THE streets of Upton were lined with people on Christmas Eve to welcome the return of their local hunt’s traditional gathering.

About 80 huntsmen from the Croome and West Warwickshire fox hounds met outside the Star Hotel, in the High Street, at 11am as all ages turned out in support.

Horses have been absent from the festive meet over the past two years because of slippery conditions caused by ice and snow, so the mild conditions only added to the warm welcome as the clattering sound of hooves filled the air.

The crowd was further entertained by a performance from a brass band.

Charlotte Key, chairman of the supporters club, said the passing riders and hounds were met with clapping and cheering.

“There was a lot of people there and it was very well supported. Everybody was really pleased to see the horses again after two years of it being snowy and icy. It was really nice to be back on the horses.”

The hunt’s country covers about 20 square miles across Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire and it has existed in its present form since the ninth Earl of Coventry took it over in 1874.