Rain dampens spirits at the Appleby horse fair

Reined in! Hundreds of traveller families are urged not to go for a dip at Appleby Horse Fair as heavy rain closes the River Eden amid safety fears

  • The annual horse fair, in Cumbria, lasts four days and attracts around 10,000 people
  • The show attracts traveller families, horse breeders and Shetland pony lovers and is used as a courting venue
  • Riders told by Eden Council that last night’s heavy rain means they cannot go into the River Eden
  • The river is traditionally used to wash and cool off horses but Matthew Neal urged people not to take the risk 

Hundreds of people braved the poor weather conditions to attend the third day of the annual Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria.  

The tradition, which has continued through the ages, is meant to prepare the animals for their debuts at the Westmorland show that attracts traveller families, horse breeders and Shetland pony lovers alike.

The famous fair, lasting four days and attracting around 10,000 people, is also used as a courting venue for gipsies, who have a strict moral code. 

Young women put on finery and parade up and down the streets, which are closed to traffic for the duration of the event.

Riders have been told that following last night’s heavy rains they are not allowed into the River Eden, which is traditionally used to wash and cool off horses. 

Matthew Neal of Eden council told the BBC: ‘Any time any person or animal enters the river there is risk involved.

‘However, now the river levels have risen… the different agencies have taken action to keep people and animals safe.

‘We urge people to heed this warning and stay out of the River Eden.’

The annual event was issued a charter in 1685 by James II. 

These two men are sulky racing on the ‘mad mile’ on the third day of the annual Appleby Horse fair which dates back to 1685

Some 10,000  people were expected to attend this weekend’s festival although poor weather condition blighted the final day

This young man, pictured, is spattered with mud having just completed a race along the ‘mad mile’ at Appleby 

Visitors to Appleby were forced to bring out their wellington boots and umbrellas to protect them from the conditions

This woman visits a makeshift chapel featuring statues of the Virgin Mary and Padre Pio

This young girl doesn’t appear to let the poor weather conditions to spoil her enjoyment of the popular annual event 

The annual Appleby horse fair dates back to the 1685 and the time of James II who granted the event a special charter

Travellers have been told they are not allowed to wash their horses in the River Eden which has risen due to the rain

These two girls seek shelter from the rain on Saturday afternoon on the final day of the Abbleby Horse Fare

Left: This woman used her hooded jacket to shield her hair and make-up from the rain, while others (right) took the opportunity to dress up for the occasion. One young woman wore a bright red jacket and skirt and her friend wore sandals on the road while carrying her high heels in her hands

Riders were told they could not go into the River Eden, picture, which is almost 1.5 feet higher than its normal level


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