Step into walking festival for health and pleasure

Morpeth Walking Festival leaders gather in Carlisle Park for their final briefing.
Morpeth Walking Festival leaders gather in Carlisle Park for their final briefing.
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RAMBLERS will be out in force this weekend as the tenth Morpeth Walking Festival takes place.

Since it started, the festival has encouraged hundreds of people to try out walking and this year is likely to be no exception, with various routes to choose from, ranging from four to nine miles long.

The six trails on offer are graded from ‘easy’ to ‘moderately difficult’, but all will be supervised by experienced walk leaders.

Mitford and Beyond is a 6.4-mile walk along the valley, while Morpeth’s Railway History four-mile trail will visit local railway sites to learn about notorious characters and accidents.

String of Pearls is a nine-mile walk along the River Wansbeck from the coast to Morpeth, the four-mile Longhorsley Round will take in the former home of Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, a deserted church and camels, kangaroos and lamas, and the Rothley Round is a six-mile walk around Rothley Lakes, the old railway station, Codger Fort and Rothley Castle.

Finally, the William Turner Walk covers four miles around Morpeth Common and How Gill, visiting sites associated with the famous herbalist.

The festival is organised by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) in partnership with Morpeth Footpaths Society and David Barker, of Heritage Walks.

GMDT Chief Executive David Lodge said: “The annual walking festival has been going strong for ten years and we are keen to keep it going forward, and it can only do so by people supporting it.

“The volunteer support we get from members of the footpaths society and David Barker enable us to deliver the festival at low-cost, keeping prices well down below those of some other walking festivals across Northumberland and providing excellent value for money for the walkers who take part.”

GMDT has delivered a number of environmental projects, such as improving pathways and access to the countryside around Morpeth and installing signage and interpretation boards, to help residents have a better understanding of the industrial and natural heritage of the area.

It is hoped that the walking festival will contribute to that work and encourage more people to get out and explore.

Organisers say that walking not only offers the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Northumberland countryside by foot, but it also has health benefits, particularly for those who step out regularly.

Walking groups also say that members enjoy the social companionship of rambling together.

Morpeth Footpaths Society is now in its 40th year and has some 80 members. It organises a monthly Sunday walk in the county, anywhere from the Tyne Valley to the Cheviots and the Northumberland coast.

Mr Barker leads heritage walks every Thursday, setting off from Elliott Bridge at 12.30pm. Sometimes more than 40 people join the trail and anyone is welcome to take part.

The walking festival runs from tomorrow (Friday) to Sunday. Anyone taking part is advised to wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Details of all the walks can be found in a booklet available from Morpeth Town Hall, Morpeth Library, The Chantry or GMDT at The Lodge in Carlisle Park.

Alternatively, call 01670 503866, or visit www.gmdt.net