A CROWD gathered to show their support for a festive tradition as the Vale of Lune Harriers (VLH) enjoyed its annual Boxing Day meet.

The event saw 25 dogs guided around a rural trail by more than 60 VLH members on horseback.

The 'fox hunt' - which does not involve any hunting, as this is illegal in England - began at the Longlands Inn, between Burton-in-Kendal and Carnforth.

"It's being able to ride across country you wouldn't normally ride across and follow hounds in a traditional fashion," said VLH joint master Melanie Brook.

"We put on a day that's as close to the real thing as possible - without being anywhere near the real thing.

"Local farmers dressed up as foxes. They came round with us, followed us, and kept the crowds entertained."

The day marked a welcome return for the annual event, which did not take place last year due to Covid restrictions in place at the time.

"It's very much a special event," said Ms Brook.

"It's an opportunity for us to show everybody our hounds.

"We get a lot of support locally. There was a good crowd there.

"We have kept going through the Covid pandemic as and when we have been able to."

This year's meet took place on Monday, December 27 rather than Boxing Day, as tradition stipulates that hunting does not take place on a Sunday.

The dogs are led by a huntsman. The huntsman has a supporting team of whippers-in, whose job it is to manage the activity of the group of harrier dogs.

Ms Brook, 55, said: "We are very thankful for everybody that came out and supported us, whether it was to come out on horses or to cheer us off."

She also thanked farmers in the area who allowed their land to be used by VLH for the event.

VLH heads out twice a week on dog exercises and scented trails between September and February each year.