with Horse and Hound

My Holiday with Hounds

 

ncotswold5.denyaKennel huntsman Nick Hopkins exercises the North Cotswold foxhounds through the village of Broadway. / Denya Massey Clarke photo

On holiday one spring day in 2008 my husband (non-horsey) and I were walking down High Street in Broadway, enjoying the charms of one of the most attractive towns in the Cotswolds. Suddenly I heard hounds.

I determined to find the source, while my husband is thinking, “Really? We’re on vacation, and she finds hounds? Out of the blue? Really?” I saw a lane called Kennel Lane, and there, one block off High Street, were the kennels of the North Cotswold Foxhounds!

I was enchanted by the hounds living right in town. It made them so accessible, yet they weren’t. The North Cotswold foxhounds are a beautifully bred, highly respected pack. I imagined seeing them out of their kennels on a hunting day, yet, since we travel regularly to the Cotswolds in May, that wouldn’t happen.

While planning our third trip to Broadway, I couldn’t resist. I knew that the Joint-Master of the North Cotswold, Mr. Nigel Peel*, was a contributor to Foxhunting Life—in fact a member of FHL’s Panel of Experts. I asked editor Norman Fine if it would be impolite to ask to see the kennels. He kindly offered to introduce me by email to Mr. Peel, who bred this beautiful pack, hunts them himself, and whose reputation as a breeder and judge of foxhounds is universally renowned.

Fast forward: the phone rings in our Cotswold ‘cottage.’ It’s Nick Hopkins, kennel huntsman for the North Cotswold Foxhounds, calling on Mr. Peel’s behalf to invite me to walk out with the hounds on the twentieth of May at 7:45 a.m. Of course, I say. Thank you. Oh, mentions Nick, we’ll have a bike for you. A what? A bike. Oh, ok.... We hang up.

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