This custom dates back to the time when churches had earthen floors which were covered in rushes. Each year the old rushes were cleared out and new ones laid down. Of course, nowadays that isn’t necessary since church floors started to be flagged with stone by the 19th century. However, ‘Rushbearing’ processions are still held in several places in North West England, including Ambleside and Grasmere. Rushes are made into crosses and other designs, or carried as sprays by children. In Grasmere, six school girls are chosen to carry a linen sheet decorated with rushes. The procession through the town is led by the clergy and culminates in a service at the church.
Fell runningNo-one knows when this tradition started, but it was taking place at Grasmere Sports as early as 1850. Contestants run up a hillside to a flag at the top and then back down again. The winner is, of course, greeted with cheers and applause. Fell races take place in different parts of the Lake District. Borrowdale’s 17-mile race is probably one of the most challenging. Gramere’s race is part of the annual sports in the village, held every August. The runners set off from the sports field and climb to the top of Butter Cragand back, a distance of 1.5 miles to a height of about 900 feet. The fastest runner can complete the fell-run (and back again) in just over 12 minutes (makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it!).
Cumberland and Westmorland wrestlingThis style of wrestling is said to have evolved from the Viking invaders. The wrestlers begin by standing chest to chest, arms around each other, with their chin on the opponent’s right shoulder. When the umpire gives the signal to start, each tries to unbalance the other with various kinds of throws knows as ‘hipes’ or ‘buttocks.’ If any part of the wrestler touches the floor (apart from his feet), he loses. Wrestlers wear a traditional costume consisting of long johns, with trunks, and an embroidered vest.
Here's one or two Jolly Boys, all of one mind
We've come a Pace-Egging, and hope you'll prove kind
We hope you'll prove kind with your eggs and strong beer
And we'll come no more nigh you until next year.
A ‘gurn’ is a distorted facial expression, and ‘gurning’ contests are a rural English tradition, notably at the Egremont Crab Fair in the northern part of the Lake District where the World Championship takes place. Contestants frame their faces through a horse collar, known as ‘gurnin’ through a braffin’. Evidently, the best ‘gurners’ have no teeth, since this provides greater room to move the jaw upwards. The winner is the person who gets the loudest applause from the audience.