Thousands of travellers arrive for Appleby Horse Fair as historic festival returns

Thousands of travellers arrive for Appleby Horse Fair as historic festival returns

Ahead of the start of the Appleby Horse Fair on Thursday, the Gyspy, Roma and Travelling community have come together at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria with visitors cooling off with their horses in rivers

Travellers are arriving for the start of the historic Appleby Horse Fair with around 30,000 expected to attend the annual spectacle.

The event at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, returns after Covid-19 cancelled the 2020 celebrations.

Visitors from the Gyspy, Roma and Travelling community have been making their way to the 250-year-old gathering.

The event often attracts thousands of visitors, with 10,000 caravans dotted around the town.

People were seen riding their horses through the rivers to cool off as they made their way to the fair.

Organisers helped arrange for pop-up clinics to being made available for those who have not yet been vaccinated.

Appleby originated in the 1770s as cattle and horse dealers got together to sell their livestock.

The event usually last seven days, with most of the celebrations taking place over the weekend.

It is one of Europe’s largest gatherings for members of the travelling communities

The celebrations come as the RSCPA issued a warning.

“As part of usual pre-fair preparations, a multi-agency effort has been taking place to clear the river and the river bed of any otherwise unseen obstructions or matter which could potentially cause injuries to people or horses,” they said.

“As part of that work, exposed steel bars have been discovered beneath the surface which were once part of reinforced concrete.

“Despite repeated efforts, the obstructions cannot be removed.

“As such, the section of the river where the steel bars are located has been cordoned off with tape and cones. The tape and cones will remain in situ for the duration of the fair.

“People are urged to stay outside of this area as there is otherwise a significant risk of injury.

“People are also reminded that, while efforts are made to remove hazards from the water, those who choose to enter the water do so entirely at their own risk.”

A plea has been issued to motorists to slow down in the area.

A video of drivers has been shared shows vehicles not slowing down as they pass horses.

Les Clark, deputy chief executive of Eden District Council, said it was the right that the gathering should go ahead.

“We could either wrap around that support, like we normally do, or we let things happen unplanned and ad hoc, which would be very difficult to control,” he said.

The event is expected to end on Wednesday night.