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Ashbourne has crazy traditions

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

21/07/13 Ashbourne Highland Gathering - Rec, Ashbourne Ashbourne Highland Gathering 2013 - Llama Racing

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For such a small town tucked away in the Derbyshire Dales Ashbourne certainly has more than its fair share of crazy traditions, daredevil stunts and wonderful shows.

We’ve just experienced the first of the year, with the Mappleton bridge jump.

It’s hard to understand how on earth such a crazy idea was ever conceived, but Ann Smith, one of the founders, does her best to explain in our special 4 page feature.

There’s obviously a huge thrill when leaping 30ft off a bridge into the freezing cold river, because teams sign up year after year to have a go.

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Shrovetide is next on the town’s calendar, an event anticipated the whole year long which attracts crowds from all over the UK.

Two days of absolute chaos ensues as an enormous human mass tries to move the beautifully painted football from one end of the Henmore to the other, in an attempt to score their team a goal.

A month or so after this the town gears up for two weeks of street entertainment and shows, with the Ashbourne festival.

The last couple of years have seen fire-eaters, crazy acrobats, weird and wonderful wildlife beasts and who could forget the two parking wardens entertaining everyone with their running commentaries?

In the summer tourists are generally quite confused when they find themselves in the middle of a Highland Gathering, together with marching pipe bands, caber tossing and haggis baps instead of the usual hog roast found at most county shows.

Then, of course, to end the year you have the Dovedale dash, although sadly this had to be cancelled last year when the car-park was flooded.

Usually though the 1,500 or so participants make a mad dash down Thorpe Cloud, through the river Dove and cross country along the banks.

There’s always plenty of mud, even if the runners have to break the ice to reach it!

It’s true that you don’t have to be mad to live here, but it certainly helps.

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