Hundreds flooded Maldon High Street to watch as riders set off on a New Year hunt.

The annual Maldon New Year’s Day hunt met outside in the Blue Boar Hotel’s car park, in Silver Street, before heading down the High Street.

The riders – a gathering of members from the Essex Farmers and Union Hunt group – trotted through the town centre with their hounds as huge crowds watched.

The event has been running for around 15 years.

Kate Wilsdon-Craddock, who took on the Blue Boar pub two years ago, said she was delighted to see such a large turn-out for the event, which is a tradition in the town.

She said: “It all went very, very well, it was fantastic. We had beautiful weather and the streets were packed.

“You couldn’t get down the courtyard – there were about 600 people there.

“Of course there are no foxes killed ­— its just ceremonial, and a way of saying happy New Year.

“It’s nice to see the children enjoying themselves.”

Fox hunting with hounds is banned in the UK. Kate said the Maldon event sees no real hunting take place and no animals are hurt.

This year there were no anti-hunt protesters present at the event.