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HUNDREDS of people joined Lord Cornet-Elect Stuart Wilson on Monday evening for the annual Perambulation of the Marches.

I joined the huge crowd as they began to congregate in Hope Street as Stuart, Raul Mascarenhas and other Lord Cornets began to set off.

I had three hopes for the evening; I hoped that it would stay dry, it wouldn’t be too cold and I wouldn’t be eaten alive by midges on the journey around the March stones.

Alas, I realise that is outwith the control of Millar Stoddart and the rest of the Lanimer Committee.

Setting off it was clear to everyone that this was a bigger crowd than usual and there were plenty of families and their dogs who came along for the evening.

I even heard a few clinks of bottles in bags as people made their way down the hill.

Coming down to the first March stone the crowd were in a jovial mood and after that first inspection the traditional birches were handed out.

A special mention should also go to members of Lanark Rugby Club who helped steward the Marches.

Walking to the next stone, I had a quick chat with Lord Cornet of 1989 Bill Tennant who told me about his year as Lord Cornet.

Bill said: “There is a massive crowd here tonight and it’s great to see so many families here. I think the fact that it’s a bank holiday has made a big difference.

“The Marches is a big part of the history of Lanark and I’m sure Stuart will really enjoy himself tonight.

“From my experience it was one of the best weeks of my life and this evening in particular will be very special for Stuart.”

As I walked to the next stone the weather brightened up and the swarm of midges that had followed me seemed to disappear.

Arriving at the stone situated at the Hannah family home I grabbed a quick word with 1999 Lord Cornet Lindsay Craig.

He said: “Lanimer Week is always special but for any Lord Cornet tonight is the big night.

“Thursday is really about the Lanimer Queen and her court but tonight is the big night for the Lord Cornet-Elect.

“I’ve no doubt it will be an emotional night for Stuart. Thinking back to when I was Lord Cornet it was a fantastic feeling coming down the High Street and seeing the huge crowd of people.

“It’s been a great night so far and I’m sure it’s only going to get better.”

As people were enjoying a few drams I couldn’t help but feeling a wee bit envious about having to drive back home – especially as the smell of a beautiful single malt came wafting up my nose.

By this time I was in the company of former Lanimer Committee chairman and 2002 Lord Cornet David Strachan.

He said: “Being Lanimer Committee chairman for the past three years my Lanimers is normally pretty hectic so I am looking forward to a bit more of a relaxing Lanimer Week this time around.

“It’s a great week and it certainly brings out the whole family which is great to see.”

As I made my way down to the River Mouse I was filled with a bit of trepidation as I didn’t fancy being thrown into the river and walking back to my car blacker than two in the morning.

Thankfully I made it past that obstacle and made the long walk home.

My conclusion? You can love Lanimers or hate Lanimers but surely no-one can deny it bings out a real community spirit that Lanark has which is sadly lacking in other towns up and down the country.