THOUSANDS of people will descend on an Eden market town this weekend for one of the largest gatherings of gypsies and travellers in the world.

The annual Appleby Horse Fair, which dates back hundreds of years, officially runs from Thursday to Wednesday but many made their way to the town early.

Several pubs, hotel bars and clubs will be closed for the event however many will remain open.

This year's Appleby Horse Fair has already had the added excitement of suspected ordnance being discovered in the River Eden. Agents from the RSPCA alerted the police after they found what turned out to be an inert training round while they were inspecting the river on Tuesday.

The RSPCA does this to make sure there are no dangers for the horses when they are ridden into the river to bathe. Police said the bridge leading to The Sands, which had been cordoned off, had reopened.

Andy Connell, the Appleby and Brough district councillor, said: "There is already a lot of police around. Highways have got various road closures and diversions which will come into force. 

"There will be far more people than residents. The figures will be quoted but will be made up."

Cllr Connell said this because it is impossible to tell exactly how many travellers visit the town each year. 

He continued: "For local residents, their lives within the centre of town will change quite drastically as there is nowhere to shop. Residential areas are very largely unaffected.

"People claim to speak for the nature of the town - they project their own feelings. Some people clearly aren't happy about things like not being able to go where they normally go with their cars. Some people find it very troubling others are used to it, it's something that happens."

READ MORE: Travellers on way to Appleby threaten elderly inn-keeper