THE presence of travellers at Yellowcraig forced a late change of venue for Tuesday’s annual Edinburgh Taxi Outing for children.

The long-running event, in its 71st year, has traditionally ended at Yellowcraig, near Dirleton, but travellers moved in over the weekend which led to organisers to hastily search for an alternative venue.

The Courier understands that about 20 vehicles arrived at Yellowcraig over the weekend, gaining access by breaking the padlock of a gate usually used by the emergency services.

An appeal was made on social media for an alternative venue, which was spotted by Elly Douglas-Hamilton, chairwoman of Archerfield Estates.

Elly told the Courier: “I asked Ross McGregor, our director of operations at Archerfield Walled Garden, to get in touch with them and by the afternoon they were down setting up. We’ve got a field that they used and we were just really happy to help out and it looked like everyone had a great day.

“We’ve invited them back next year and if they want to use the field again we would be more than happy.

“I’d been to Yellowcraig over the weekend and noticed the travellers –it is a shame the taxis were not able to go through Dirleton because the school kids love it.”

Tom Shearer, head of communities and partnerships at East Lothian Council, said: “Police Scotland and East Lothian Council went to Yellowcraig on Monday morning in order to engage with the travellers and with a view to try and persuade them to move on, so that the event could proceed.

“During this time, we received a call letting us know that the event organiser had successfully secured a nearby alternative venue, Archerfield.”

A council spokesperson added: “There were around 20 vehicles at the location when we visited the site on Monday with the police encouraging the travellers to move on.

“If necessary, we will be taking the appropriate action to return the site to normal as quickly as possible.”

Keith Bell, one of the event’s organisers, confirmed the change of venue on social media. On Monday, he wrote: “We’ve been offered space from Archerfield Walled Garden, which is five minutes along the road from Yellowcraig, so I’ve spent the day down there arranging for everything that goes to Yellowcraig to be diverted to Archerfield.”

John Galloway, another of the organisers, said: “We would like to thank all the people who have helped make today possible in every way. From the people who supply us to to the people who support us in many ways, without you all it would not be possible.”

About 100 youngsters with additional support needs or long-term illnesses enjoyed the trip in taxis brightly decorated and covered in balloons.

The event has taken place each year on the second Tuesday in June for 71 years, with crowds turning out across the route. The procession of taxis began at Edinburgh Zoo, and made its way through the Capital, taking in Princes Street and the Scottish Parliament. After passing through Musselburgh and stopping at S Luca, they headed along the coast to Archerfield.