Cornet Gregor Hepburn says he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the amount of people crammed into Buccleuch Road on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old made a triumphant return back into Hawick after leading a hugely successful ride-out to Mosspaul, which was blessed with not only a rare, warm day for the pilgrimage to the hallowed spot – but also a happy band of visting principals, first-time riders and Junior Mosstroopers, as well as two packed sun-kissed picnic fields.
The Cornet said: “I was all set to get wet on Saturday but it was absolutely briliant. We could have got a soaking and it wouldn’t have bothered me, but the weather makes all the difference and everyone was in great spirits and the whole day went well.”
He added: “It coudn’t have gone any better.”
The 24-mile round trip began in fine style with townsfolk lining the streets to cheer the estimated 140 riders on their way, and at the notorious first field at Pilmuir, a large number of spectators watched a canny passage towards the Allan Water and onward.
The good cheer continued at Mosspaul where, in glorious sunshine, hundreds saw the riders piped into the hotel grounds; and the Mosstroopers committee ensured the traditional sing-song was another hit.
But for the man-of-the-moment, whose whole day was a huge highlight, the ride home – during which he squeezed in a last-minute route change at Northhouse to include a downhill gallop – was extra special. He added: “I don’t think I have ever seen as many people watching the horses come in. They were five-deep and it was amazing. I will never forget it.”
And the popular Big Four led an equally successful return journey on Tuesday, which was played out in similarly sunny conditions with around 74 riders enjoying another great day out – although a female walker suffered a broken leg on the hill near Phaup and was stretchered off.
But summing up both memorable days, a thrilled Acting Father Richie Lynn added: “Saturday was absolutely brilliant, and Tuesday, too. Everything from the weather, to the turnout, and crowds when we came back into Hawick and hearing the band, it was quite emotional.”