windermere Harriers under W. Powley huntsman drew Wightman Lot blank then went forward to Long Green Head, where they roused a hare which gave a good hunt: in fact one of the best of the season. She took up by the wire fence towards Garburn gate, and then circled back to near where she was put off, climbing out on this occasion on to the breast of Yoke. She then came in a cross the meadows, hounds giving a merry jingle as they pursued her down to the beck where she was lost. It was very good hunting and puss was fortunate in making her escape without paying the penalty, after a hunt lasting an hour and ten minutes.

The numerous hunters present at the Shepherds' Meet enjoyed a steaming “Tatie pot” provided by Mr and Mrs. Richardson at the “Queens Head”. In addition to those already mentioned there were Messers. R and J. Logan, Mr. G. Somerville (Clappersgate), Mr. Steve Porter (Blackpool), Messers D. and H. Livingstone (Kendal), R. Clapham, R. Cole, T. Armstrong (former Mayor), Mrs. Rigg, Mr and Mrs. B. L. Thompson, Mr and Mrs. M. Black, Messers T. Chapman, J. Breakwell, Jas. Hudson, A. Capstick, T. Burns. T. Hewertson, Jackson, Stables, J. Leak, Hugh Hudson, J. Bland, Mrs. J. Webb, John Stables, N. Wilson, H. Winder, A. Poole, Jos Bibby, T. Bland (ex Mayor), John Hudson, Arthur Wilson, Strickland Poole, Jos Kirkby, R. Dixon, R. Taylor, T Armstrong (Mayor), E. Hughes (Kendal), W. Beaumont, E. Wilshaw, T. Parker, Mrs Deudar, Mrs. A. Booth, Miss A. Coward, Mrs B. Lilly, R. Cook, C. Clark, W. Bell, G. Walker, Anthony Benson and others.

Westmorland Gazette 26th November 1938


There were 150 “strays” from the fells at Troutbeck Shepherds' annual Meet yesterday (Thursday) and yardmen Messrs. W. Leck and W. Brownrigg spent a busy two hours identifying the sheep from their marks and restoring them to their owners. The strays were brought to the yard behind the Queen’s Hotel from all parts of Southern Lakeland, including Troutbeck fell head, Kentmere, Longsleddale, Mardale, Hartsop and the Kirkstone, with shepherds present from as far away as Grasmere. Mr. S. T. Beaumont was again the hard working secretary, and after a morning hunt with the Coniston Foxhounds and the identification of the strays during h afternoon, the gathering concluded with a sing–song.

Westmorland Gazette 9th November 1946


After days of fine hunting weather, it was unfortunate that the Troutbeck Shepherds’ Annual Meet at the Queens Head on Thursday last week should be marred by dull, murky conditions. A good crowd however followed Anthony Chapman and the Coniston Pack on foot and by car, and part of the chase, which ended in a kill at Grasmere, was seen by the more fortunate. The fox was put up near Bank End on the Kirkstone Pass and went by the Grove, round hill and Scandale before being pulled down behind the Hollins at Grasmere.

At the Queens Head, a “tattie hotpot” lunch was served and the usual large band of farmers and shepherds brought in their strays to be sorted and claimed. Of the 80 odd sheep, three were unclaimed, obviously being far from their native heath.

Mr. W. Brownrigg was in charge of the pen, his partner Mr. W. Leck, of Dove Nest being unable to attend through illness. Mr. W. Beaumont again officiated as hon. secretary.

The proceedings culminated in the customary singsong and the huntsmen were there to join in, having walked to Grasmere and back over the fells

Westmorland Gazette 27th November 1954

It was the poorest scenting week the Coniston pack has experienced for many years for the Shepherds' Meet week at Troutbeck. Starting from The Howe on Tuesday, hounds found on Borrans Lot and this fox came back to a hole there after a nice hunt towards Kentmere down the top for Croft Head and Reston Scar and then back by Grassgarth, Far Orrest and Moor How. He was bolted and overtaken soon afterwards.

Scenting was hopeless on Saturday when a fox from the Hundreds crossed Kirkstone Road for Herd Wood and climbed over the Tongue up to Park Quarries. Bolted from there he went over into Kentmere in a blizzard and hounds were next heard at Ill Bell, but lost him at Thornthwaite Crag.

Westmorland Gazette 26th November 1971

wafWebsite manager

Unless otherwise 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