Towpath Tally-ho

April 2017 - Huntsman seem to think the rules about horses on towpaths don't apply if you are in hunting pink – Peter Underwood reports.

Horses are banned from most towpaths so when one was apparently invaded several times by the horses and hounds of a hunt – illegally in pursuit of a fox according to anti-hunt protesters – there are serious concerns about public safety.

According to the Wildlife Guardian website: “A fox hunt’s actions has been branded as extremely irresponsible for endangering public safety after repeatedly ignoring warning signs and galloping down narrow canal towpaths with a pack of foxhounds.”

It says the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt have been reported to the Canal & River Trust for riding along towpaths on the New Junction Canal at Sykehouse and Fishlake, near Doncaster, on several occasions during the past six months.

C&RT says it's policy is that you’re not allowed to ride horses on the towpath. “If people see fox hunting taking place, our request is to call the police,” say the Trust.

“Please let us know too so that we’re aware it’s taking place and can keep an eye on it.

“In the meantime we’ve asked those who’ve reported it to us what time and when and exactly where it took place.”

Senior Public Relations man Jon Ludford told The Floater: “Our policy is not to ride horses on the towpath (which is obviously the vast majority of our estate).

“Away from the towpath I’m not aware of any instances where fox hunting has been a problem, so having a wider policy isn’t needed at this stage.”

The Wildlife Guardian says that during the latest incident, a local resident, who did not wish to be named, claimed that the hunt along with 30 foxhounds spent up to an hour on the towpaths at Sykehouse and Fishlake, despite warning signs clearly prohibiting horses on the towpath.

The website says it has seen mobile phone footage showing huntsman Richard Mould and joint master Nigel Dickson galloping down the towpath as the hounds are in cry.

It goes on “The hunt then head to the opposite towpath, where the hounds are encouraged to hunt through wildlife habitat owned by the Canal & River Trust. The hunt’s terriermen and terriers were later seen joining the hunt on the towpath.

It claims the trespass occurred in full view of a Canal & River Trust manned station, and despite previous incidents being reported to the Trust, no action was taken to stop the hunt.

A spokesman for the Wildlife Guardian stated, “The Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt behaviour is utterly reckless and they are endangering the safety of legitimate users of the towpaths, such as dog walkers and cyclists. They also demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety of the horses.

“This is not an isolated incident, it’s occurring five or six times a year. It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured. The Canal & River Trust cannot keep turning a blind eye to the trespass and the extremely irresponsible actions of the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt.”

In 2014, a photo of the Badsworth and Bramham Moor Hunt trespassing on the same towpath, led by then huntsman Nigel Dickson, was published on the Countryside Alliance Facebook page.

Photo: The Hunt on the towpath. There have been Facebook suggestions of Photo-shopping but a close examination suggests that is not the case.

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