HUNDREDS braved the cold to line the streets of Ledbury on Boxing Day morning for the traditional hunt meeting.

The crowds were out in force to witness 70 horses and a large number of fox hounds from the Ledbury Hunt team set off on their traditional hunt, now in its 170th year.

Donald Haden, Ledbury Hunt spokesman, said: “It’s very pleasing to see that it is still supported well, it’s a great British and Ledbury tradition, and that the rural society continues to renew itself and continue the great traditions of our forefathers.

“People come out as they want to see the horses and ponies, but also to show their support and be a part of this wonderful event. It’s absolutely great for Ledbury.”

While gathered outside the Feathers Hotel before the hunt set off, Tom Leeke, former joint master of the hunt, addressed the crowd and thanked them for their support.

In order to ensure the hunt was legal, the horses and hounds were tracking fox scent tracks that had been laid throughout the surrounding countryside.

They set off from Homend Will Goffe at 11am, through to the Top Cross before travelling through Leddington, Hallwood Green and Much Marcle. Andy Ward, landlord of the Talbot Inn, said: “There was a really great atmosphere and showed a great part of the town of Ledbury.

“There were so many people, it was excellent and such a nice way to celebrate Christmas.

“It’s good for trade too, which is always good for the town, as people come from surrounding areas to see the hunt get underway. It’s always one of our busiest days.”

Despite the large support, there were some that were not in the same spirit. Two protesters were seen holding up cardboard signs reading ‘Ledbury shame’.

Elsewhere, on Christmas Eve, hundreds of spectators saw the Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt get underway from Upton-upon-Severn.

About 40 horses and ponies gathered outside Ye Olde Anchor Inn, on the High Street, to start the traditional hunt.

Anna Millington, secretary of the Upton hunt, said: “It’s great to see people coming out and supporting us, the support is getting bigger and bigger.

“It’s really great to keep up traditions and it was a nice way to get into the Christmas spirit.”

The hunt set off at 11am and tracked fox-scent trails throughout the surrounding countryside.