W3C Cragfast, Pot Holed & Generally Stuck HOUNDS

















Ullswater Foxhounds
Ullswater Forxhounds


Particulars reached Penrith on Saturday night, of an unusual incident in connection with mountain fox hunting. The Ullswater foxhounds have been hunting on the Helvellyn range. One day last week the pack of twenty-four hounds disappeared into an old lead mine, which is entered by a level. The workings go a long way under the mountain, but are chiefly dangerous through the roof giving way. One of the hunters, Jack Munroe volunteered to enter the mine; at his second attempt he reached the hounds that had chased the fox a considerable distance underground and affected a kill. Munroe brought out the carcass.

The Scotsman 8th November 1909


This week George Chapman and the Coniston Foxhounds have been hunting in the Coniston neighbourhood and on Tuesday and Wednesday had a thrilling experience. In running their fox through Dow Crags on Tuesday afternoon, seven hounds became crag-fast in a very difficult place and things looked very black against them being rescued. Three men however, were let down the face of the crag with ropes and each hound was separately roped and hauled into safety. The difficult and dangerous task was accomplished by the following afternoon.

Lakes Herald 24th March 1911

Another Promising Hound Dashed To Death

CONISTON FOXHOUNDS - As was recorded in last week’s issue, the above hounds had a thrilling experience on Dow Crags at Coniston, seven of them being crag fast and not rescued for about 24 hours. Unfortunately one of the hounds, the promising young bitch Charmer, appeared to have stolen back on a fresh hunt, and got crag fast in the same place. But this was not discovered till later. On Sunday she was heard howling, and a rescue party tried to reach her, but before they could get there Charmer had fallen down the crag and was dashed to death.

Lakes Herald 31st March 1911

Memorial to Charmer
A memorial stone was erected to Charmer


On Saturday, Joe Bowman with Messers. W. H. Marshall (master). C. R. Farrer (secretary), Joe Richardson, and Mr. Carr of the Albrighton Foxhounds, with about half the pack (the other half being with the whip, B. Wilson in Troutbeck) took a hunt at Thorn How, which led up the meadows. The line held for St. Sunday Crag to Ruthwaite Lodge, the fox being unkennelled in Eagle Crag. Four couples struck their game, Clasher and Merry getting crag fast. Mr. Carr at considerable risk helped to liberate them. He also freed a sheep, which had become fast. It was in a fearfully emaciated condition, having been there for some weeks, and was merely a framework of skin and bone and wool. Mr. T. Teasdale assisted him. The poor animal was so weak it could hardly stand, and could easily be held in one hand, so light had it become through starvation. The nearest farmers were acquainted. Meantime the fox had gone through the breast for Striding Edge, crossing by Red Tarn foot and Cachedecam, out by Brown Cove for Helvellyn. After being chased in the Wythburn side for some time, the fox returned by Nethermost Cove, and went to ground in Nether Pike, near which place it is said the rare holly fern grows. It was impossible to make anything out and the fox was left. On his way back, however, Joe Bowman accounted for a family of cubs.

Westmorland Gazette 7th May 1921

Hound Freed After 3 days

Mounter, four year old hound of the Ullswater pack, wagged his tail wearily and took a drink of warm milk and whisky to celebrate the end yesterday of his three days of captivity in a fox’s lair.

Diggers found him trapped 20 ft beneath the face of Swarthfell near Penrith, Cumberland; fast asleep beside the body of the fox he had followed.

The Bulletin 20th October 1924

Descent over Crags
Huntsman’s Perilous Search
Hounds Rescued in Gale

In order to rescue two hounds crag fast in Fairfield’s Mountains., Westmorland. Braithwaite Wilson, huntsman of the Ullswater Foxhounds, was lowered over the crags by a rope for 300 feet on Saturday. This feat, which was successful, was carried out in a gale with flurries of snow. When Wilson was hauled back to safety by his companions he was badly numbed by exposure.

In Wind And Snow

Wilson was lowered over the crags with a rope by three Lakeland shepherds-Tom and Edward Teasdale and John Boott-who played out 500 feet of rope before they received from Wilson the signal that he had reached his objective, a narrow shelf of rock with a sheer drop on either side. On the shelf were the crag fast hounds, and the rescuers were guided in their quest by their cries, as, owing to the raging snowstorm and the position of the ledge, the hounds were invisible.

Wilson had to lie flat on the ledge owing to the force of the gale, while one hound after another was hauled to safety by the men above. Then began the task of pulling Wilson back, his body sometimes spinning on the rope in mid air, and the men above were afraid of the rope cutting on the jagged rocks. The hazard and difficulty of the descent and ascent of the rock face made rescue work extend over three hours.

New snow laying on a frozen crust of old snow also rendered climbing dangerous. When Wilson was hauled up his body was benumbed and he suffered from exposure. The hounds recovered after attention.

Heard On The Storm

Interviewed yesterday, Wilson said he was taking the pack across the pass between Grasmere and Patterdale on Thursday night, as the hounds had been hunting in Wordsworth country during the earlier part of the week. After reaching the kennels in Patterdale it was discovered that a couple of the hounds were missing. On Friday as they had not returned, he set out in search of them.

Towards night, when on a buttress of the Fairfield Mountains, he heard carried on the gale, cries which were unmistakably those of hounds. It was then too dark to allow him to locate them, but on Saturday he went out with Tom and Edward Teesdale and John Scott with climbing ropes.

The huntsman went on to explain that they ultimately reached a point on the mountains above Grisedale, which gave them occasional glimpses of the crags below, and at last they were able to make out brown patches that proved to be the two missing hounds lying on the snow on a ledge of rock.

Wilson is a powerfully built young Dalesman who has been with the hounds since boyhood, and was whipper in to the Ullswater Pack before becoming huntsman six years ago.

The Glasgow Herald 7th April 1930

With thanks to Jim Murdoch

Daring Rescue of Dog In Lakeland

The bronze medal and certificate of the R.S.P.C.A. have been awarded to Mr. James Bewley for his courage in rescuing a dog from Helm Crag, Grasmere.

A terrier was imprisoned from early one Tuesday in May til the following Saturday evening 40 feet down a hole, the entrance to which was at the summit of the crag.

Several people abandoned rescue efforts on the Thursday evening owing to the roof and sides giving way.

Walking round on Saturday evening. Mr. Bewley decided to try to reach the dog. Crawling in headfirst he called the dogs name and it answered and he found it located at the bottom. Under the light from torches Mr. Bewley removed the debris and cleared a way to the dog.

The society has also sent a letter of appreciation to Teddy Tyson, aged 14½ years who accompanied Mr Bewley to the crag.

Westmorland Gazette 15th March 1944

Hunt Terriers Rescued
Trapped Three Days Near Hawes

After three days entombment in loose rocks below Hawes End Crag, Wensleydale, two crossbred Lakeland Border terriers belonging to the Lunesdale Pack were rescued on Saturday.

The terriers, 12 months old Rock, and 4 years old Tim owned by Mr. W. Mason of Dent, were put into the rocks after a fox had gone to ground there during a hunt. The terriers killed the fox, but were unable to get out again because of the fox’s body.

Several tons of rock had to be moved before the terriers could crawl out to safety. They were unharmed and well.

Westmorland Gazette 15th November 1957


After being lowered 170ft by ropes down a disused mine shaft on the Carrock fells, the huntsman of the Blencathra Foxhounds, 35-year-old John Richardson, rescued two terriers, which had been entombed for two days. The ground level entrance was blocked by boulders, making it impassable.

Cumberland and Westmorland Herald 8th March 2003
(25 years ago section)

I had a brief trawl through the local newspaper archives but was unable to find any reports relating to this, so I emailed Pete Davis who runs the Blencathra web site. Here is his reply.

Hi Ron

Johnny was 35 yrs old in 1954

Not sure of the story or location but believe it was a mineshaft in Brandy gill in the Caldbeck fells.

Barry remembers his mum & dad telling him about it when he was a boy---he cant remember the names of the terriers.


Thanks to Pete Davies and Barry Todhunter.

Coniston Foxhounds

Friday’s hunt took them from Ireland Grassing into Longsleddale and a fast hunt went on through Goat Scar into Harter Fell, where the pack divided. Followers saw one fox killed and the same night a visitor to Staveley hunt ball informed them that a second kill took place at Thornthwaite Hall. A terrier, trapped in a borran at Rangebarrow Crag was rescued on Saturday after four days underground.

Westmorland Gazette 13th March 1948

The Lunesdale

One notable happening in the hunting world was the escape of Smuts, the five-year-old Border terrier belonging to Major G. R. Williams, Lilymere, after 11 days in a limestone underworld on Leck Fell. Smuts, a terrier which has worked with the Kendal and District Otter Hounds, as well as the Lunesdale pack, forced his way past the dead fox and came to the food and straw at the hole mouth on Friday morning, so that when Mr Arthur Swettenham made his routine visit, he had a welcome surprise at a stage when hope was becoming more and more slender. The terrier had made it’s own way out of a place where no rescue work could be done, and after veterinary attention it has made a splendid recovery. TALISMAN

Westmorland Gazette 13th March 1954

Not only terriers became trapped underground, occasionally hounds too became fast, sometimes slipping underground when followers or the huntsmen, working at the borran were not keeping an eye on them. Occasionally, they got in before anyone got to the place where the fox had gone to ground.

The Lunesdale
Leck Fell Pothole Rescue of Two Hounds

Nearly 100 followers attended Lunesdale’s meet at Park House, Cowan Bridge. A line was taken at once in Spring Wood and a fox was roused in Easgill, which headed for Leck Fell. After going round by Leck Fell House reynard went to ground in Fenwick Allotment. Terriers were entered, and some time later the huntsman noticed that crack hound Bellman was not at the hole, though he had been on the hunt. There were several entrances to the place, and on finding that both Bellman and Glider were missing, Walter Parkin crawled in some 12 feet in the biggest limestone hole, shouted for Bellman, and immediately heard the hound reply from somewhere below. The huntsman then discovered a vertical shaft down which the hounds had apparently fallen. Helpers went off to collect pot holing rescue ropes, lamps and sacks, after which the huntsman, carrying a lamp and with a rope tied round him crawled the 12 feet and was lowered nearly 30 feet to the bottom of the shaft some six feet in diameter. Here he found both Bellman and Glider, both with cuts and bruises and one at a time he placed them in a sack, tied the rope round them and they were hauled up. He came up last, somewhat shaken after an unnerving experience, to make a happy ending to what could have been a tragedy for the pack had the “incident” occurred on a misty day and no one got to the place – as so often happens in fell foxhunting. Both hounds will be out of action for a time.

Westmorland Gazette 27th February 1954


Mounter, one of the leading hounds of the Ullswater pack of fell foxhounds, was entombed for over three days in the notorious Bower Earth at Howtown at the weekend when he was over zealous and crept in to rock crevices from which he could not get out.

It was before midday on Saturday that the hound, now running its fourth season was the first to reach Bower Earth when a fox went to ground there., and before followers could prevent him, had crept into the mass of rocks forming the borran. Terriers accounted for the fox and emerged safely, but there was no sign of the hound and followers spent the rest of Saturday in removing rocks in an attempt to liberate him.

All day on Sunday a dozen volunteers continued the work, starting at a low level to drive a shaft through, but it was an immense task, rendered dangerous by the liability of other rocks to move on being undermined. On Monday, the third day, Whipper-in George Black, assisted by Edward Poole of Glenridding and the brothers John and Joseph Jopson of Watermillock, continued to work in pouring rain and by this time had constructed a tunnel into which a man had to crawl and work in very restricted space.

It was not until Tuesday morning that a rock forming the last barrier was reached and this had to be carefully chipped and split and the pieces removed. Soon after midday a hole big enough for Mounter to crawl through had been made, and the hound walked out. Apart from stiffness, he was little the worse and was completely dry in spite of the inches of rain, which had fallen during the weekend and flooded the surrounding countryside. Some indication of the depth of the borran in which he had been imprisoned.

Westmorland Gazette 23rd October 1954


13th April 1997 Wasdale Mountain Rescue team called out at 11am as two “dogs” were reported to be barking / stuck in Great Gully for several hours. Two foxhounds were found but managed to get out by themselves.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Report February 14th 1998 3.15pm

Crag fast hound C Gully, the Screes, Wasdale

A hound called Merlin managed to get stuck between two large waterfall pitches. We manged to haul it out safely.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Report 1998

22nd January 2003
Eel Crag, Newlands

3 hounds were reported to be in difficulties. One had been killed and 2 had been crag fast overnight. Attempts were made to rescue the dogs but poor conditions of ice and snow determined the rescue be delayed until the next day. 600 feet roped descent located the dogs and brought them down to safety.

Keswick Mountain Rescue Report 2003

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