COUNTRYMAN Joe Tindall retired yesterday as Glaisdale Hounds huntsman after 40 years' service.

The Cleveland, Farndale, Goathland, Saltersgate and Staintondale hunts met at Ainthorpe's Fox and Hounds pub, to pay tribute to his work. A special dinner in his honour will be held at Whitby tonight.

The teetotal 67-year-old Methodist opts for a cuppa when others have sherry or whisky, before moving off across the moors in search of their quarry.

"I've returned home at all times of the day and night. Sometimes I've ended up miles away near Pickering and Rosedale, and had to walk back occasionally."

His connections with the Glaisdale Hunt go back to when he was a boy. "I used to sit on my dad's knee and ask him to tell me a hunt story. I used to follow it over the dale on my bike or on foot, running over the fields. I got my first horse when I was 21."

Mr Tindall works at Castle Houses Farm, a dairy farm with a few sheep, with son David. The hunt kennels moved there in 1963 and he negotiates with local farmers and landowners about their requirements from the hunt.

"I'm pleased at how everybody has accepted me. We work well together and there's nowhere the hunt can't go.

"Farmers know I'm concerned as much for their stock as my own. But, after 40 years, I'm getting a bit old and decrepit," he joked. His successor has not yet been chosen.

Away from farming and hunting, Mr Tindall is a member of Danby chapel and sings with Lealholme and Danby Church Quartet.

"I'm an old-type Methodist and enjoy a nice soft drink, like lemon-and-lime. At hunt meets, I always have a cup of tea. During the toast, the others raise their glasses and I raise my cup."