Lynne & Cobbie’s big tour: should I just go home and give up?

Hello from Cobbie and I as we embark on an extra ‘C’ before heading off to the south west to do C, D and E — The Cury, Dulverton West and the Eggesford.

Not too far up the road, The Croome and West Warwickshire were meeting at good friends Ed and Sarah Righton’s farm at Elmley Castle. Ed has been one of the joint masters since 2016. I love the annual breakfast meet at Elmley Castle. It’s such a friendly meet held at the village-run pub the Queen Elizabeth, so when Sarah suggested it, it was a no-brainer — what a way to see Bredon Hill and the views in the early morning! It all seemed a great idea.

However, Cobbie and I set off in a howling gale for the 6.45am meet. Sarah’s instructions were ringing in my ears: “We are meeting in the field at the farm”. After avoiding fallen trees and branches on the way, we were met by gates that were shut to the farm at Elmley Castle. Had I heard Sarah wrong? Was the meet at their other farm 20 minutes drive away?! Off I went in the continuing windy conditions and reached Hill Court Farm to peace and quiet and no evidence of a meet or hounds. Where were they? Should I just go home? Give up? No! Off I went back to Elmley Castle. Where were they? On getting back to the village with Sarah’s voice ringing in my ear, I took a right, instead of left turn in the village and sure enough there was the field where the meet had been, at the other side of the farm!

Sarah and Ed Righton

Half an hour late, I unloaded Cobbie and headed off across the fields to be met by the sound of hounds hunting above me. What a welcome sound! After popping a hunt jump onto the bridle path that heads up Bredon Hill above the village, we eventually met up with Ed at the head of his mounted field. Hounds had by this time lost their trail and Ben Dalton (huntsman since 2014 having come from the Dulverton West) continued drawing up hill through the forestry. Conditions proved very testing for Ben and his pack of hounds, as the wind was still blowing strongly — the trails laid by Sarah proved too tricky to find.

Trail layer for the morning, Sarah Righton

Bredon Hill itself is a lovely place. Elmley Castle is at the base of the north side of the hill. From the top, the panoramic views west of the Malvern Hills and the Severn Valley were spectacular (pictured, top).

The draw for the morning took in parts of ancient woods, newer plantations, old grassland, scrub and patches of bracken and briers, which are part of one of England’s most important wildlife sites. A large section of the north and west side of the hill has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is also home to a successful shoot. For hunting, it provides a landscape which hasn’t changed for years — we even crossed the ruins of a medieval castle covered in bracken and briars that was part of the day’s draw.

Heading home

After battling the elements with not a lot of results around the rest of the morning’s draw, the decision was made to head off the hill and call it a day. The ‘T-pot’ called!

Simon French, whipper-in, counts hounds off the hill — all on

Once everyone had boxed up, a welcome warming cuppa and breakfast of pork pie and doughnuts was dished out around Patty Allen’s quad bike. Patty had been following all morning mounted on her quad, wearing her smart blue Patey hat! Patty is a long-standing master of the Croome and West Warwickshire, having served since 1979.

Patty Allen MFH mounted astride four wheels instead of four legs!

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Refreshments around Patty Allen’s quad

Cobbie had to wait for his breakfast until he got home — he was not interested in eating it next to the trailer. It’s the only thing that is worrying me about him on out Big Tour — him going off his food. He has always been tricky with eating and drinking too when away from home. Once home though, he had the added incentive of all of his friends wanting his food to make him tuck in!

Cobbie tucking into his breakfast once home

Lynne

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