And they’re off! Hundreds of traveller families take over Appleby on the first day of the village’s famous annual horse fair
- Traveller families and horse breeders alike gather together in the Westmorland area of Cumbria for the event
- It attracts over 10,000 visitors every year and runs until Wednesday next week with many going this weekend
- Organisers have warned of slow-moving traffic on the route surrounding the fair and have told drivers to leave plenty of time
Hundreds have descended on the quaint village of Appleby for the first day of its famous annual horse fair, which runs all weekend.
Traveller families, horse breeders and Shetland pony lovers alike gather together in the Westmorland area of Cumbria for the event which attracts around 10,000 visitors every year.
One tradition which had continued through the ages is the washing of the horses in the River Eden, which is undertaken in order to get the horses ready for their debuts and pictures today showed both riders and their horses enjoying a splash.
This is while people were also pictured today riding their horses down the roads, on a back drop of traffic cones which had been put in place by the local authorities.
The event runs until Wednesday next week and organisers have said the best time for those wishing to visit the fair is Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Organisers have also warned those who usually use the route to get to work to leave plenty of time for their journey today, due to slow moving traffic in the area.
They have also asked those travelling to Appleby to reduced their speed and watch out for horse-drawn carriages.
The sun is out so the shades are on! One woman was seen on her horse in the river, where she was washing it in preparation of the first day of the fair
Smile for the camera! This horse was seen giving a toothy grin today as its owner took it into the river for a dip
One man was seen riding in a cart with his pony charging ahead today as many gather for the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair
Cart envy! One man rides with two horses and a large cart painted in green while two other men cram into a small cart together
The Fair is also known as a courting venue for the gipsies, with their strict code of morals. The young women put on finery to parade up and down the streets, which are closed to traffic for the four-days Fair.
The Horse Fair in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, is described by Gipsies as their ‘Mecca’, where they gather to live their traditional life-style and sell horses. The sturdy ponies are prized throughout the world and have been known to fetch £100,000 each.
The gates to Gallows Hill, named after the public hangings once held there, and the main camping ground of the gipsies were due to open at dawn.
But there were so many horse-drawn bow-top caravans and more modern ‘palaces on wheels’ that the police asked the organisers to open up last night.
Gipsie spokesman, or Shera Rom, Billy Welch, said today: ‘Hopefully everything will go smoothly and safely and we avoid the worst of the weather.
‘There were so many caravans queuing to get on the site last night, the police asked us to open the gate early. At least we got all the horse drawn vehicles off the roads, which is could for all road users.
A young boy rides around in a bespoke carriage and looks back to check for other horses in the road. Families from across Europe attend the event in Cumbria
Chilling in my sunnies! This youngster looks cool as a cucumer as he rides around the river on his pony wearing a flat cap and sunshades
One woman clutches onto her friend with dear life as they wade through the waters of the river during the first day of the horse fair
‘I am delighted that there seem to be more families than ever and the number of bow-top caravans is up 50 per cent, which shows that the traditional way of life is thriving.’
Chief Superintendent Rob O’Connor, for Cumbria Police, confirmed there were 90 more bow-top caravans than last year. The decision to open the Fair hill early had worked well, he said.
A total of 1200 caravans are due at the event, with 400-500 on Fair Hill and rest in fields opened up by local land owners.
Those attending the fair today will enjoy balmy and clear conditions, despite clouds looming over most of the village. It is expected to be clear until around 3pm this afternoon, when there will be a short spell of rain for around one hour.
Wacky races! One man was seen going as full speed on his horse this afternoon as many ride their horses down the streets in order to parade them
A beautiful day! These two boys have a chat and gossip in the river as they sit a top their horses. The event in Cumbria is known for socialising
People were on the river banks today equipped with their cameras in order to get the best snaps of those attending the fair this season
Even youngsters were seen getting involved in the festivities today and this boy was seen in the river with his lovely horse
This horse looks majestic as it stand in a field on a back drop of light mixed with grey clouds in the background
This youngster seems to know what he is doing as he buckles up his horse as the lovely sunshine shines down on both of them
From 4-6pm there will be some clouds but then after that the rest of the day is said to be filled with glorious sunshine.
This evening is set to be clear with the sun rising on Friday at around 4.37am, an early start for those looking to get their preparations underway for the rest of the weekend.
Friday isn’t looking too good though and many will need their waterproofs as rain is expected in the afternoon. the early morning will be sunny but the rest of the day will be cloudy, which may mean many will have to tuck into a local pub for shelter or take refuge in their carts.
Friday evening will be dry with some showers while Saturday will also see some rainfall in the village.
Ahead of the fair, the RSPCA had taken to the River Eden in order to remove a number of hazards which could have injured both the horses and their riders.
On June 4, RSPCA Frontline tweeted: ‘RSPCA Water Rescue Officers have removed a number of hazards from the River Eden ahead of Appleby Horse Fair’.
The village seems to be getting busier and busier throughout the day with many people lining either side of the streets
Raring to go! This man, who was wearing blue tracksuit bottoms and a fleece jacket, was seen riding around on his cart with his beautiful horse ahead
Those attending the fair stand outside a fish and chip shop in the village. Cordons in place have been put up by the organisers and the local authorities
Full speed ahead! This horse looks like it’s having the time of its life as it gallops down one of the roads just outside of Appleby earlier today
These two youngsters were seen wearing casual attire as they sat in a back of a cart pulled along by their horse who was white with black markings
Residents in Appleby have said the event has got too big for the small village. People can be seen watching while these men go through the village
Today they also tweeted: ‘RSPCA Officers at Appleby Horse Fair have rescued a couple of slightly smaller animals after their attention was brought to these two young Tits who had fallen from their nest. They’ll be hand reared before hopefully being released back to the wild.’
The charity is on hand throughout the event in order to safeguard and protect the animals which usually live in an undisturbed habitat.
Despite the excitement around the fair not everyone is excited with many residents of Appleby having said they are fearing for their safety.
Yesterday residents said the event has just gotten too big and that it wasn’t what it had been 20 years ago.
It was lovely you could walk round everyone was friendly. It’s just got too big for the area.
‘There is no respect for locals who are just trying to get on and you don’t feel safe you feel threatened.’
Caravans and mobile homes, as well as more traditional carts can be seen covering much of the village as people meet up and chat with each other
Those attending Appleby today are in for a treat as the weather looks to be balmy for the majority of the day – but is set to take a turn for the worse over the weekend
Decorative paintwork adorns a bow top caravan on the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair as the sun continues to shine down
Photo call! Stunning horses line up to have their photo taken in Appleby. The horses were tethered to a railing nearby
A family ride down the road in their horse and cart. The fair is an annual gathering for gipsie, Romany and travelling communities
Best dressed horse? This gorgeous horse looks relaxed as it stands in a field while wearing a blue coat which is emblazoned with golden crowns
Speaking to the News and Star one resident said: ‘At one time they (The Gypsy and Traveller Community) just came down to water the horses and went back on the hill. That’s where the fair was but now they take over.’
The infamous fair, which has attracted complaints in the past, will see an added security presence this year and a restriction on caravan numbers.
Last year’s event was the scene of a violent attack on a 66-year-old grandfather called Patrick.
He revealed how he thought he was moments from death when he was dragged from his car and brutally beaten by travellers after he accidentally hit a toddler at Appleby Horse Fair.
Patrick, a local shop owner, accidentally hit the three-year-old boy, who lived in an unofficial traveller site, when he ran out in front of his car.
The boy was left with a broken arm.
I’m in the wild wild west! Strip away the white vans and pavements and you can imagine this youngster in a scene from a wild western movie
Many people are seen gathering behind banisters in the village as horse drawn carts continue their procession through Appleby this afternoon
Standing proud! This horse looked majestic as it received a full wash from its owners during the start of the fair today
Splish splash I was taking a bath! This horse seems to be enjoying its time in the river and can be seen splashing about with its owner
Wash before the rain! Big grey clouds can be seen gathering as people gather on the banks of the river, while others wash their horses
Time to relax! Many were gathered on the banks of the river today as they took in the stunning scenery and balmy weather conditions
Yesterday a spokesman for the Appleby Horse Fair Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group said: ‘The first priority for all MASCG members is keeping people safe.
‘In line with this priority and concerns raised about the safety of pedestrians, the MASCG is putting in place measures designed to improve pedestrian safety on The Sands.
‘The pedestrian crossing at The Sands is to be guarded with barriers on both sides of the carriageway, keeping the pedestrian crossing free for pedestrians and removing the potential for horses travelling over the crossing to collide with people.
‘A diversion is to be put in place, taking traffic from Battlebarrow to Bongate along Garth Heads Road.
‘This will be the first year these measures have been put in place and they will be monitored closely by the different agencies.’
‘We continue to encourage anyone who experiences an offence to contact the police. We have a dedicated Appleby-specific 101 reporting line. Police cannot be expected to tackle issues if they are not reported.’
One man was seen in shorts and a vest top as he took his horse into the waters if the river to make sure it look shiny and new
Getting ready for the weekend! The fair runs until next Wednesday but organisers say the best time to visit is over the weekend. Pictured above – people washing their horses
Horse grooming products can be seen on the river bed (left as one man soaps up his horse and washes it in the river (right)
Matching locks! This horse owner and her horse having the same colour and and seemed to be enjoying the festivities of the day
Making friends! These horses stopped for a chat in the river, as one owner seems to be trying to pull them away from each other
Appleby Horse Fair is the biggest gathering of gipsies in Europe and attracts around 10,000 visitors a year. (Pictured above: a man enjoying riding his horse)