Programmes for the 17th staging of the hugely popular Isle of Wight Walking Festival are now available at locations across the Island – as well as online at www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk.
Full details of the 200-plus walks, together with a lot of other useful information and tips, can be found in the programme, which is available at council help centres, libraries and a range of other locations.
The festival, which runs from 2nd to 17th May, features the usual packed menu of walks and walking-related events, from alpaca and zombie walks to the new Isle of Wight Workplace Challenge, which will be launched at the festival.
The event is organised by the Isle of Wight Council Events Team, and sponsored by the council, Visit Isle of Wight, Red Funnel and Wightlink.
As well as key information on the location and dates of all the walks, the programme also features important notes for walkers on issues such as parking, taking dogs and ability levels.
The festival gets underway on Saturday 2 May and among the opening weekend highlights are plenty of family activities, including fossil hunting guided walks at Brook and Yaverland; storytelling walks and treasure hunts in Northwood Park, Cowes and Appley Park, Ryde; and group alpaca walks at Cowes from Red Funnel terminal to Northwood House, and at Ryde from the Wightlink terminal to Appley Park.
The fortnight features an incredibly diverse range of walks, from ghost and history walks to beach and bug walks – with many routes taking in scenic areas of the Island’s coast and countryside.
New to the 2015 festival is the Isle of Wight Workplace Walking Challenge, with all Isle of Wight businesses, big and small, encouraged to compete. The event, organised by the council’s Public Health Team, Events Team and the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce and Industry, challenges participants to increase their daily number of steps over an eight week period from 4 May to 28 June. The winning team, which has the biggest percentage increase in their weekly steps, will receive a pair of Hi-tec walking boots for each of the five team members and an annual One Card silver membership for use at the council’s leisure centres and facilities.
To register a team for the event, which has a launch event at Northwood Park, Cowes on Saturday 2 May, you should email: [email protected]
Another highlight will be the Isle of Wight Challenge with Action Challenge, an event to walk, jog or run on the Island’s stunning 105 kilometre coastal footpath. Designed as a test of stamina, for participants to tackle at their own pace, it will include ‘full Island, ‘half Island’ or ‘quarter Island’ distances, and people can take part as individuals or in teams. The challenge is on the opening weekend of 2 and 3 May and starts at Cowes. For full details (including registering and the registration fee) please visit www.isleofwightchallenge.com
Also testing people’s stamina during the festival is the non-stop Round the Island Walk on Saturday 16 May, taking in 72 miles in 24 hours – and between 15 and 17 May is the Beaches, Bars and Blisters Coastal Walk, a three day walk taking in the coast from East Cowes to Ventnor, Ventnor to Totland Pier, and Totland Pier to Cowes.
Isle of Wight Council Executive member for economy and tourism, Councillor Shirley Smart, said:
“The walking festival is one of the highlights on the Island’s events calendar, and this year it once again features many innovative, exciting and challenging walks. As well as inspiring many Island residents, it attracts many walkers to the Island from the mainland and overseas and gives a terrific boost to tourism and the economy.
“I would particularly like to congratulate the council’s Events Team for the time and effort they put in to planning and bringing the festival to fruition – and of course the sponsors and many partners and supporters of the event.”