The future of one of the country’s oldest hunts will be decided tomorrow (10 May) after six years of argument.

The Bilsdale hunt (BH) will vote whether to unite with the Bilsdale Farmers’ (BFH) or combine with a neighbouring pack to become the Bilsdale Hurworth hunt.

BH master Nigel Cleck told H&H: “Amalgamation with the Farmers’ has always been my favoured option, but whatever is decided we will be resolving a situation where our hunt is split down the middle.”

Dispute in the North Yorkshire-based Bilsdale led to the breakaway unregistered BFH pack being set up in 2004.

However, mastership changes at both hunts ignited reunion hopes and the packs hunted together last season.

“It all seemed very positive and old relationships were rekindled,” said Mr Cleck. “Then, at a meeting in mid March, the wheels fell off and the plan was dropped.”

He said the BH needs more country to allow two good days a week, so a possible plan was hatched with the Hurworth, whose country borders that of the Bilsdale.

But now the deal with the Farmers’ pack is back on the table and BFH joint-master Sheila Ashby is urging the Bilsdale to vote for unification.

She said: “We have an alternative proposal and together we can make it work. One Bilsdale is our aim.”

Bilsdale history can be traced back to 1668, when it was formed by the Duke of Buckinghamshire.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (6 May, ’10)