On your marks, get set .... duck! The Bibury Duck Race, 2012

One of the highlights of the year in Bibury is the annual Boxing Day Duck Race. In practice, this takes the form of two races: the first involves plastic decoy ducks, and the second the sort of yellow rubber ducks that you put in your bath. Well, perhaps not in your bath, but you know what I mean.
The river that flows through Bibury is the Coln, a typically fast flowing chalk stream. Yesterday, thanks to weeks of rain, the Coln was at its highest-ever recorded level, so the yellow rubber duck race was abandoned. There were fears that hundreds of little ducks would jam what space was left underneath the bridge, causing the river to overflow into the neighbouring cottages.
The local cricket club organises the race, and by 10.30am yesterday morning, there was a long queue to sponsor the decoy ducks. For £10, you had the chance of winning £100, or a bottle of champagne or whisky. The sponsor of the winning duck could also choose which charity would benefit from the money raised.

This is Terry, the local builder and a member of the cricket club committee. I haven't seen Terry play cricket but I can attest to his building skills, because he has just built a walkway connecting the two terraces at the back of my house. It's beautiful.

The little ducks were raffled instead of raced, much to the disappointment of the smaller children. They cost 50p, which is pretty good for a chance to win £100!

The duck race draws crowds from neighbouring areas as well as locals.

Setting up the net to catch the ducks at the finishing line.

While back at the start, the ducks were still being snapped up by punters.

On occasions like this, it helps to have friends in high places. Or in high balconies.

And they're off!

The real ducks were very confused by the race.  They'd gathered to watch what was going on but the minute the decoys came sailing down the river, they took to the air.

Nearly there! There was a clear winner, which was number 20.

At the finishing line the ducks are gathered up ....

... and put away until next year. They look like they're glad of the rest.
Merry Christmas, everyone!


  1. Once went to the International Pooh Sticks Championship in Oxfordshire. It was very cold and my imagination was not caught. Ducks . . . I like the idea of ducks a lot better than sticks. Sorry Christopher Robin. (And my husband who is always wanting us to go back!)

    Hope you have had a good Christmas in your new home, Victoria - and that there is a wonderful 2013 ahead of you.


    1. Really excellent view of the race, I wonder if we can put a link to it on the Bibury Cricket Club website please? Just to be pedantic you only need to spend 50p to win £100 as this is all the small ducks cost. A very warm welcome to Bibury, I have enjoyed reading your blogs from here.

      Steve Turner
      Secretary Bibury Cricket Club

    2. Steve, I'd be delighted! Glad you like the blog - I've now amended it to make it clear the little ducks cost 50p instead of £10.

  2. Relieved to see the plastic ducks are rounded up. Wonder if any escape to the sea?

    1. Diana, I don't think any of them would want to go to sea at the moment. It's pouring with rain here, with a nasty blustery wind.

    2. In our early days escape was quite common but after 25 years we've almost got it right!

  3. That looks like great fun. Did you have lucky number 20? I hope so.

    1. Layanee, unfortunately, I had unlucky number 16. Still, there's always next year...

  4. Looks like it was a lot of fun and the perfect thing for Boxing Day!

    Those waders and setting up the stop net remind me of the research I carried out further downstream on the Coln. Happy days :)

  5. VP - but not the weather, I trust! You and Helen Yemm must get together here and relive your research days

    1. Luckily my research was conducted in the idyllic kind of summer weather which we seem to be only able to dream about these days.

      I was wondering how long it would be before your blog was discovered locally. The answer is - not long at all ;)

  6. What a great idea! Hope you are all settled and snug in the new house.

  7. This reminds me of the Hebden Bridge duck race. However there they only do the yellow ducks, nothing as sophisticated as the decoys. I wont post a link to the Hebden race in case blogger block it, but if you are interested have a look at the crowds there....

  8. Fond memories of my visit to Bibury in October, wish I knew about your duck race, would have purchased a ticket. My little town here in Australia holds a yearly Duck Race, love the idea of using decoys, having so much trouble sourcing bath ducks to match the ones we already have.


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