AN annual Boxing Day hunt in County Durham has been cancelled due to the impact of coronavirus.

The Braes of Derwent Hunt, which meets in Lanchester, has announced their meet will not be going ahead this year to avoid any breach of Covid-19 guidelines on large gatherings.

A Countryside Alliance spokesperson said: "The officials of the Braes of Derwent Hunt, have taken this unusual step in order to prevent any potential breach of legislation regarding large gatherings and also to ensure the wellbeing of the local community who are so supportive each and every year.

“Subject to the government guidance in place at the time, it is anticipated that hunting activities will still take place on Boxing Day, but like so many other leisure and sporting events, these will sadly have to take place behind closed doors.

“Over a quarter of a million people usually support Boxing Day meets each year so we appreciate that seeing the hounds and watching the spectacle of the meet is often one of the highlights of the annual festive activities for so many in the local area.”

“The Braes of Derwent is disappointed that their Boxing Day meet will not go ahead at the normal location and will follow a different format this year due to coronavirus restrictions, but is very much looking forward to welcoming large numbers of supporters back again in 2021.”