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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Rydal Sheepdog Trials and Hound Show

THE din of baying hounds was heard over the picturesque background of the Lakeland fells.

More than 100 years of tradition was alive and well.

The 107th Vale of Rydal Sheepdog Trials and Hound Show took place yesterday in the spectacular panorama of Rydal Park, just outside of Ambleside.

A strong crowd enjoyed a packed schedule of events, with hound shows held in two rings, one for beagles and one for foxhounds and terriers.

And a natural amphitheatre overlooking the sheepdog trials provided an ideal vantage point for the other feature event.

A vast exhibition of shepherds’ crooks and sticks was another highlight.

Claire Logan-Stephens, organising committee chairwoman, said there had again been a strong turnout, following on from last year’s record numbers.

She said: “The numbers through the gate are very good again.

“People just love the tradition of it and love meeting up with old friends and it’s very sociable, just sitting on the hillside watching the sheepdogs run. It’s got an endearing character that people love.”

This year’s show included a new feature to help the more casual spectators appreciate the decision-making of the judges.

Ms Logan-Stephens said: “We had feedback, particularly from tourists coming to the show, that people really wanted to know a bit more about how the judges decided on which hound should be the winner.
“So we have introduced a commentary where we have picked out a prize-winning hound and explained why it makes a good account.”

Yesterday’s event marked the end of an era for the organising committee as John Benson, a farmer who has just retired after 53 years of service.

Ms Logan-Stephens said: “He has been just wonderful on the committee, trying to always look at how we can improve the event. He is very, very knowledgeable, so we got him a silver fox to thank him so much.”

Christine Connolly, on holiday from Wakefield, was full of praise for the show.

She said: “My favourite aspect is the hound trail.

“It’s the excitement, all the people sitting watching, the dogs appearing nover the horizon and dashing down and sticking their noses in, and the baying in the distance that you can hear before you even see them.”

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