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Common Riding, Galashiels © Robin Simpson

June 28 – Maybe I'm A-mazed
The Common Riding, Galashiels

The trip back to Galashiels to reclaim our laundry is painless, a straight shot once we pick up the A7, only a mile or so from Crichton.

Traffic is surprisingly heavy as we near the town and there are highway cones set up down the center of the road. We ease into town, noticing that all of the residents are lining the streets, waiting for something; we have no idea what.

From around a bend appears a wall of horses coming straight at us. Robin pulls over and we sit in awe as hundreds of riders of all ages ride by on horses of all sizes. Clad in equestrian riding gear they trot along on ponies, draft horses, and stallions so high that we can barely see the tops of the riders' hats as they pass by.

This is the Common Riding, an annual event held in many border towns, which is the survival of the old practice of riding the town's boundaries to preserve burgh rights and to prevent encroachment by neighboring landlords. Long after they ceased to be essential, they continued in commemoration of local legend, history and tradition.

After the riders have passed, we drive up the road and around the corner, exclaiming at our good fortune of having witnessed this piece of history that has been kept alive through the centuries. Pulling into the car park we rush into Bubbles, and pay our bill, which is just over £12 for two huge loads. We're then off to Melrose, just a short distance away.

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