HUNDREDS of people converged on a Lunesdale hotel to enjoy the traditional spectacle of the annual Boxing Day hunt.

Dozens of riders in hunting finery assembled with their mounts and foxhounds at the Longlands Hotel, Tewitfield, for the ever popular meet run by the Vale of Lune Harriers.

Huntsman Jason Mahon expressed delight at the number of spectators gathered to see the hunt off.

"Seeing so many people is amazing," he said. "It's a great atmosphere."

Former hunt chairman Peter Pimbley, of Garstang, said: "Boxing Day is the biggest day in the hunt calendar. The turn out is always really good from Tewitfield. It's the most popular hunt of the year for spectators; and we get lots of people coming here who who don't go to any other meet."

Sheila Turner travelled from Craven over the Yorkshire border especially for the event.

"It's the first time I've been to a hunt of any kind and I'm particularly impressed by how many people have come along just to watch," she said. "It's been wonderful to be able to walk among the horses and hounds as they gathered to set off. Really atmospheric and charged with energy."

In her speech shortly before the off, joint hunt master Melanie Brook thanked all those who made the hunt possible, particularly the management of the Longlands Hotel for hosting the start and the landowners and farmers who allow the hunt on to their land.

"It's all about enjoying yourself," she told the assembled riders. "Have a fun day."