Euromillions can’t outweigh the love of the Muckle Toon for Cornet Lee

Langholm common riding 2011. Fair crying in the Market Place.
Langholm common riding 2011. Fair crying in the Market Place.

THERE is something quite enchanting and endearing about Langholm Common Riding that puts it on a different level from our other common ridings, gatherings and festivals.

It has a timetable but you seldom if ever notice it. It flows as sweetly as the Ewes on whose banks the Muckle Toon o’ the Langholm stands.

Langholm common riding 2011. Crossing the Ewes Water.

Langholm common riding 2011. Crossing the Ewes Water.

Langholm of course is a geographical Border town although it sits in the local authority area of Dumfries and Galloway. And on Common Riding morning Borderers frae a’ the airts head for this magical gem where there is a welcome on every beaming local face and in every firm and embracing handshake.

And how the people of this burgh enjoy their Common Riding! It is a Common Riding for every age group – no generation is missed out.

And if ever assurance was needed that Langholm and its people cherish the history, the tradition, the commemorations and the celebrations that are part of the Common Riding than began more than 250 years ago, it came as dusk approached on Friday when Cornet Lee Earsman returned the Burgh Banner to chairman Roger Maxwell.

In a passionate address to massive crowd outside the Town Hall he reflected on what it meant to be Cornet and enthused: “If I won Euromillions tonight they could keep it. I’d rather have this!”

The 32-year fencer with Buccleuch Estates had proudly carried out his duties with dignity and good cheer, ably assisted by his Right and Lefthand Men, Graeme Murray and Derek Hogg.

Also in the cavalcade were jubilee and semi-jubilee Cornets Ian McVittie and Iain Park.

Friday may have been Common Riding Day, but it was the culmination of much activity. There had been dinners and presentations and the various rideouts.

Cornet Earsman had a scare on the Monday during the first practice gallop up the Kirk Wynd when his mare, Marissa, veered off the track and crashed to the ground at the church, unceremoniously dumping the rider.

But on the great day itself, there was no hitch and the gallop up this narrow, crowd-lined wynd was spectacular.

In fact the entire day was spectacular. How could it be otherwise – this was Langholm.

The Fair’s had been Cried, the all-important Sods had been cut, the Ewes had been crossed on horseback and foot, the children had paraded with their Heather Besoms from Mount Hooley and the cherished emblems – the Spade, the Barley Banna, the Crown and the giant Thistle – had danced along well-worn streets to well-worn but much-loved tunes. Oh, how the Langholm bands – flute, pipe and brass – enjoy this great time.

We tasted the sauted herrin’ we supped the ale, we savoured the sun-drenched games at the Castleholm and we danced the Langholm Polka.

Pure magic.

•Common Riding and flapping reports on pages 25 and 27