7 walking festivals in the west

Date Posted: 16/01/2014

Climbing Out Of Mullion Cove  Photographer John Lacey

Pictured: Climbing out of Mullion Cove along the South West Coast Path. Photo credit: John Lacey.

Whether you’re a group of novice walkers or experienced hikers, the UK’s walking festivals are a great way to experience some of the country’s spectacular scenery. Here are seven of this year’s walking festivals in the west for groups to get involved with.

1. Lyme Regis Walking Festival: 8th - 16th February

Explore the coastline and hinterland of west Dorset and east Devon during Lyme Regis Walking Festival. Local residents share their favourite walks and organised events led by Lyme's resident guided walk experts will help groups explore the town's fascinating fossil, wildlife, history and literary secrets.

Several hotels, guest houses, and B&B’s are offering special rates to visitors during the festival period that include complimentary Walking Festival Support Packages, with a book of walks and a list of local traders who are keen to share their local knowledge and favourite walks.

2. Boscastle Walking Week: 28th March - 5th April

Group travel organisers heading to Boscastle Walking Week can join a local guide on a ramble around the area. Highlight sights include waterfalls and climbing Cornwall’s highest coastal cliff top.

You can also meander along the country lanes and pathways that would have been familiar to Thomas Hardy, who produced some his poetry on a visit to Boscastle in the past.

As well as walking, a range of events including cream teas and special ‘meal deals’ will be available. Booking for all walks is essential, and sturdy walking gear and personal insurance is recommended.

3. North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival: 26th April - 5th May

Starting in the Ilfracombe area, North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival, which has 41 guided walks to choose from, moves on to Lynton, Porlock and finally to Dunster over the May Day Bank Holiday. Each area kicks off with a welcome evening in a local pub to meet the guides.

White Nothe

Pictured: Walkers explore the white cliffs of White Nothe in Dorset.

Each walk can have a maximum of up to 15 people, and are divided into those under seven miles and those over seven miles to cater for all walking abilities.

Exmoor walks tend to be more challenging than those in the rolling countryside of north Devon, and coastal walks will also tend to be more strenuous because of the valleys dissecting the coastline. Prices vary for each walk.

4. South East Cornwall Walking Festival: 13th - 20th September

Groups opting for this week-long festival can explore south-east Cornwall on several routes. Highlights include seaside locations such as the historic fishing port of Polperro, rural hamlets, the Tamar Valley, and the edge of Bodmin Moor.

The walks are led by guides and range from gentle options of two miles to the more challenging seven-mile trek. All the leaders put on the walks for free but do ask for donations, which will go towards local charities or the project running the walk.

5. Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival: 20th - 28th September

Groups attending this walking festival can choose from up to 50 guided walks (including Nordic, for those who want to get fit) through Purbeck countryside and Dorset cliff tops. Suitable for all abilities, prices range from free for RSPB walks to £3.50 per person for other routes.

Direct booking is available on the website, and there are plenty of local accommodation options available if you wanted extend your stay into a group holiday.

6. Great South West Walk 2014: 20th - 28th September

Don’t miss the opportunity to help protect the coastline with the South West Coast Path Association’s second annual walking festival. The event aims to help raise funds for improvements along the National Trail.

The path itself it 630 miles long, and has been split into seven individual sections to help walkers. Starting at Minehead on Somerset's coast it runs along the Bristol Channel coastline of Exmoor, continuing along the coast of North Devon into Cornwall. It then follows the coastline of Devon, ending at Poole Harbour. Groups can pick and choose where to start their route and how far to walk.

Kynance Cove

Pictured: A group on the coast path at Kynance Cove in Cornwall. Photo credit: Luke Milsom.

7. Fal River Autumn Walking Festival: 17th October - 2nd November

This autumn walking festival comprises a collection of guided and self-guided walks for all abilities taking in areas from Falmouth to Truro, the Roseland to the Helford Passage.

Encompassing the very best of what the Fal River has to offer, the Fal River Autumn Walking Festival will encounter historical points of interest, meander along coast paths, and pass through areas of natural beauty and world heritage sites.

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