Berwick’s Riding of the Bounds

Berwick-upon-Tweed Riding of the Bounds Chief Marshal for 2019 is Courtnay Grey seen with  Polly.   Picture by Jane Coltman
Berwick-upon-Tweed Riding of the Bounds Chief Marshal for 2019 is Courtnay Grey seen with Polly. Picture by Jane Coltman

Around 100 horses and riders are expected to take part in the 410th staging of Berwick’s Riding of the Bounds.

Chief marshal Courtnay Grey will lead the way alongside Right Hand Man Victoria Irwin, though Left Hand Man Rebecca Tait will be missing because she is pregnant.

“It’s so exciting,” said Courtnay. “I can’t wait for our ride and then the rest of the summer.”

The 25-year-old mum-of-three plans to take part in ten common ridings across the Borders including Yetholm, Kelso, Coldstream and Duns, as well as Edinburgh’s Riding of the Marches.

“Berwick’s the first rideout of the season and it’s become much better known across the region,” said Courtnay. “It’s much smaller than the Borders ones but we are growing and last year the street was heaving. The atmosphere was fantastic.”

Berwick Riders Association, which organises the event, anticipates there could be 100 horses and riders turning out on May 4 - the most since the 400th staging of the event.

“It depends on the weather and the ground conditions but there’s no doubt the move to holding it on a Saturday has made a big difference,” said Courtnay.

Until 2017, the 15-mile patrol around the town’s ancient boundaries was always held on May 1.

Courtnay, from Highcliffe in Spittal, fell in love with horses at an early age despite having no family links to it.

“I started doing the Riding of the Bounds when I was 12 and have done it every year apart from when I was having babies!”

Her children Oden, six, Jaxon, four and Iva, one, will be watching from the sidelines on the big day while her partner, Liam, will be part of the cavalcade having taken up riding two years ago.

Courtnay has decided not to ride either of her horses, Jess and Polly, at this year’s event. Instead, she is hiring a horse called Paris from Saint Foin Riding Stables in Birgham.

“Hiring for the day actually makes it ten times easier,” said Courtnay. “He’s also very experienced so it will be great,” she adds.

“I’m particularly pleased that more of the route is off-road this year.”

The main sponsor is Simpsons Malt. Meanwhile, local shops and businesses are being encouraged to take part in the window dressing competition.

Participants are asked to decorate their windows a week or so before the Riding of the Bounds and leave it up until after the ride.

They can decorate it however they like as long as it promotes are historical ride in some way, either with a horse theme and/or with our Berwick colours of red and royal blue.

Last year Vintage upon Tweed took the trophy.

Register your business either by email to berwickbounds@yahoo.co.uk or via the Berwick Riders Association facebook page. Judging will take place on Sunday, April 28.

‘It’s so exciting. I can’t wait for our ride and then the rest of the summer’

The 410th Riding of the Bounds takes place on Saturday, May 4. (timings are approximate).

10am – Riders to assemble behind the chief marshal and proceed to the Barracks Square.

10.30am – Cavalcade will leave the Barracks and proceed to the Guildhall via Walkergate.

10.45am – The chief marshal will arrive at the Guildhall to seek permission from the mayor to ride the boundaries.

11am – Cavalcade leaves the Guildhall.

11.30am – Riders arrive at the Jingling Bridge.

1.45pm – Riders arrive at Gainslaw Farm. The optional gallop around the Point will take place immediately weather permitting, these riders will arrive at Gainslaw Farm at approximately 2pm. Gallop can be viewed from Canty’s Bridge.

2.30pm – Trotting races

3.15pm – Calvalcade will depart Gainslaw Farm.

4pm – Cavalcade arrives at The Guildhall. Chief marshal will report to the mayor and return the flag.

Chief marshal Courtnay Grey with her horses Jess and Polly at the Berwick and Borders Horse Livery and Stables at Murton.