Friday, 16 August 2013

Post 3, Yorkshire Dales and Appleby Horse Fair

Sometimes it's difficult to bang the tether pins in deep enough because of rocky ground and the horses pull up their pins. Banana had got loose early in the morning and was wandering around the village green, dragging her chain, she hadn't been taken by aliens, but quite a good crop circle. 

Pen-y-ghent. This photo was taken at an altitude of 436 meters (1430ft) it's great being up high, but the weather can quickly change for the worse and there is very little firewood to burn, so I didn't hang around up here.
 I pulled down to Settle and did some shopping. People often ask me how I get my shopping, well I just go into a town and stop outside a shop or supermarket, just like anyone else. In theory I could get a supermarket to deliver my shopping by ordering it online, but I've never done it. I don't think it would be a problem though. I had just pulled onto this verge and tethered my horses, when some more people on the way to Appleby turned up. The horses all get excited, especially if there is a stallion, but they soon settle down.
29th May, 557 miles from Cornwall. The horses are all pegged out and enjoying the lush spring grass. The weather turned grey, wet and windy. I went to the coal merchant and bought a pail of coal for the stove and monged (begged) an old pallet, which I broke up with my sledge hammer, to use as kindling on the stove. I rested here for a couple of days and got on with painting some scrolls on the wagon and mended some harness. I also chatted to my new neighbours and sold one of them an old solar panel I no longer needed. When I'm stopped with other people it's always a good opportunity to chop or trade horses, harness or even the wagon.
My neighbours set off the next morning, a handy little cob pulling a nice trolly. I stopped a couple of days and did some tin smithing and made some items to sell. The horses had a good rest. I went up passed the famous Ribble Viaduct and almost up to the top of Newby Pass, then I turned left towards Dent. At Lea Yeat I turned right up the old coal road, this is a steep climb of  about a 1000 feet in a mile, and to an altitude of 1761 ft (537 meters). With 2 powerful cobs this is achieveable, with just one cob it would be a struggle. Before I  got to this hill the horses had already done about 15 miles. Once at the top of the hill it was only a couple of miles to the Moorcock Inn. I was glad to get there. Several other wagons were already there and the people were friendly and I tethered my horses in the field behind the pub. There is a real sense of achievement and elation when you have completed a tough journey or got up a bad hill. Only experience  guides you as to what your horses are capable of. It's only by testing yourself and your horses that you really find out what's possible. The hills I'd traversed over the last few days would be too extreme for most people. Many horses are not really fit and in hard enough condition, and it would be unfair to ask them to work so hard, but my horses are very fit.
2nd June, 584 miles,The Moorcock Inn, a nice friendly pub. 

The next day headed north east to Kirkby Stephen. This is stunning countryside and lovely travelling. Went on to Soulby, which is a nice friendly village. Several other wagons already there, I pulled on to some good grass. When the horses are working so hard they need good grass with plenty of clover. Some travellers tried to have a deal with me for Banana and Belle but they were unwilling to offer the money I wanted.
Yoking up the horses in the morning at Soulby.
Other wagons at Soulby.
Banana away (sold) looks a bit odd without her.

On the way into Appleby I sold Banana the Haflinger, for a mutually acceptable price. She had worked hard and done her best, but I cannot have too many horses and the whole reason for going to horse fairs is to trade horses. I had got her in February and had got her much better trained in that time, and did the best I could. Now she was away, it would be much easier for me. 

Going along the flash road to the fair.

On Wednesday 5th June I drove over to Appleby and then out to Brampton.The fair does not officially start until Thursday and you are not allowed to pull onto the fair until 4am in the morning. This seems an eccentric time of day to me and I have listened to travellers yoking up at 3:30am and cursing and queuing in traffic along the flash road, so they can get their favourite pitch. I'm much happier pulling in about 10am and taking my chances. 
Appleby is a good time to chat to old friends.
                 Tam                                        Jim                                            Jock
 Tarateeno and Jock grooming.
Appleby is a great place to see lots of wagons. 

The weather was perfect and Appleby was really good this year, very friendly and mellow I really enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones. Managed to sell some old harness and make a profit on it.
 There are cobs everywhere 

Ponies have to be tried.
By Monday many people have left.

A bit of rubbish and litter is left but within an hour most of it in this field had been cleared up. A lot of the rubbish is generated by market traders and day visitors to the fair who are not Gypsys or travellers, and the mess is comparable to any rock festival, motor rally etc. The media often likes to focus on litter at Appleby because it is advantageous for them to negatively stereotype Gypsys and travellers.