HUNDREDS of spectators gathered at Rivington Hall Barn to watch the annual Holcombe Hunt.

Hounds and horses took part in the Boxing Day event, with riders smartly dressed in traditional red coats ready to chase the 12-mile scent.

More than 70 riders saddled up for the trail hunt, which took them around a pre-set course at Rivington.

The crowd braved the elements and were treated to exhibition laps around the field by the huntsmen and women, as well as children on their ponies, before the hunt began at noon to the sound of a horn led by Hunt Master Sue Simmons.

Hunting foxes and hares with dogs was outlawed in 2005 — but dogs can still be used to follow a scent.

The Holcombe Hunt is one of the oldest in the country and dates back to 1086, with its hounds believed to be direct descendants of the Blue Gascoignes, who were brought across the Channel by the Normans.