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Traditional Horse Washing at Appleby Fair

In my post earlier today I showed a general view of the River Eden at Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria. The past few days have seen the annual gypsy horse fair, with crowds watching the traditional horse washing, racing and other events. Here now are some more detailed photos taken on Friday and Saturday.
(Even more Appleby Horse Fair photos.)

The Appleby Horse Fair at Appleby is a centuries-old tradition, the buying and selling of horses being combined with competitive events, and nowadays a lot of welcome tourists. This year it is estimated that around 10,000 gypsies and other travellers from around Britain, and indeed from further afield in continental Europe, came together for the largest annual event of its type in Europe.

They arrived in everything from traditional brightly decorated horse-drawn gypsy caravans (taking days or even weeks over the journey) to upmarket modern vans pulled by top of the range BMWs. Add to them something around 30,000 weekend spectator visitors, and it will be appreciated that the small town of Appleby (normal population not much more than 3,000) was somewhat crowded. There has been trouble in the past, but this year it went off well, with sensitive policing in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, especially in Saturday’s sunshine.

Here is a selection of my photos of the River Eden horse washing and swimming. A week earlier, after several days of rain, it would not have been possible to have children down on the pebble area. It was deep under water. Water levels in the Eden and of feeder streams throughout the Eden Valley, as with other Cumbrian rivers in the nearby Lake District, can rise and fall very quickly. But for most of this year’s fair the weather was kind.

Horse Washing by the Eden Appleby - Washing horse  in River Eden Appleby - Horse in Deeper Water Appleby - Riding into the river

And the crowds look on, fascinated.

Horse Fair Appleby - The Crowds Look On