The College Valley and North Northumberland Hunt was formed in 1982 when the College Valley which hunted the Cheviot Hills on both sides of the border amalgamated with their neighbours, the North Northumberland which hunted the low country east of the Cheviots to the sea. The marriage brought together two very different packs of hounds: Lord Joicey’s North Northumberland Hounds which were similar in type to today’s Old English foxhounds and Sir Alfred Goodson’s famed College Valley hill hounds. Although neighbours the countries’ were very different too – the College Valley country being wild and hilly while the North Northumberland, presided over by the Joicey family, was a traditional lowland outfit comprised of grass and arable and plenty of walls and timber for jumping.
The arrangement provided plenty of new country for Sir Alfred’s successor at the College Valley, Martin Letts MFH, previously huntsman of the Bolebroke Beagles, who was Master and Huntsman at the time of the amalgamation. Martin Letts hunted the pack in their previous and present incarnation for 39 seasons, he is still a Master today. His Kennel Huntsman, Andrew Proe, has been in his job since 1985.
Martin Letts was succeeded as Master and Huntsman by Ian McKie (previously Master of the Bicester with Whaddon Chase for 16 seasons) when he moved to the area with his wife Tocky and two daughters. Ian retired in 2016 and was succeeded by Adam Waugh MFH, a farmer in the College Valley country, who has hunted the New Forest, Sinnington and South and West Wilts Hounds.
The hunt is fortunate enough to be located in one of Britain’s least populated areas and as a result has not seen as many of the changes that have blighted hunting countries further south.