TRAVELLERS at Appleby Horse Fair say they may be forced to leave early after a deluge of rain turned the weekend into a washout.

The flashing lane was quiet and people were huddled in doorways and shops this afternoon, with the heavy downpour set to remain until the end of tomorrow.

“It was beautiful yesterday but the rain today has ruined it for me,” said Bob Jacks, 28, who was visiting the fair from Newcastle.

“I want to go home if I’m honest. I’m supposed to be here until Tuesday but we’ll see. I don’t think I will be if it carries on like this!”

Friend, Billy Randy, 52, agreed: “It’s just been awful weather today. It’s a shame because we love coming to Appleby.”

Queues of traffic built up as hundreds of people made their getaway from the site on Fair Hill this afternoon.

The fair began on Thursday and is not set to end until Wednesday.

The river - usually busy with people washing their horses - was quiet, while the ‘flashing lane’ was seeing little action.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said nobody was being stopped from going in the river.

“It’s just so cold nobody would want to,” she added.

This afternoon Cumbria Police have issued a warning to those attending the fair be aware of ‘slippy conditions’.

Superintendent Sean Robinson said: “We appeal to the horse community to reduce their speed, stop gradually and not to overtake lines of traffic.

“This is all aimed at their own safety, their passengers and that of pedestrians and other roads users.

“Low speeds should be used by all vehicles in Appleby.

“It is raining today, which can lead to hazardous road conditions. Please reduce your speed in any car, van, when on a horse or driving a carriage.

“Pedestrians are requested to stay on walkways and listen out for horse hooves approaching. They should be careful when crossing the road and not take any unnecessary risks.”

Warnings have also been issued by the RSPCA, who say they have seen several horses being ‘over ridden’ this year.

“For the last few years, this is something that became unusual to see, however there has been an increase this year,” said RSPCA Chief Inspector Rob Melloy.

“Our officers will be taking robust action against anyone who is seen to override a horse. “We also continue to appeal to people not to bring dogs to the fair. It is cloudier today but still warm. The temperature in cars rises quickly, causing heatstroke and death. Just leave your dog at home.”

Today four arrests have been made, including two for public order offences, one for a drugs offence and one for common assault.

It follows five arrests yesterday, of one assault, two for possession of controlled drugs and two for being drunk and disorderly.

Robert Harrison, 42, from Co Kildare, said he thought most people were ‘just having a good time’.

“It’s always good even when it’s raining. It’s not stopped us having fun.”