POURING rain coming down in icy sheets across the county on Boxing Day created impossible" conditions for hunting and forced organisers to call off events.

Coniston Foxhounds had to cancel when mist and rain made for poor visibility and swollen rivers around Ambleside that were judged to be too dangerous for man and beast alike.

Huntsman Mike Nicholson said there were dangers to livestock, which would risk crossing perilously fast-flowing rivers when the hunt came past.

He said it was also dangerous for the hounds, which could get washed away in the swirling, icy waters.

Around 50 people turned up at the Sportsman's Inn ready to take the pack out over the fells, but instead they had to settle for coffee and mince pies.

Some members of the hunt made up for the missed opportunity the next day (27) when they braved snow showers on a visit to the Langdales.

In Kirkby Lonsdale, people filled the Market Square to watch the Vale of Lune Hunt gather but the same poor conditions as at Ambleside meant it was cancelled.

However, riders kept the visitors entertained by riding up New Road, down Mitchelgate and through the town centre.

According to figures from the Countryside Alliance, 36 meets across the country showed an average increase of over ten per cent on last Boxing Day.

There were no scheduled protests in Cumbria from the League Against Cruel Sports but spokesman Mike Hobday said: "The cancellation of any hunt is undoubtedly very good news for wildlife."