This afternoon we headed down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace to watch the culmination of the Riding of the Marches.
Involving some 250 riders on horseback, this event commemorates the historic inspection of Edinburgh’s boundaries, or “marches”, which dates back to at least 1579 and probably earlier.
The Common Ridings of the Borders are more famous, however the Riding of the Marches in Edinburgh was resurrected in 2009 for the Year of the Homecoming after a 63 year break and has continued each year since then.
The riders started out early this morning from the southern edge of Edinburgh on Old Dalkeith Road and their route took them across fields on the way to Craigmillar Castle, then through Holyrood Park to Holyrood Palace. Which is where we caught our first glimpse of the riders.
They were led by the Principal Riders – Captain Stuart Nicoll, Edinburgh Lass Karrie McGill, 1st Officer Stuart Mitchell and 2nd Officer John Baxter.
They were followed by a long procession of hundreds of riders and horses both from Edinburgh and from towns across Scotland.
The riders started to make their way up the Royal Mile, so we gave chase!
I couldn’t resist stopping outside The Whitehorse Bar for a potentially perfect photo opportunity, however despite my waiting unfortunately no white horses passed by.
The procession crossed the meeting point of the North and South Bridges and continued up the High Street, stopping from time to time to allow the riders further back to catch up.
The lead riders then turned in towards Parliament Square.
Meanwhile the horses and riders kept on coming up the hill.
A select few gathered around the mercat cross, from where the Lord Provost of Edinburgh gave a speech.
The rest of the riders waited on the High Street, listening from a distance.
Overseeing the proceedings was the unicorn atop the mercat cross.
After the speech, and a minute’s silence to remember the great and the good of Scotland who died at the Battle of Flodden 500 years ago, the riders reassembled on the High Street, ready to progress further up the Royal Mile.
While the main body of riders readied themselves, the Principal Riders rode around the back of St Giles’ Cathedral from the mercat cross to retake their place at the head of the procession.
With the Principal Riders back at the front, the procession continued.
At this point the riders continued further up the Royal Mile and onto the Lawnmarket heading towards Edinburgh Castle, before turning off down Johnston Terrace on their way to the Grassmarket.
Rather than try to keep up with the horses, we took a shortcut down the ever picturesque Victoria Street.
We arrived at the west end of the Grassmarket just in time to see the riders coming down the West Port and turning into King’s Stables Road.
King’s Stables Road is rather appropriately where the procession ends, and from there we also made our way back home.