Big crowds turnout for popular New Year hunt meets

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-182821009 EMN-170201-182821009
New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-182821009 EMN-170201-182821009
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Large crowds lined the streets to watch traditional New Year hunts which took place in Wansford and Melton on Monday.

It was the turn of Cottesmore Hunt this year to gather in Play Close in Melton Mowbray - and over in Wansford, the centuries old Fitzwilliam Hunt gathered.

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183004009 EMN-170201-183004009

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183004009 EMN-170201-183004009

The hunts usually take place on New Year’s Day but because that fell on Sunday this year, they were moved to Monday.

It followed the previous week’s Boxing Day Hunts - and for all the events, big crowds came out to watch members and their hounds prepare before setting out for their hunts.

Clare Bell, secretary of the Cottesmore Hunt, said: “We had a fantastic turnout of townsfolk on Monday.

“There was a lovely reception for us from the senior townwarden and the people of Melton.

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183027009 EMN-170201-183027009

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183027009 EMN-170201-183027009

“On the day we had 53 horsemen and women riding with the hunt and a good number of followers on foot.

“We come to Melton every three years because we share it with the Belvoir and the Quorn and once again it was a lovely event for us.”

Mrs Bell declined to comment on speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May is to lobby to repeal the ban on hunting foxes with dogs.

It has been mooted that a free vote might be held in Parliament on the issue.

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183136009 EMN-170201-183136009

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183136009 EMN-170201-183136009

The ban came in almost 12 years ago but hunting has continued, mainly in in the form of drag hunts, where hounds follow an artificial 
scent.

The Cottesmore, which has kennels near Oakham, has been hunting in this area since 1666.

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183307009 EMN-170201-183307009

New Year's Fitzwilliam Hunt at Wansford EMN-170201-183307009 EMN-170201-183307009

Hounds and riders are led away from the park on the way to Saxby Road during Monday's New Year hunt meet in Melton EMN-170301-120221001

Hounds and riders are led away from the park on the way to Saxby Road during Monday's New Year hunt meet in Melton EMN-170301-120221001

Melton Town Estate Senior Townwarden Dinah Hickling hands out a warming drink to Cottesmore Hunt Joint-Master Andrew Osborne at Monday's meet EMN-170301-120110001

Melton Town Estate Senior Townwarden Dinah Hickling hands out a warming drink to Cottesmore Hunt Joint-Master Andrew Osborne at Monday's meet EMN-170301-120110001