Hunt supporters were determined to maintain their Boxing Day tradition yesterday, despite being unable to stage their annual pursuit in normal fashion.

The Braes of Derwent Hunt, in north-west Durham, is among those affected by lingering restrictions imposed during the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Hunting was cancelled nationally following the onset of the virus in February.

But, while it is resumed in most rural areas, Northumberland and Durham are still subject to animal movement restrictions.

Braes of Derwent members and supporters are awaiting clearance from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to allow some form of hunting to take place before the traditional end of the season, in late March.

But they came together yesterday in Lanchester to observe one tradition of the usual Boxing Day hunt.

The event, the Braes of Derwent's biggest hunt of the year, has been started in recent years with members downing a goblet - or stirrup cup - of mulled wine at the Queen's Head pub, in Lanchester.

Despite being unable to hunt, about 75 members and supporters packed the pub to enjoy some refre.

It was also a rare chance for locals to view the Braes of Derwent foxhounds, which have been effectively confined to kennels, in Whittonstall, since February 23.

Twelve-and-a-half couples of the hounds, 25 in layman's terms, were paraded in front of the pub while the traditional toast was taken.

Braes of Derwent chairman, Alan Chapman, the acting master of the hunt, said: "It's a nice chance for the hunt supporters to come together and see the hounds. Regardless of the politics, a lot of people in the village enjoy the spectacle on Boxing Day.