Crowds gathered in Wheelton on New Year's Day to support the annual Holcombe Hunt.

The hunt gathered at the Red Lion pub, on Blackburn Road, this year.

The event, which dates back to 1086, abides by hunting laws and sees an artificial trail laid around the field for the dogs, illustrating how modern day hunts operate, before the hounds were let loose to follow the trail.

Around 70 riders, and a pack of Stud Book Harriers, met in the village. Before the hunt commenced crowds enjoyed a performance from a piper.

Pictures of the event were taken by Mike Bisson, of Mike Bisson Photography.

Master of the hunt, Sue Simmons said: “The Holcombe Harriers enjoyed a very successful New Year's Day meet hosted by the Red Lion pub in Wheelton.

“Huge, happy crowds gathered to hear the piper playing bagpipes in the New Year and see the smart procession of 70 riders and the prize-winning, rare breed, Stud Book Harriers hounds at their meet in the village.

“Trails were laid in the surrounding farmland where much support is given by land owners for this modern law-abiding sport. 

“The hunt field master wished everyone a happy new year to the crowds.”

On Boxing Day, another hunt was held in Pleasington.

Around 60 riders met at the Railway Hotel in Victoria Road and crowds gathered to see the staged display of trail hunting across the Lancashire countryside.

Sue said she was pleased to see that the tradition has been kept alive.

She said: “The public like to see a traditional British pastime still taking place.

“It is a golden thread that runs through rural and British farming life. It gives people a chance to come and see each other on public holidays to see each other.

“We had two young ladies riding side saddle, which was lovely to see that tradition. It is nice to see the younger generation doing this [so the tradition can continue].

“It also supports the local trade in the pubs and cafes as people get out into them and buy food and drink.”

What is trail hunting and why is it controversial?

Fox hunting was banned in England and Wales following the introduction of the Hunting Act 2004, which came into force a year later.

You can use dogs to simulate hunting, with trail hunting, where a scent is laid for hounds to follow.

Trail hunting is controversial among some groups, who claim it is being used as a “smokescreen” for the illegal hunting of foxes.