Travellers converge for historic Appleby Horse Fair

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The traditional bathing of the horses before auction at the Appleby Horse Fair.
The traditional bathing of the horses before auction at the Appleby Horse Fair.

Members of the gypsy and traveller community are starting to converge on Appleby, Cumbria, for the town’s historic annual horse fair, with police warning motorists to be careful on the road.

Police in Cumbria are encouraging motorists to take care on the A685 between Kirkby Stephen and Brough as the road has become congested in the build up to this year’s fair.

Police said they had received reports from motorists concerned about the risk to the gypsy and traveller community from setting up a temporary camp next to the busy A685.

Caravans, bow tops and tethered horses are lined up along the road and the police said they would like everyone to take extreme care.

Police urged gypsies and travellers heading for the fair to avoid the area and seek alternative options before the road became overcrowded, increasing the potential of a serious accident.

“We ask that both motorists and members of the gypsy and traveller community take responsibility on that particular stretch of road,” Sergeant John Chambers said.

“We are concerned that the number of caravans and tethered horses lined up along the road may become unmanageable and ask those that are travelling to the fair seek alternative encampments.

“At this time of year there is an increased tolerance towards encampments whilst the area receives an estimated 1400-2000 caravans.

“To ensure the event is safe and enjoyable, a number of roadside restrictions are implemented by the County Highways team. It is vital that those travelling to the fair realise the field does not open until 4am on Thursday, June 5.

“We hope that this advice is taken on board by both motorists and members of the gypsy and traveller community in the interests of road safety. By working together we can help to make improvements for future years and generations visiting the fair.”

This year’s fair runs from June 5-11. It can attract up to 40,000 people to the area annually.

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