- Ashford Valley
- East Kent (thought to date from the 18th century, so the oldest unchanged Foxhound pack in Kent)
- West Street Tickham (formed in 1990, when the West Street amalgamated with the Tickham)
- Old Surrey Burstow & West Kent (formed in 1999, has the largest Kent hunting country of 42 by 30 miles)
- East Sussex & Romney Marsh (formed in 1966 when the two hunts amalgamated. The Romney Marsh was founded as a Harrier pack in 1858)
- Kent & Sussex Minkhounds (hunting the River Stour, Pevensey Marshes and Romney Marsh)
- Bolebroke Beagles
- Wye Beagles
- Coakham Bloodhounds
- Kent & Surrey Bloodhounds
What kind of country is it?
As Richard Middleton, chairman of the Ashford Valley and of the Kent Countryside Alliance, says: “Hunting in Kent is like the curate’s egg — good in parts. It’s probably not the best in the country, but you can still go out, get away from it all and have an awful lot of fun.”
Richard Blakeney, huntsman of the East Kent, says: “It’s a very cold-scented country, quite bad-scenting, we’re on the east coast so we get the east winds.”
Nic Wheeler, joint-master and huntsman of the Coakham Bloodhounds, says: “Our country is split more or less half and half between Kent and Sussex, but our followers, hounds and horses have a lot of fun. If we’re hunting in Kent, you need a three-quarter-bred who can jump the hedges.”
Where should you go for a red-letter day?
Dr Mark Thomas, joint-master of the Bolebroke Beagles, says: “Our country covers the low and high Weald due south of London. It’s very varied terrain — arable river plains, orchards, hop gardens and pasture — and lots of large estates and owner-occupied farms. There are places where you just can’t go unless you follow the Beagles. We get 30 or 40 people out on Saturdays.”
Mark Bycroft, huntsman of the Old Surrey Burstow & West Kent: “Places like Chiddingstone and Penshurst are made for hunting, with hedges and post-and-rails and all on grass. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort putting in hunt jumps — over the past three years we’ve put in about 400 — and we can jump 30 or 40 in one day.
“We’re in the entertainment business now, and because we share the country with the Mid Surrey Draghounds and two bloodhound packs, we’re all working together to keep it as open as possible. We’re also trying to ensure that every corner of every field is fenced, so there are no gates to open.
“And since the ban, the animal rights people have mostly left us alone — they’ve been out four or five times but haven’t got out of the van.”
See hounds parade at: