Tradition to take centre stage

Langholm Common Riding 2013.
Langholm Common Riding 2013.

Langholm’s age-old traditions take to the streets again on Friday July 31, as hundreds of exiles and visitors join townsfolk for the Muckle Toun’s annual Common Riding.

Langholm Cornet Jamie Fletcher was voted to lead this year’s Langholm Common Riding, beside his Right and Left-Hand Men, Ex-Cornets Dale Irving and Alasdair Cavers.

Common Riding Day begins at 5am as Langholm Flute Band gathers townspeople for the walk to Hillhead on the northern spur of Whita, before the hounds are slipped from Collins’ Turn at 6.30am. At 8.15am comes the Presentation of Hound Trail Cups at the Town Hall, followed at 8.30am by the Cornet mustering his supporters in the Market Place, and the Presentation of Town’s Standard. The Procession, led by the Town Band, moves up the High Street across Langholm Bridge to Buccleuch Square Pump, then Townfoot and back to the Market Place, accompanied by the Spade and the Bannock.

The First Fair Crying is held at 9am in the Market Place, before, at 9.10am, the Cornet leads his supporters up the Kirk Wynd to Whita Yett and Castle Craigs. At 10am children assemble with heather besoms at Mount Hooley for judging, and the whole procession reforms at 10.15am to march with the Town Band, Thistle and Crown from Townfoot Gardens to Mount Hooley. Langholm Pipe Band joins in the March to Townhead and back to the Market Place, for the Second Fair Crying at 11am.

The procession marches up the Kirk Wynd along Drove Road to the Kilngreen, and children with their heather besoms follow the Pipe Band across the Ewes Bridge to collect their 20 pences at the Lodge Gates. At 11.55am the sods are cut on the Kilngreen, as the Cornet, horseback supporters, Spade bearer and followers on foot wade across the Ewes and onto the Castleholm. Then at the Cornet’s Chase, the Cornet carrying the Standard is given a fair start pursued by his supporters.

Races begin on Castleholm at 12.30pm, followed by Highland dancing at 1pm and Athletic Games, Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling at 1.30pm. Later the Town Band plays for Dancing on the Castleholm at 7.15pm, before the Procession, led by the the Cornet, his Left and Right-Hand Men and emblems, reform at the Lodge Gates at 8.45pm. Halts are made for a polka, at the Kilngreen, The Crown Hotel, and Townfoot. The procession returns to the Market Place where the Cornet returns the Standard to the Officiating Magistrate, who thanks the Cornet.