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Colne Valley Beagles - First half 2007/08 - 12th February 2008
Colne Valley Beagles Huntsman’s Report First Half 2007/08

No sooner had we got the Puppy Show & the Hound Show out of the way then suddenly it seemed as if the season was already upon us….The first part of summer always drags a bit in kennels, with winding hounds down for their rest, while keeping them relatively fit and happy. The seven pups, the “F” litter all took their turns on couplings before getting the hang of pack-living and walking out, though Farrin in particular would have tested the patience of a saint, (probably still would a bit!) in wanting to say “hello” to any and every domestic dog we came across while out & about.

The end of summer saw me resurrecting the old established practice of biking-out, with Paul, Simon & Jonathan all digging their velos out at different times. The art of riding a bike while carrying a whip took a little mastering, but we got the hang of it eventually. (I hadn’t ridden a bike for over twenty years!) Hounds took to the new style of exercise very quickly and only the untimely buckling of my front wheel on the path through the wood curtailed the practice. The customary introduction to Paul Thorpe’s “Wildboarclough” sheep went ahead and the pups’ education continued into the season proper. The two new litters (“P”s & “R”s) of pups watched from their new pen with great interest as their older cousins grew into proper grown ups….

The pack’s fitness levels were tested on visits to the Cheshire, North Wales, North Yorkshire courtesy of the Cheshire Beagles, the Nantcol Valley Foxhounds and the Hunsley Beacon Beagles respectively, and by various home sorties. By the time Christmas came about it has to be said that regular stalwarts pretty much had got to know the slopes to the West of Black Hill rather well. It is perhaps only by the grace of Chris Crowther and his continued support for the CVB that we are still here at all, so it wouldn’t be fair to grumble. In spite of our growing fields, our very good turn outs and some cracking days watching our hounds perform like little demons we are still in the middle of very difficult times, and without the hard work of Stewart & Steve & Meryl we almost certainly couldn’t have survived this long.

No sooner had we got going as Autumn started to arrive, then so did Foot & Mouth Disease! Oh no, not again was the call as despondency looked certain. A forced three week lay-up ensued after such a promising start, effectively “doing for” the annual pilgrimage to Cumberland and to our friends at the Melbreak FH & Black Combe Beagles. The outbreak was fortunately very limited this time though, and we all sighed with relief at not having to see the nightmarish burning pyres again. In due course the restrictions were eventually lifted and things more or less got back to somewhere close to normality. Our thoughts did go out to the handful of farms directly affected though and this was brought home to us even more when we took up the invitation to visit Dumfriesshire again, which you may recall had been so badly hit during the 2001 outbreak. The fabulous hospitality of our hosts Chris & Lenise Bell put such dour thoughts aside and the CVBers who made the journey, as well as a large contingent of Dumfriesshire & Stewartry supporters were treated to a couple of days of cracking hound-work. Songs were sung, suppers devoured and friendships renewed or forged anew. Those of you who didn’t make it really should get your names down now for next season!

I really can only say the same about the Wales trip, which in spite of some icy blasts off the Irish Sea threatening to spoil things at times, really did surpass all expectations. What magical country, high & wild mountain sides, with stunning views across an enormous valley to the estuary beyond, and excellent food & very “more-ish” draughts of the local beer to look forward to at the end of the day! We really couldn’t have asked for an awful lot more.

In the meantime the dozen pups back in kennels have for one reason or another, been deprived of actual walkers, resulting in none going out this time. Volunteers have occasionally risked taking a couple on leads for a bit of an outing in the wood & park, but more are always welcome! I do take them out around the wood, but after an interesting incident involving a squirrel & someone’s very shy (but speedy) sheepdog it became apparent, especially as I retrieved the last from a neighbour’s garden on the Delves Wood Road estate that they are a bit of a handful to say the least! Great fun for pups perhaps, but it did take a while to get my blood pressure back to normal. Many of you will be aware of the Puppy Sponsorship scheme that Simon & Ruth have set up, so I won’t repeat it all here, but I do hope that you can give it your support. The puppies need you!

No sooner had we got back from Wales then it seemed as if we were in the run-up to Boxing Day. We were, and another enormous field joined us as tradition demands. How very reassuring that so many do turn out, no matter what the weather, I hope they always will. Notwithstanding politics and the manipulation of “New” Labour by the antis similar scenes were played out at hundreds of pubs, farms and even stately homes from one end of the country to the other, brilliant stuff! Those that saw our hounds off were treated to a very fast and furious day, great fun followed by a huge sing as we were again joined by our friends from the Scarr View back at the Jack O’Mitre.

Struck down by the dreaded ‘flu almost immediately after the subsequent meet, (up on the moors, in some truly foul conditions,) just about floored me for days afterwards. Fortunately Simon was able to deputise for me for the New Year’s Day meet from the Wills O’Nat’s but I’ll have to leave him to report on that in the next Beagler….

As I write this we are already well into the “second half” of the 2007/2008 season, hounds are going well, and next year’s entry look very promising. Our support is as strong as ever and you should all take heart from that, as well as perhaps giving yourselves a pat on the back too. You’ll no doubt be aware of some structural uncertainties in the management of the CVB, changes are coming, but quite how they’ll manifest themselves is yet to be seen. Your continued support, both on and off the hunting field, is the crucial element though. There has been a Colne Valley Hunt for well over a century now and it’s up to us all to ensure that there always will be.

There wouldn’t be now if it wasn’t for those I thanked above, as well as all our farmers, keepers, land-owners and many friends from other packs who have helped us in these very difficult times. Thank you one & all for ensuring the continuation of the Scarlet & Green!

Happy New Year & Happy Hunting.

Submitted or last changed: Wed, 05 Mar 2008 ; 21:37

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