MEMBERS of the public had an opportunity to get a close look at Holcombe Hunt’s prized pack of rare Stud Book Harriers today.

Traditionally the historic hunt holds a Boxing Day meeting, but as the day fell on a Sunday this year no trail hunting took place and instead members used the opportunity to showcase their pack of 50, or 25 couples, of hounds on Bank Holiday Monday.

More than a 100 members of the public gathered in the car park behind the Robin Hood pub at Tottington to meet the hounds, under the control of huntsman Mark Dickson Bradley.

Bury Times: Holcombe Harriers set off through Tottington

After spending half an hour chatting to the public a handful of hunt members, led by Senior Master Sue Simmons set off, accompanied by the hounds, for a short ride around local lanes and bridleways.

Only a lone hunt protestor made her voice heard as the horses and hounds set off from the pub.

Holcombe Hunt, which operates throughout Lancashire and parts of Greater Manchester, is one of the oldest in the country, tracing its roots back to 1086 and the hounds are one of only eight packs of Stud Book Harriers in the country.

The animals are believed to be direct descendants of Blue Gascoignes which were brought to England by the Normans.

Bury Times: Huntsman Mark Dickson-Bradley introduces Jamie Gallagher, aged 2, to the houndsHuntsman Mark Dickson-Bradley introduces Jamie Gallagher, aged 2, to the hounds

Senior Master, Sue Simmons says she is particularly proud that the four of the harriers were recently registered with the Kennel Club in a bid to protect the breed.

She told the crowd of well-wishers: “It is an endangered breed. This pack of harriers is very well-bred. We look after them in that way to ensure the survival of the breed.

“We are hopefully going to be the first pack of harriers to show hounds at Crufts.”