More than 100 hunting supporters from across South Lakeland and Furness turned out at Cartmel Racecourse on Saturday morning in a show of defiant support for their way of life.

The gathering was one of some 250 similar events staged across the country on Saturday after the Government's long-awaited ban on hunting most types of mammals with dogs came into force the previous day.

Alan Bolt, master of the North Lonsdale Foxhounds, welcomed the large number of people supporting the event and said it showed the strength of feeling on the issue.

He said the ban had curtailed the hunting season by a fortnight, but a full programme of summer social events would go ahead as planned later this year, including a country fair in August.

Vowing to fight the ban on hunting, he told the gathering: "This is the beginning of a battle. We will keep fighting until we win it."

Jimmy Mallett, huntsman for 27 years, urged people to support the pro-hunting Conservative Party in the forthcoming general election, adding: "The Labour government does not understand country people, our way of life, and they are very much out of touch with us."

Conservative MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Collins pledged a Tory government would repeal the "ignorant, prejudiced and bigoted" law banning hunting. He urged hunting supporters to rally behind his party.

Speaking earlier to The Westmorland Gazette, Mr Collins said he believed hunting would be a major issue at the next election in certain areas.

Conservative Party prospective candidate for Barrow and Furness, Bill Dorman said his family had hunted for 200 years and it was a way of life he wanted to preserve.