Woodside Farm in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, has closed a permissive footpath after the Quorn Hunt, along with the Cottesmore Hunt, trespassed on the farm’s land.
A permissive path is a path over private land, voluntarily opened to the public by a land owner, who can withdraw access at any time (for more information see our page on Rights of Way and the Law).
The farm announced at the end of 2023:
“It is with regret that we have had to close the permissive path due to trespass and damage to our land. On Monday 18th December 2023, riders and hounds of the Quorn Hunt (and visiting Cottesmore Hunt) came over the land at Woodside Farm without consent from us. When riders were confronted, they refused to stop and continued to ride over field margins and crops alike, as well as forcing their way through hedgerows. Following this, quad bikes from the hunt came through the permissive pathway as well as riding over the grass field…”
The behaviour of the Quorn Hunt means that the general public has lost its permission to walk over the land, too. The land owner continued:
“We are aware that this is not the first time that the Quorn Hunt has used land in the area without permission, but [we] will not tolerate access onto land without consent. We are sorry that the activities of a few affect everyone who has previously used the permissive path in a respectful manner.”
It is a sad fact that hunts all over the country act like they are above the law, trespassing wherever they like with entitled arrogance. Protect the Wild regularly reports on hunt trespass incidents, such as when the Mendip Farmers Hunt hounds rampaged through an animal park, when a pregnant alpaca named Ruby was attacked and killed by dogs from the Tiverton Staghounds, or when Dartmoor Hunt hounds terrorised animals living at the Farm & Feral Animal Sanctuary in south Devon.
The Quorn Hunt itself is notorious for trespassing wherever it likes. Only a few weeks ago, on 15 January, Field Farm Animal Sanctuary wrote:
“The Quorn Hunt trashed across our neighbouring fields, spooking our horses multiple times, at one point they lost one of their dogs, followed by a total loos of control of their dogs, they almost caused a car crash on Wysall Road. I made them very aware we are an animal sanctuary and to keep away, they didn’t care. I myself almost got injured by one of the horses as the rider lost control as the horse reared up… this was an extremely frightening experience. Shortly after this the dogs ran off again as they lost control of them and they mauled a fox which possibly was one of the foxes we have released back into the wild…”
These same hunts insist that they are trail hunting within the law, that their hounds are following an artificial scent laid in advance of the hunt. Of course, it is completely absurd that they even try arguing this: after all, if they were following a human-laid trail, why would they ever trespass on land that they have no permission to be on?
The fox hunting industry insists that it is an upholder of ‘rural tradition’ and is supported by rural people. But this is just as much of a myth as trail hunting.
Losing rural support
The Quorn, formerly the favourite hunt of the then Prince Charles, is often in the news. During the pandemic this was the hunt that infamously breached national lockdown regulations after taking to fields as part of a 70th birthday “surprise” and is the hunt that formerly employed disgraced huntsman Ollie Finnegan who was convicted of illegal hunting three times in a year.
Nottingham Hunt Sabs said of the Quorn Hunt:
“The Quorn are completely entitled and believe they can go where they please which is why so many of the local landowners hate them. It’s a lie that country folk support hunting.”
That’s a message being repeated across the country. And while we might be losing the use of permissive footpaths because of the selfish acts of hunting staff, there is at least a silver lining: more and more rural landowners are standing up to lawbreaking and arrogant hunts and denying them access to their land.
Hunting is an archaic bloodsport that has no place in modern society. Younger generations in England and Wales won’t stand for men in red coats getting their kicks out of such brutality. Fox hunting will be consigned to the history books – we have no doubt about that – but we all need to work together to make that happen as fast as possible. Together we can end fox hunting for good.
To read the Hunting of Mammals Bill, click here.
To sign our petition calling for a proper hunting ban through the implementation of the Hunting of Mammals Bill, click here.