Book Details & Reviews

Ullswater Foxhounds Part Two

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First published: March 2014
Words: 70,000 approx
Black and white with some coloured illustrations.

Book Review by Chris Breen

In 1920, Richard Clapham quite rightly wrote on the subject of fell hunting....“If you go out enough you will find yourself becoming more and more wedded to this wild country, which, in sunshine or storm, has so many attractions for those who are not afraid to tackle it in all its varying moods”. (Foxhunting On The Lakeland Fells, Heaton Cranton 1920)

I quote this as we continue with Part 2 of the Ullswater Foxhounds story. It’s one that will captivate the reader who has “been out enough” or enthral the novice whose curiosity may have been stirred by the first sighting of hounds on a fell or indeed the contents of Part 1. If it is the latter who is thinking of tramping the fells in pursuit of hounds for the first time then you should be made aware of the trials and tribulations of those who have gone before and this book will bring that familiarity. The crags and borrans are still there but alas not all of the people mentioned. Many have rightly gone into the folklore that makes the sport of fell hunting unique. But their feats are here in black and white. It’s hard to imagine life as it was then, but if you have that imagination and an appreciation of the fells, this book will prove easy reading.

The format to the book is the same as Part 1, a tried, tested and successful formula which makes it simple for the reader to select an era or year for reading. The atmospheric photographs accompany hunt reports from back in the day. Also included are notes on hunt business and added quotes from noted gentry of that time. W. G. Skelton, a good supporter of hounds and who penned a book on Bowman has plenty to say in his admiration and others also contribute. Compiled in chronological order, which takes some dedication and patience, it leaves no stone unturned as we venture into the hunting fraternity through the years, including the two world wars, internal politics and the passing of one of the Ullswater Foxhounds favourite sons, the great Joe Bowman.

The compiler and researcher, Ron Black, needs no introduction to the reader and he has become quite proficient in putting together enough interesting information to fill a book of this sort, the second in a trilogy covering the history of the Ullswater Foxhounds. There’s more than enough to whet the appetite with over 180 pages including some as yet unseen photographs. This is a book to read and be enjoyed at leisure after a day on the fell, either with hounds or just merely walking. Part 3 promises to be even better and will bring us up to date, and I know Ron has one or two other irons in the fire for those with an interest in fell hunting. For now though, enjoy this book as it transports you back in time and humbles even the most fittest and staunchest of those among us.

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