HUNDREDS of people braved the cold in Minehead on Boxing Day to witness a tradition dating back more than 100 years.

Huntsmen from Minehead Harriers and their hounds congregated outside The Beach Hotel in The Avenue for the annual Boxing Day meet – nearly four years after the hunting ban was introduced.

The 2004 Act made hunting with dogs a criminal offence, although exercising hounds, chasing a scent trail and flushing out foxes to be shot are legal.

Minehead Harriers successfully retrained its hounds to trail hunt following the ban.

The group’s secretary, Tim Holt, said it was the most successful meet in its history, despite the change in venue.

The custom was held outside The Wellington Hotel in Wellington Square for many years but was moved to a new location for the first time this year after it was sold.

Mr Holt explained: “The Beach Hotel owner, Barry Richards, who also owned The Wellington Hotel, has always been our host, so he invited us to The Avenue with open arms.

“It was the biggest crowd I have ever seen and everyone was very good-natured. There was no nonsense, no ‘antis’ and everyone gave us a great send-off to the day.”

Record numbers turned out for Boxing Day hunts with more than 300,000 huntsmen and followers converging on the countryside to take part in or cheer on events across England, Wales and Scotland.

More than 300 hunts, including 194 fox hunts with packs of hounds, met according to the Countryside Alliance. It was the biggest Boxing Day turnout since the ban was introduced.