Anger after four riders topple into canal
Four members of a foxhunt who cheated death when their mounts plunged into the Trent and Mersey canal have been slammed by waterway bosses.
British Waterways has claimed their presence on the canalside was ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ and is warning hunters of towpaths.
The brush with disaster came as the Cheshire Forest Hunt members made their way home along the canal bank at Whatcroft on Saturday afternoon. ‘The horses were spooked by something. Mine lost balance and tipped into the water,’ said hunt member Bev Burgess, of Weaverham Wood Farm at Weaverham.
‘My hunt clothes became heavy from the water and I began to panic. I was shocked and terrified,’ she said. ‘I composed myself and got back on my horse to swim him to the bank but we couldn’t get out because the concrete sides were too steep. Eventually we found a grassy bit of bank and clambered out. Horses are pretty good swimmers, so I wasn’t too worried about them.’
The quarter were making their way home at about 2.30pm when the bizarre mishap occurred. According to anti-hunt campaigners, a group of 35 riders had earlier cantered along the canalside in formation.
A team of anti-hunt campaigners from the League Against Cruel Sports took still and video pictures of the hunters on the narrow towpath. ‘It is highly dangerous act, not only for the riders and horses, but for other legitimate users of the towpath such as parents with prams and anglers,’ said canal network manager Ian Selby. ‘The fact that a number of horses were involved shows how irresponsible this is. We will pursue this report vigorously.’
League Against Cruel Sports spokeswomen Janet Smart claimed the hunters cantered along the towpath for several miles. She added: ‘They upset anglers and walkers.’
Hunt master Peter Hunter told the Chronicle: ‘I know there was an incident at the canal and that they fell in. I don’t know about any canal restrictions against horses and I don’t believe 99 per cent of the public know about them either,’ he added.
The hunt joined the towpath at Croxton in Middlewich after hunting on the strip of land between the canal and the River Dane.
On the 13th December 2002, senior Cheshire Forest Hunt staff were, once again, filmed riding along the canal towpath.