Here is Chapter 7 of The Mardale Hunt by Ron Black. Through the courtesy of the author, Foxhunting Life brings you the entire book in installments every two weeks. You are free to download the book to your computer. We hope you have enjoyed the previous installments.
Excerpt from Chapter 7
Visitors to Mardale Shepherd’s Meet—and they came from all parts of England, from Kent to Newcastle—are not likely to forget this year’s experience as the weather was of the vilest and stormiest character. Nevertheless this did not deter a large gathering from assembling for this time-honoured institution, and the visitors included many who have attended the gathering for very many years.
The Mardale Shepherd’s Meet may be classified in three epochs. There was the ancient period of Mardale, when tradition says its prestige began with the outlaw Hugh Holme who took refuge from a persecuting monarch in a cave, which today bears his name, though the tenant nowadays is generally a fox. The next period may be termed the “Joe Bowman Chapter”, and this is how Mardale has won its popularity. Its giant hills and peculiar mountain solitude have ever had an attraction for lovers of all that is best in nature, but it remained to Joe Bowman and the Ullswater Foxhounds to introduce these charms to the world outside. The writer remembers Mardale Shepherds Meet when, at the height of the proceedings on the Saturday afternoon, the roll would not have exceeded thirty or forty. Nowadays, the motorcars themselves number about a hundred.
The next period may be classified as the Manchester Waterworks regime, for the Corporation has secured Mardale’s romantic lake for its supplementary water supply, and the work is to commence next year. When completed it is stated, Mardale Church and the “Dun Bull” will be twenty feet below the surface of the water.
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Posted January 26, 2012