TWO of Yorkshire’s most illustrious hunts, Holme Valley Beagles and Colne Valley Beagles, have merged.
Although, senior joint master of Colne Valley, James Swanbury, was tight-lipped about the reasons saying they were “practical”, the Examiner understands that cost is a factor given the large amount of money involved in maintaining packs.
In a statement the two groups, which hunt on foot, said: “The Holme Valley and Colne Valley Beagles have entered a new association that will bring a closer working relationship between the two hunts.
“The Holme Valley will leave their kennels with the Wharncliffe Beagles in South Yorkshire to join with the Colne Valley.
“In the future the two packs will co-operate in the pursuit of legal hunting activities.”
Following a meeting between members of the two groups, Mr Swanbury said: “This new arrangement will bring enormous benefits to both hunts, enabling them to make better use of their registered countries while retaining the history and tradition of both packs.”
Peter Norman, master of the Holme Valley Beagles, said: “We are really looking forward to working with the Colne Valley, with whom we share a common outlook grounded in our ‘gritstone’ heritage.
“Our return to our traditional roots in the valleys of the West Riding is welcomed by our members.”
Told of the news, keen hunts-woman Steph Daley, of South Yorkshire, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised.
“Holme Valley merged with Ecclesfield beagles a few years ago because of financial constraints, so I reckon it’s probably down to the same thing, or may be lack of support. It’s quite sad.”
Holme Valley can trace its roots back to the glory days of hunting in the 1800s.
Colne Valley boasts an equally distinguished tradition. Its pack were previously trencher-fed harriers.
The beagle pack was established in 1951and originally kept in kennels at Butternab Wood.
Luddite fugitives are said to have been harboured at one time in an historic building, the old cottage of the huntsman.
The blue hare and fleet brown hare are to be found within its hunt country which stretches around the west and north of the town and impinges on to the Lancashire border areas.
For those unfamiliar with hunting terminology, the following guide may help.
Beagles are a breed of medium-sized dog similar in appearance to the foxhound.
They have a rich history dating back more than 1,000 years though the modern breed dates from the 1830s.
They are prized for their outstanding ability to scent smells and tracking skills.
References to Beagles occasionally crop up in 17th and 18th century literature.
In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch says: “She’s a beagle, true-bred, and one that adores me: what o’ that?”
The Harrier is a medium-sized dog breed of the hound class and like the Beagle used for hunting hares.