Want to walk in Europe this year, but don’t want to organise it yourself or spend big bucks on a guiding company? Try joining a walking festival.
There’s been an encouraging surge in interest in my report on last year’s West Cork Walking Festival, so I thought I’d go for a tramp around cyberspace to see what’s on offer for 2010.
Walking festivals are a brilliant idea – locals get together to organise walks for a few days, set up some routes to showcase the best hikes in their area, ranging from easy strolls to challenging adventures, engage knowledgeable guides, charge a modest fee to cover costs, post details on a website and see who turns up.
West Cork attracted groups of 25-50 for each event, a good number, I thought – enough for everyone to meet a few people, but not so many that it was ever overwhelming. I arrived on my own and left having made some friends I’m still in contact with. Thanks to the guides I learned a lot about the area’s history and characters and thanks to the craik in the Irish pubs at the end of each day, a foine toim was had indeed.
These are some festivals I found coming up:
May 1-8 Caithness and Sutherland (Scottish Highlands)
May 7-13 Newton-Stewart Walking Festival (Galloway Hills, Southern Scotland.)
May 22-June 6 Lincolnshire Wolds (Lincolnshire, England)
June 25-27. Mourne International Walking Festival. (County Down, Northern Ireland).
July 1-4 Castlebar Walking Festival (Ireland’s wild west)
Tuscany is advertising the Tuscan Coast and Islands Walking Festival from April 2 – October 10. That’s a long time to stay festive, but there’s a lot to see under the Tuscan sun. www.tuscanywalkingfestival.it
If you can add interesting festivals to this short list, please let me know about them in the comments box below.
Finally a word of warning. On the web I found publicity for some ‘festivals’ which were being run by commercial tour guiding companies. I have no reason to think they’re not interesting and good value, but they were considerably more expensive than walking festivals run by local volunteers.