The meet was at a remote spot on the mountain at a farm tucked away between the hills and sheltered just a little from the worst of the weather. Which was just as well for the forecast was heavy rain turning to sleet and snow and driven by strong winds. Sounds like blizzard conditions to me! And it was the day the Six Nations kicked off with Wales at home to Scotland in Cardiff where the Jocks were the favourites after slamming Australia and almost beating the All Blacks a few months earlier. I thought I had a good chance of watching the game on TV because at this meet the hounds often take off across the hills where a quad bike or such like would be needed to keep in touch. When that happened I intended to head for home and leave any terrier work in the very capable hands of my much younger replacement, Pipe.
Heading out from the farmhouse after the usual hospitality I drove across the rough boggy ground up to a good vantage point on top of a hill where we could look down at the forest where the first draw would take place. The wind just about blew me down but at least the rain wasn’t too bad and soon enough foxy was on his toes though we could hardly hear the cry of the hounds due to the wind. Foxy lost no time and headed out from the trees and on to the open mountain, passing close to the farm where we had met but well out of range of any of the gun followers. Scent must have been exceptional for soon enough, driving to a new position, we could see and hear the hounds in full cry across the hills behind us.
Standing alongside Eric he said “Look at that! What a sight” as the hounds disappeared into the distance across the mountain vastness. How could you stop such a pack even if you wanted to, and I, for one certainly didn’t want to even though they were rapidly leaving us all behind and would soon be lost from our sight. Into the vehicles for the long drive around the mountain and forest roads while a few quad bikers sped away to try to keep in touch.
As I drove from the mountain and reached the huge forest patch I could hear one of the followers on the CB trying to raise the huntsman but he couldn’t get in touch so as I was half way between them I relayed the message. The hounds were a few miles away and sounded as if they were marking to ground. But the follower was on the forest road and the hounds were below him somewhere, down an almost vertical mountain slope and under a rocky overhang. He was going to try to reach them and when I arrived at his parked quad bike another follower pointed me to where he had gone. I thought he must be mad to attempt to climb down there. OK the slope was steep with deep heather but in a short distance it just disappeared over a sheer rocky cliff face and the sheep trods were covered in slippery slime. I knew that it was not for me but I hoped I could get to a spot where I could get some photos with my little Panasonic Lumix camera which I rarely use but which has a great zoom lens. No chance. I couldn’t even see where they were and the weather didn’t help because it was now blowing hard and raining heavily. If terriers were required then it would certainly be a job for Pipe and the rest of the lads.
Meanwhile the huntsman had arrived and had reached the hounds. They were right at the bottom of the cliff and on a ledge perched above the roaring white waters of the flooded river twenty feet below. They were trapped. They couldn’t go forward and they couldn’t get back so ropes were needed to get the hounds from there; five or six of them. They would need to be lifted up from the ledge. Ropes were gathered from the followers vehicles and all the younger supporters made their way down to give a hand. One of them was quite chuffed. He said that if you didn’t follow hounds you would never get to see such a sight as this!
And it certainly was a sight on a dark old day when the weather was doing its worst. The hills and valleys were awesome, dark and threatening; no wonder the last true Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndŵr led the young Prince Henry, soon to be Henry V, victor of Agincourt, a merry dance across his Welsh homeland. We could look across the vast valley to the opposite mountain and see ponies and hardy Welsh black cattle and the ever present sturdy sheep like blurred dots in the distance. Meanwhile, the men below had the job of rescuing the hounds. They had reached the rocky shelf where they were perched but found that they could not be raised upward due to the overhanging ledge. And below was a sheer drop into the white water of the river. Only one way out. The hounds had to be dropped as carefully as possible, into the flooded torrent so they could swim to the bank further down the valley. And that is what happened. Tough old animals these hounds. Tough as the young men who follow them and who had to get themselves down to follow along the river bank to a farm down in the valley rather than attempt the climb back up. When they eventually got back to their vehicles where they had parked they looked like drowned rats! Young and fit, they didn’t get chilled or catch pneumonia. The last time we had hounds in such a situation, many years ago, we were known as Dad’s Army because most of the followers were elderly and very few fitter, stronger young men were with us and we had to call out a mountain rescue team to do the job.
And while I waited I listened to the match on the car radio and cursed missing what, from the Welsh point of view, was a great match. But I also realised once again what anti hunt campaigners and the pathetic unwashed leftie junkies had never known or cared about. Rugby is said to be a religion in Wales. Well, hunting in the Welsh rural heartlands is even more of a religion to its followers and dates back much further than the birth of the game of rugby. Welsh hounds hunted the wilds of Wales many centuries ago and quickly became ingrained into the character of its people and still, to this day, it is imbedded into the lives of its followers; and today it also fulfils the practical necessity of humane and effective fox control, the best of all methods for the sheep farmer, so important a part of the country’s economy. And the fools of the Houses of Perverts decided to do away with all this! Demanded that we, who are far better men than they, take notice of a stupid law passed by the crooks, perverts, traitors and kiddie fiddlers who make up our ruling classes. If the Welsh Assembly really want to make themselves useful and relative to Wales they should immediately annul this racist law and allow Wales to once more legally follow its ancient pastime, its ancient sport, its ancient way of life. Its ancient religion.
I also cursed for not being able to get down there myself but I was very proud of the efforts made to rescue those hounds. Foxy had obviously led them on to the ledge but how had he got from there? Well he may have hurled himself into the river or then again, being a fox and cat like, he may have been able to somehow scramble up or down the sheer rock face. Good luck to him anyway, whatever he did. He obviously must have been a fine specimen of his race and, survival of the fittest, deserved to live to run another day and leave his mark on future generations of his kind.