Every time the Torrington Farmers Hunt and Stevenstone Hunt meet, they hunt foxes. It is common knowledge amongst local people, all three local Councils, and the police.
This document covers the fox hunting season August 2021 – April 2022. It details the reported activities of these two fox hunts in one small area. It also looks into other interesting aspects of hunt activity.
The information was sent to the Great Torrington Events Safety Committee Facebook page team by members of the public. The team has included detailed hit reports by Devon County Hunt Saboteurs and insight from Devon Against Hunting, which support the public’s reports. They have also included names of some of the landowners who have allowed hunt crime on their land, and finish off with a quick round-up of what has been reported to the page since the end of the last season, April 2022 to the end of August 2022.
The current season’s report – 2022-23 – is being complied and will, along with this one, give people the information they need to know when hunts will be in their area, make their land safe, keep their pets and livestock safe, and prepare to gather evidence of hunt crime.
The report below has been shared with local police, Councils, and on social media.
TORRINGTON FARMERS HUNT ACTIVITY: 2021-2022 SEASON
Sat 28th August 2021
Several people reported hearing the hunt ‘cubbing’ between Alverdiscott and Huntshaw villages early in the morning. One of our informants reported hearing hunters ‘whispering’ about what they were doing thanks to the unusual acoustics of the stream valley the hunters were cubbing in. The hounds could also be clearly heard. Locally, the Ley family, Ford family and Huxtable family allow the TFH on their land. The same thing happened in the same location, on the August Bank Holiday Monday.
9th September 2021
More reports from the public about cubbing. Several of our friends in the Stevenstone area heard hunters out late on 9th, around 10pm. There were hounds in cry, quad bikes roaring around, plus a lot of horn-blowing and shouting.
27th September 2021
We had reports of hunt crime over the weekend. On the Saturday friends in St Giles said they were watching around 10 horses and 3 quads with terrier boxes on the back heading towards Peagram. The presence of terrier boxes meant the hunt was intending to dig up a fox, which is a crime. There’s no other reason to have terriermen or terriers present. The Hunting Office itself admits it’s illegal to use terriermen. Apparently members of the Huxtable family are terriermen.
28th September 2021
More reports from the same hunt event – The Torrington Farmers Hunt was spotted around Pegham Barton, about 10 horses plus 3 quad bikes complete with terrier boxes. The land belongs to the Metherills. The presence of terriermen and terriers was once again confirmed. The Metherill family lets the hunt onto their land.
1st October 2021
One of our friends reported seeing beagles at the TFH kennels. Does it mean they have returned to hare coursing, which is just as illegal as fox hunting? A friend of ours used to regularly report them to the police for hare coursing. If they’re at it again, they risk legal action: “Hare coursing is a bloodsport where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares. It is illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act 2004, which makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs. Anyone convicted of the offence can receive a fine of up to £5,000 by a Magistrates’ Court. Legislation also gives police the powers to seize and detain vehicles until the court hearing.”
18th October 2021
Despite the prosecution on Friday 15th October 2021 of Mark Hankinson from the Hunting Office, which blasted the Torrington Farmers Hunt’s ‘trail hunting’ lies out of the water forever, our local criminals were out on Saturday 16th October 2021 ‘short hours’ hunting, which means going out with just a few people and the hounds. At the moment they are still training new young hounds to follow fox scent, so the dogs know which animals to kill when the season kicks off properly.
We had reports from three of our friends who live in and around Stoney Cross about the hounds chattering and in cry in a copse on the edge of the village, opposite people’s houses – a sign they’d scented a fox or fox cub, terrifying deer while they were at it. Then the hunters shot off towards Newton Tracey and the surrounding area, where more of our friends reported them to us. They parked a horse box just inside the entrance of the Alverdiscott Electricity Sub Station, which means the Ford family was probably involved. They have been openly hunting illegally since 2004. The land the Sub Station is on is rented to the Grid by the Ford family. We contacted the National Grid to inform them.
27th October 2021
A friend passed us valuable intelligence about the TFH’s first meet of the season. They predicted the Torrington Farmers would hold their opening meet either the coming weekend or next. The expectation is they will either meet at Webbery, or maybe directly from the kennels at St Giles in the Wood.
30th October 2021
We had more intel from the public about the TFH’s first meet. In reality they were due to meet at Chapelton near Umberleigh. The Saboteurs turned up but the TFH managed to kill at least two foxes anyway. Here’s the ‘on the ground’ flash report from Devon Against Hunting: ‘TORRINGTON FARMERS HUNT JUST KILLED – SABOTEURS STILL WITH THEM, NEAR CHAPELTON, BARNSTAPLE’
2nd November 2021 – We posted a big thank-you to all the people who told us what the TFH was up to the previous weekend. Here’s the corresponding report from the Devon County Hunt Saboteurs:
Torrington Farmers Hunt opening meet 30/10/2021
On Saturday we visited the opening meet of the Torrington Farmers hunt at Hildrew near Barnstaple. Support were already drunk at 11am and as excited as ever to stick cameras in our faces and accuse us of carrying bottles of acid.
Huntsman Steve Craddock (Steve Craddock is the ex-Lamerton Hunt whip and one of the six in court on charges of illegal hunting in December 2015) began the day by heading East from the meet, towards the A377, a railway line and the overflowing River Taw, quickly losing a hound on the busy A road.
He then went south past Swanmoor and Langham Lake with hounds in cry around Higher Birbrook. Saboteurs saw a fox break and ran in to cover the scent with citronella and were in position to send the hounds back. Fortunately the hounds lost the scent and hunted the heel line while Craddock tried and failed to gather them back (which was a running theme of the day).
Craddock eventually put the hounds back in the area of Langham Lake, and sadly Saboteurs arrived moments too late, to see hounds and riders gathered in a corner of a field. Seeing Saboteurs they quickly ran leaving us to discover the mauled body of a fox, which had been casually thrown over a fence yards from the site of the kill, which was covered in pieces of flesh and hound prints.
The hunt continued south to Langley Barton and then south through the woods where hounds were in and out of cry. Saboteurs were able to rate hounds back to the huntsman who showed zero concern for his hounds struggling across the fast flowing river.
Hounds picked up another line and headed north towards Rooks Farm where sadly we think they potentially killed again, with terrier men observed carrying a body after hounds were seen massed in the field.
The final draw was east of Cleave farm, where the hunt surrounded the woods to ‘hold it up’ and force quarry to break in a specific direction. Here, Saboteurs saw 4 separate foxes and were able to help cover their scent with citronella, helping them to escape.
The huntsman once again lost control of his pack and several hounds headed south to Cogsworthy where they rioted on deer and were basically abandoned as Craddock took his field and blew for home.
It was a tough day with lots of difficult terrain and two kills, but without Saboteurs present would likely have been more.
6th November 2021 – Several members of the public contacted us about the TFH out hunting. There were reports of hunt monitors being verbally abused.
7th November – Devon County Hunt Saboteurs posted this report:
Torrington Farmers Hunt and Eggesford Hunt 6.11.2021
This Saturday our tip-off line was ringing off the hook with opening meets. We were on our way to the Eggesford Opening Meet at Crooke Burnell but at the entrance to the farm track we were waved down by a member of the hunt who told us where the Torrington were meeting. As Torrington killed several foxes in front of us last week, we changed plans and went to catch up with them.
Torrington met at Oak Farm a minute north of Uppacott Nature Reserve near Tawstock. Saboteurs’ first encounter with huntsman saw hounds in cry near Charlacott Cross by Collabear and a fox bursting from a hedge in front of hounds. Quick action by Saboteurs covering the line with citronella and rating hounds away from the hedge ensured that fox could run to safety.
Huntsman Steve Craddock then lost his hounds as usual and sent his whip and other support to help gather them. With the hounds rioting in the countryside Saboteurs saw another fox to safety after which the furious whip accused Saboteurs of hiding hounds in the landy. “Where’s my f***ing hounds gone?!”
The hunt, no doubt bored of looking for lost hounds again, spent the rest of the day harassing, kicking and driving at Saboteurs. At around 2, hounds hunted through Uppacott nature reserve, owned by Devon Wildlife Trust, where the hunt are definitely banned from entering.
Unfortunately another fox was killed yesterday by the Torrington. This fox was retrieved by Saboteurs after being dumped over a hedge by the hunt in an attempt to hide the body. The fox had been killed by just a few hounds and had fresh bite marks around his neck.
When the owner of the meet at Oak Farm was told the hunt had killed and that hounds were currently still all over the Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve, she announced that she was “delighted” to hear about it. “Absolutely thrilled”. Devon Wildlife Trust are aware and we will be sharing our video footage with them. (Note from GTSEC – we also reported the incident to the Trust)
With Craddock packing up, we headed towards Ashridge Court on the edge of North Tawton to catch the end of the Eggesford Opening Meet. Hounds were seen in cry immediately, with Saboteurs running in to rate and call them off. Huntsman Jason Marles spent the rest of the day in and around Ashridge Court, with hounds often heard in cry and Saboteurs’ intervention required multiple times.
8th November 2021
According to the Saboteurs, few hunts manage to lose their hounds as often as the Torrington Farmers. In November we had several people report the Torrington Farmers Hunt for losing their dogs. On the same day we reported the Stevenstone Hunt to Devon County Council and others for invading and blocking the Tarka Trail, where they are not allowed.
15th November 2021
On Saturday we had reports from the Alverdiscott, Guscott and Gammaton Road areas. The Torrington Farmers Hunt was in the area again. We speculated as to why the hunt was spending so much time around the Ford family’s land – maybe it was because other local landowners are telling them to stay away.
The people who reported the hunt to us on Saturday could hear the hounds for most of the afternoon but they didn’t go into cry. It was clear Steve Craddock had lost his dogs. Friends across the area got in touch saying they stood in their gardens while the dusk fell, listening as Steve Craddock blew his horn for more than an hour. Eventually our friends got bored and went indoors. It was pitch black.
25th November 2021
People told us the Torrington Farmers Hunt’s hounds were off enjoying an unsupervised jolly around St Giles late last night… with no hunt staff to be seen. Were they making a bid for freedom or had Steve and Jack lost them out hunting yesterday and went home without them?
1st December 2021
Several people contacted us to say they’d seen the TFH at around mid-day near Torrington Dump, running through fields of sheep. Our source said it was probably land belonging to the hunt friendly Metherill family. Was it their sheep being terrorised?
10th December 2021 – TFH written statement
When one of our friends sent us an article they’d seen published in the Alverdiscott and Huntshaw parish Local Rag, along with the Torrington Farmers Hunt’s written reply, we were excited. We never thought we’d get any insight from them about why they think it’s OK to keep hunting. The TFH’s response reveals all. Here is the original article, the hunt’s reply, and our response to their claims:
What the article said:
The Hunting Act 2005 made hunting with dogs illegal. On 15th October 2021 a case heard at Westminster Magistrate’s Court found that ‘trail hunting’ is a myth used by fox hunts since 2005 to cover up the illegal hunting of foxes, mink, hares and deer. Recently two older parishioners, in separate chats, told me they didn’t realise fox hunting is illegal. Now more than ever, it’s really important for our parish’s landowners to understand the law so they don’t end up in trouble with the police and Crown Prosecution Service! Here it is:
- A person commits an offence when they hunt a wild mammal with a dog or dogs
- If a person knowingly permits land they own to be entered or used ‘in the course of the commission of an offence’ under Section 1 of the Hunting Act, they are committing an offence
- At the same time, ignorance of the law is no excuse. You can be prosecuted even if you didn’t realise hunting is against the law. In legal language, ‘A person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely by being unaware of its content’
The TFH said
The Torrington Farmers Hunt operates within the confines of the Hunting Act 2004 at all times. We conduct lawful activities including trail hunting and hound exercise. The law is quite clear that using a pack of hounds to hunt and follow an artificial trail is a legal activity and that was confirmed by the judgement in the recent Mark Hankinson case where the court made it clear that ‘trail hunting is not illegal’.
Our summarised reply
Torrington Farmers Hunt members are lying to the landowners who trust them, some of whom will be their friends and relatives. They are lying to their community, the police, their insurers, and themselves. It is legal to ‘exercise’ hounds. But landowners across the UK are banning fictional Trail Hunting because it has been used for 17 years as a cover-up for fox hunting. The TFH is defending itself using an excuse that has just been proved a sham by one of the highest courts in the land, one that is losing hunts access to thousands of acres of land across the UK.
The TFH said
The Hunting Act 2004 states that ‘A person commits an offence if he knowingly permits land which belongs to him to be entered or used in the course of the commission of a crime’. We are not aware of anyone ever having been convicted of this offence, and certainly no landowner has ever been convicted, or even tried, under this section in relation to the activities of a registered hunt.
Our summarised reply
We are shocked at how selfish the TFH is, and by the lack of respect they show the landowners who trust them. Thanks to the court case we’ve mentioned, hunts and hunt-friendly landowners are being looked at closely by the police. In 2021 Gloucester police, for example, launched a ‘major crackdown’ on fox hunting, using quads and drones to get the evidence they need for wildlife crime prosecutions.
- Update: In summer 2022 the first legal case was announced against landowners permitting fox hunting on their land. We await the verdict.
The TFH said
Registered hunts, including the Torrington Farmers, have been very clear about their commitment to operate legally since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005 and there have been a tiny number of prosecutions of hunts over hundreds of thousands of days hunting. As a landowner, you give permission for the hunt to carry out legal activity and there can be no question of ‘knowingly permitting’ illegal hunting.
Example landowner declaration
I am writing to confirm that I have given permission for the Torrington Farers Hunt to carry out legal activity on land at [ENTER DETAILS] on the understanding that it operates entirely within the confines of the Hunting Act 2004 and any other relevant legislation. Any reach of the Hunting Act, or any other law, by the Torrington farmers Hunt, it’s employees or supporters will result in the immediate revocation pf permission to access and operate on the land.
Our summarised reply
The TFH says it has always had a clear commitment to operate legally. But evidence on the Devon County Hunt Saboteurs and Devon Against Hunting Facebook page reveals them being caught red-handed killing foxes. Search Google to see the Ford family’s 2004 vow to carry on hunting whatever the law says, which appeared in the newspapers at the time. We politely asked the TFH for the following written digital / paper evidence of their ‘clear commitment’ to obeying the law, by sharing some of the documents below. We never heard back from them:
- Paper / digital invoices for the fox scent alternatives you have been using to train fox hounds since 2005. If not, provide the supplier and we’ll get date-stamped proof that way
- Photos / video from the last 17 years showing trail laying
- Mentions of trail laying in hunt paperwork
- Records kept about the twice-weekly trails laid since 2005
The TFH’s amateur ‘example’ legal declaration for landowners seems to waive people’s legal rights in worrying ways. We’re not experts but we wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. It clearly isn’t a ‘get out of jail free card’ for the TFH or landowners. A crime is a crime.
You can’t claim on your insurance when you have allowed a crime to take place on your land. By signing an unwise declaration like the one the TFH suggests, you don’t do yourself any favours. Every time the TFH hunts a fox it invalidates its own insurances, whatever they might be. They can’t claim on their insurance if something goes wrong, either.
14th December 2021 – As reported by the Devon County Hunt Saboteurs:
Torrington Farmers 11.12.21
On Saturday we spent the day sabbing the Torrington Farmers Hunt meet at Deptford, High Bickington. Over four hours they did several laps of the Deptford to Vauterhill valley with a brief stint around Glenmore and Shuteley Farms. Unsurprisingly, there was no sign of trails being laid at any point and when this was pointed out to huntsman Steve Craddock he gestured to the nearest person, who just so happened to be one of the most unfit-looking hunt followers, and said “there, that’s my trail-layer”.
It was tough-going for our foot Saboteurs at times, as the fields were very water-logged. Hounds took off in cry on a couple of occasions. Our three foot teams did their best to keep tabs on the hunt throughout and covered the scent of a fox running from hounds.
We faced a fair bit of aggression from hunt supporters throughout the day, as well as the usual childish and misogynistic comments from kennel-huntsman Jack Rowles. On Deptford Moor he forced his horse to ride at Saboteurs, kicking them from his mounted position. Even the huntsman had had enough of Jack’s tantrums by this point, as he called him over and told him to stop and “shut the f*** up”. Fortunately, by 3pm the Torrington Toddler was packed up and headed for home.
20th December 2021
We reported the Torrington Farmers Hunt getting significant small business rate rebates since 2006 – and the hunt was also awarded £10,000 from the COVID-19 Small Business Support Fund, despite the fact that, by this stage in the season, they had already done all this:
- Repeatedly contravened the 2004 hunting act, killing multiple foxes
- Continued to claim they engage in trail hunting – but failed to lay and follow any trails
- Blocked motorists on public highways
- Issued misogynistic abuse at members of the public
- Repeatedly lost control of their hounds
- Upset people who live near their kennels with anti social behaviour
- And – in a recent encounter – Jack Rawles purposely rode his horse directly at hunt saboteurs, who he then kicked from his mounted position; a serious violent assault
Here are the details of the money they’ve been given, sourced via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests:
“Torrington Farmers Hunt qualify for SBRR as their rateable value is below the threshold of 15,000. They have not received payments for this, but the relief awarded reduces their bill accordingly.”
In fact The Torrington Farmers Hunt has paid NO RATES for the past 15 years.
RELIEF AWARDED TO THE TORRINGTON FARMERS HUNT
- 2006/7 £553.80
- 2007/8 £573.30
- 2008/9 £595.40
- 2009/10 £625.30
- 2010/11 £970.17
- 2011/12 £1457.27
- 2012/13 £1597.50
- 2013/14 £1640.10
- 2014/15 £1672.05
- 2015/16 £1704.00
- 2016/17 £1718.20
- 2017/18 £1840.19
- 2018/19 £2037.55
- 2019/20 £2292.86
- 2020/21 £2678.98
The Torrington Farmers Hunt also took full advantage of the government’s COVID grant scheme. They were awarded £10,000 from the COVID-19 Small Business Support Fund.
Next, see what the Stevenstone Hunt was awarded by Torridge District Council from 2006 to 2021 as Small Business Rate Relief. Clearly sheepish for some reason, the Stevenstone hunt originally denied they had received any money under SBRR until our friend proved it by sending them historical information that they could not deny without revealing themselves as liars.
RELIEF AWARDED TO THE STEVENSTONE HUNT
- 2011/12 £1011.75
TOTAL £16,046.37 of taxpayers’ money, paid to people who break the law twice a week, every week, for more than half the year.
23rd December 2021
More intelligence sent to us by local people: we reported how, according to several locals, hunting is not allowed on Torrington Commons – but in recent years the Torrington Farmers Hunt has been spotted hunting on the Commons on Boxing Day.
24th December 2021
Another report from a member of the public revealed how residents close to the Torrington Farmers kennels had to endure hours and hours of the hounds barking, whining and crying all night. Between 2 and 4am they were particularly upset and howling and fighting. The dogs are crowded together – dogs one side, bitches the other. Some of the injuries they inflict on each other are horrible. As our informant said, “You can bet they don’t see a vet for treatment.”
27th December 2021
Some of our friends followed the Torrington Farmers Hunt criminal gang around on Monday 27th December. We featured their film and photos of the hunt creating a hazard on a main road, completely losing control of their dogs. We were also pleased to hear how local landowners, whose land the hunt was on without permission, were telling the hunt to eff off when the hounds ran amok across a precious area being re-wilded.
31st December 2021
We revealed how Cranford Cross Farm in St Giles in the Wood welcomes the TFH on their land, recommending people who love wildlife should not buy from Cranford Animal Supplies Limited. They are also involved with the Elevation Festival at Cranford Cross Farm, an event for animal lovers to avoid. On the same day we were told by several people that the TFH might be in the Newton Tracey area for their New Year 2022 crime spree.
10th January 2022 – Here’s a report from Devon County Hunt Saboteurs:
Torrington Farmers 8.1.22
On Saturday we joined North Devon Wildlife and Hunt Monitors to sab the Torrington Farmers Hunt as they basically reran a meet we sabbed only a few weeks ago. They seem determined to terrorise the wildlife around High Bickington.
The meet was at Bartridge and huntsman Steve Craddock immediately headed south through Knapp and Wixland. We were warned by monitors, who were in the area before we arrived, that a bunch of rowdy quad bike riders were giving them grief. Saboteurs intercepted and were met by 5 thugs on quad bikes skidding through the mud to do the usual song and dance about trespassing while driving at and into Saboteurs. One particular brat, related to terrierman Andrew Braunton, tried to push one of our Saboteurs off a steep bank.
After this, the hunt moved south past High Bickington and spent some time hunting the fields and valleys between Vauterhill and Dadlands. With hounds frequently in cry, Saboteurs were able to intervene multiple times and turn them back towards huntsman. One of the landowners, who was on horseback, kept insisting they were trail-hunting until she was asked to point out where the trail layer was, to which she didn’t have a response. Eventually she said “well we haven’t found a fox”. Some atrocious weather and Saboteurs’ constant presence put an end to the hunt at about 2.30 with Craddock and a smattering of damp quad followers gathering behind a shed at Deptford Farm.
19th January 2022
Some friends reported a large number of loose hounds in their garden. The dogs caused damage to the garden and had obviously been there for some time before they were noticed. It could be clearly seen where they had broken in, and where they’d spent time digging and kicking up the lawn.
20th January 2022
We shared the full report we were sent about the hound invasion mentioned above:
“Our garden was invaded by a large number of fox hounds on Wednesday 19th January. The hounds were running loose with no one in charge. As usual we had no warning. The hunters were nowhere in sight and we couldn’t hear any horns. We managed to get our pets indoors just in time, but it was a very close call. I phoned our neighbour who keeps horses, so she could make them safe. Some of the hounds ran into a sheep field, terrifying the sheep. I called the farm to let them know. One dog crapped in our garden, leaving us with a bio-hazard to deal with.
We drove the dogs out of our garden with a lot of difficulty. Some hunters eventually turned up, out of sight up the hill. We clearly heard them struggling to control and gather the hounds. A quad bike drove past our house with supporters on board. They parked up the hill by the farm to either get a good view of any foxes flushed by the hounds, or look for lost hounds. A couple more hounds appeared, and they also ran through our garden. The hunt and their dogs eventually disappeared, heading south. We called 999 as requested by our local police Wildlife Officers and they logged the incident. They called back a while later to get more details. I also emailed our Wildlife Officer to let them know what happened.
We believe the hunt either lost their dogs ‘accidentally on purpose’, having ‘cast’ them to see if they picked up a fox scent, or they just lost control as they frequently do, leaving a large pack of dangerous dogs to rampage without supervision. The hunt did not lay any kind of trail through our garden.”
24th January 2022 – Here’s a report about the Stevenstone Hunt from the Devon County Hunt Sabs:
Stevenstone Hunt 22.1.22
On Saturday we went to sab the Stevenstone Hunt’s meet at Five Lanes Cross near Abbots Bickington. They started off drawing the woods behind Court Barton, before heading north towards Gardenclose Wood where the huntsman scattered his hounds all over the valley and spent the next hour trying to gather them again, setting the pattern for the day!
The huntsman then dismounted and went north into the woods and valleys around Stowford Cross. Again this effort consisted of losing half his hounds and spending most of the time on the phone trying to get his horse brought back to him. Hounds did pick up on a scent around Bower Plantation following it back to Hankford Cross where sabs found hounds marking a badger sett. Terriermen and hunt staff were lurking around, but with sabs on the scene the huntsman took his hounds and a dig out was averted.
The hunt then went south towards Bulkworthy, where sabs followed the bloody paw prints of an injured hound. As the Stevenstone continued to draw the valley between Town Farm and East Bridge Farm, a number of deer were seen breaking, as well as a fox dashing east, but with hounds scattered around the valley by sabs calling against the huntsman, everyone got away safely. After a second loop of the valley the huntsman finally managed to gather his pack and, with hounds still dripping blood, rode back to box up at Five Lanes Cross.
Over the course of the day (and most days we are out) sabs walked through some vile farms, wading through rivers of slurry to get out of Town Farm, and walking over freshly ‘fertilised’ fields to follow the hunt. Next time you hear badgers blamed for TB, remember that half the farms in Devon are wading in shit.
2nd February 2022
Local people saw Torrington Farmers Hunt vehicles in the Guscott and Huntshaw Wood area. We warned everyone to keep an eye open for rampaging hounds because their usual master, Steve Craddock, had broken his leg, leaving the dogs under the ‘control’ of Jack Rawles who clearly is not very good at it.
Saturday 12th February 2022 – Here’s a report from the North Devon Wildlife and Hunt Monitors:
We stumbled across Torrington farmers Hunt meet at a yard on the edge of Kingscott, a short distance from the hunts kennels in St Giles in the Wood.
With a pathetic 6 riders, one of whom was a child!! and less than a dozen vehicles, the hunt set off from the back of the farm and headed towards their hunting grounds of Palmers Hill copse, The woods south of Stoney Ford and a small strip of thicket running east along the roadside from there. Aside from a short time spent trying to sneak into Dodscott Wood (A forestry commission woodland they are banned from) and a quick flit near Woolleigh Brook, they spent all day in these same areas. Unfortunately this area is home to large herds of deer and throughout the day the hunt took great joy in seeing these animals flee for their lives from the baying hounds.
Hunt supporters frothing at the mouth lined the road waiting for their blood lust to be quenched. But unfortunately for them, our group was able to stay with the pack all day and ensure no wildlife was harmed. Quad boy Richard Willis tried to say he was a trail layer. Funny though as instead of any trail laying equipment, all he was carrying was 2 spades…
The support were much more aggressive and angry than usual, all we can think is we’re getting to them. Which is absolutely marvellous! Unusually kennel-serf-and-stand-in-master Jack Rowles was very quiet but his girlfriend Laura Cooper decided to take up the reigns of foul mouthed troll and together with Terrier man Andrew Braunton spent the day shouting abuse at us, trying to run us over and blocking our vehicle. As well as illegally hunting, we witnessed public roads being blocked numerous times, our vehicle being scraped by a quad passing too close, hounds crapping in people’s driveways and quads with no number plates.
11th February 2022 – Here’s a report from Devon County Hunt Saboteurs:
Torrington/Stevenstone/Lamerton – 5.2.22
We had a busy day last Saturday, sabbing 3 hunts. We started with the joint meet of the Torrington Farmers and the Stevenstone at Huntshaw near Little Torrington. For a joint meet the turn-out was poor, with around 10 riders and a similar number of followers. They started out drawing the woods to the west of Huntshaw at Broadridge, with huntsman quickly losing hounds who were then gathered by Saboteurs. After that, the hunt kept the hounds close as they rode through Kennick’s wood. There they lost about half the riders who were unable to cross a fallen tree blocking the path.
Ten minutes later, as the rest of them crossed a low fence, one of the horses got their foot stuck and threw a shoe. The horse seemed to be uninjured but that kind of accident could be fatal, and the hunt knew it, with two of the riders wailing and crying while Saboteurs and other hunt members scrambled to free the horse. We hate to see any animal in distress, so to those crying members of the hunt here’s a tip – if you care about your horse, don’t go out fox hunting! And while you’re at it, try to have some of the same compassion for the wildlife you’re there to kill.
With the field lost, the two Stevenstone redcoats and the Torrington kennelman hacked up the Tarka Trail back to the kennels on the edge of Great Torrington without casting out the hounds. A pretty pathetic display but make no mistake, if not for Saboteurs they would have spent the day hunting and killing in that area.
Since there were a few more hours of daylight left, we decided to go to the Lamerton meet at Higher Quither near Chillaton. There we found the hunt, with hounds in cry, not far from the meet, in the woods south west of Liddaton Down. We caught up with the pack marking a badger sett in full view of the hunt. Realising Saboteurs were in the area the hunt moved on and quickly retreated back to the meet. The Lamerton were in a foul mood with terrier man Wayne Bartlett brandishing a spade (which he has “because there’s sheep in the field”) and toothless goon Paul Martin trying to intimidate Saboteurs as we watched them pack up and leave.
15th February 2022
Here’s a second report we shared about the Torrington Farmers Hunt meet on Saturday 12th February, from another source:
Laura Cooper and Andrew Braunton spewed foul mouthed abuse at monitors – all day long. In addition to this obnoxious performance our local criminal hunt gang were witnessed:
- Illegally hunting (there was no attempt made to lay or follow any trails)
- Public roads blocked on multiple occasions.
- Aggressive, dangerous quad driving (Andrew Braunton attempted to run monitors over)
- Monitor’s vehicle damaged by a hunt quad
- Hounds fouling in people’s driveways
- Quads on public roads without licence plates (a favourite of the TFH)
On the same day we had reports of fox hounds escaping on exercise last week, seen running amok over neighbouring properties near the kennels – entering private gardens and leaving one family distressed as their young cat was out. The hounds were seen bolting away from the kennels, which speaks volumes.
6th March 2022 – Here’s a report from the Devon County Hunt Saboteurs:
Torrington Farmers 2.3.22
On Wednesday we sabbed the Torrington Farmers Hunt who met on the edge of Beaford Moor. As we arrived, a tired-looking fox trotted towards and across the busy main road, indicating that the hunt were probably already drawing the valley around Down Farm. We ensured the fox was safe and then caught up with the hunt as they headed north via Roborough, crossing a lot of ground before casting hounds out in the valley between Lower Whitsleigh and Middle Barlington. Kennel huntsman Jack Rowley, who has taken over the horn since huntsman Steve Craddock broke his leg a few weeks ago, got his horse stuck in deep mud as he headed west through the valley. Hounds flushed several deer in this area but otherwise drew blank.
Around Ramscliffe Farm more wildlife were seen fleeing from the woods, including a fox, but Saboteurs were on hand to cover their scent. From here everything headed north and we lost the hunt for a while. They too seemed to lose most of their support and riders. By mid-afternoon only Jack and the hounds remained, with Craddock watching on from the road.
8th March 2022
A friend of ours reported hunting activity on Clinton Devon Estate land to the Estate Office. We were keen to see the response. The Estate said it does not does not condone illegal activity on its land, advising our friend that anyone who sees hunt crime taking place on Estate land should call the police. On the other hand they give the TFH and Stevenstone Hunt licenses for fictional ‘legal’ trail hunting on estate land. In fact they allow and support hunt crime.
From April 2022 to September 2022
People have reported this to the page out-of-season, since April 2022:
- 15th April – We shared a report of a lost hound on the busy A377
- 5th May – We shared a report from the Torrington Town News FB page warning people about dog mess down by the river, near the Puffing Billy. The culprits? The Stevenstone Hunt hounds.
- 28th June – Members of the public sent us video and sightings of Stevenstone Hunt hounds being exercised on the A386, a very busy winding road, by two men on bicycles, holding up the traffic and clearly extremely dangerous. Apparently it’s an everyday occurrence.
- 13th August – We heard reports that the Torrington Farmers Hunt has started its early morning cubbing activity. Apparently, hounds were lost in St Giles and were running around people’s gardens, exhausted in the heatwave. Residents near the hunt kennels report they have been endlessly disturbed for weeks and weeks, all through the night. People in St Giles are constantly subjected to many hours of noisy dogs whining, barking, howling and fighting as well as dog poo absolutely everywhere, thanks to the TFH kennels.
- September 2022 – As at 2nd September the TFH has already been sabbed twice, prevented from killing foxes.