At this time of year we have numerous horse drawn caravans and their supporting vehicles camped on our village green. From late April till June they make their way slowly to Appleby In Westmoreland (yes it is always referred to as Westmoreland even though it’s been part of Cumbria since 1974) for the annual Horse Fair. The Fair has existed since 1685 when King James II granted a charter permitting a fair ‘near the river Eden’. At one point last week there were 15 horses tethered on and around the green. Driving at this time of year is also hazardous as you suddenly hit a long stream of traffic going at 2 miles an hour as they try to pass one of these caravans. The owners do not sit and drive them but tend to lead the horses that are pulling them – it’s a long way to walk to Cumbria. It doesn’t always end in a good time though as the following picture from the Cumberland News shows.

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They look lovely but they tend not to be solo, as I said they have their support vehicles which can include horse boxes, large vans, cars and of course ordinary caravans. These aren’t allowed to camp on the green but they do pull up by the side of the road. It isn’t for long and they do look picturesque. It seems in most cases to be a whole family occasion and one yesterday not only had the dogs with them but a large African Grey Parrot in a splendid ornate cage! Whether these are ‘real gypsies’ or Irish travellers, doesn’t really matter, they all seem to be having a great time – I think it’s a sort of annual holiday. All along the A65 will be caravans and horses tethered – and the Fair at Appleby is a sight to be seen, hundreds of horses are bought and sold, trotting races along the roads and horses swimming in the river.

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