THOUSANDS of cheering spectators lined the streets of York as the Olympic torch relay made its way through the city.

Glorious sunshine added to the carnival atmosphere as one-by-one, the lucky few chosen to carry the flame made their way from York College in Tadcaster Road, along the Bar Walls, through the city centre and on to Knavesmire, where the flame was carried on horseback by Olympic showjumper Harvey Smith.

The torch arrived in York late yesterday afternoon and was escorted by a 200-strong team of cyclists, all dressed in red.

One of those to ride with the flame was Anna Hogan, 27, who said she and her fellow riders were “very excited.”

“We are proud to be British and proud to ride through York,” she said.

Caroline Rose, a spectator whose Bishopthorpe Road home was on the route of the torch said: “It’s very exciting. The atmosphere is brilliant and there has been perfect weather.”

Jean Haw, 75, from Fulford, whose husband Terry is due to run with the torch in Aiskew, near Bedale, today said: “I am here today to do some practise cheering. The atmosphere is wonderful.”

In the centre of York, hundreds gathered at the corner of Shambles and Pavement, many waving Union Flags, as a band played tunes such as Land Of Hope And Glory and Danny Boy outside St Crux Church. Some onlookers even climbed a nearby tree to secure a better view.

Glenn Marshall, 41, from Fulford, said: “It’s a massive day for York to be playing a part in the Olympics and it's great to see so many people out to see the torch.”

Naomi Cullen, 29, from Haxby, said: “Everybody who’s been here to see the torch will be able to tell their children about the day it came to York and show them the pictures years down the line.

“Seeing everybody cheering and smiling shows what the Olympics are about and how it means much more than sport.”

Susan Peters, 66, from Holgate, likened the occasion to the Pope’s visit to York in 1982 because of the feeling of “togetherness and happiness” in the city.

She said: “However far the torch goes around the country, I bet it will not get as big a welcome as it has had in Yorkshire.”

In Selby, fire-breathers and local choirs entertained the crowds, which included hundreds of schoolchildren as well as residents and local workers, ahead of the arrival of the torch procession.

Metropolitan Police outriders waved to the crowds and sponsors handed out drinks and flags to supporters, while official Olympic staff whipped up cheers and shouts from those gathered near the Abbey and in Gowthorpe.

After a brief stop at Selby High School, the procession moved along the A63 through Monk Fryston.