THOUSANDS of gypsies and travellers descended on Appleby for the town's annual horse fair.

People from across Europe made their way to the town as the event began, many of them in traditional horsedrawn bow-top caravans.

Traffic built up early last Thursday morning along the A66 with fair-goers keen to get on the Fair Hill camping ground.

Organisers, working with police, made the decision to open the gates on Fair Hill early after the A66 became blocked with horse-drawn trailers.

More than 10,000 people were expected to gather for the long weekend, many there to watch the spectacles of horses being washed in the River Eden, and horsedrawn buggies trotting up and down The Sands.

Following heavy rainfall, ramp access to the river had to be closed to Gypsies and Travellers all day Saturday on safety grounds. However, it reopened on Sunday afternoon as water levels dropped. Matthew Neal, chairman of the event's Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group, thanked everyone for their patience.

Meanwhile, Cumbria Police launched a witness appeal after a woman was grabbed by a man while walking near Fair Hill just after midnight on Saturday. Police believe a passing car may have "spooked" the suspect, causing him to flee.

For more pictures and coverage of the fair, see this week's Westmorland Gazette.