A day-long Pennine Journey will mark the start of the event
Hundreds of pairs of feet will follow in the footsteps of a fell walking legend when the first North Pennines Walking Festival takes place this autumn.
The event, which draws inspiration from the stunning landscape of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, runs from September 28 to October 6 and begins with a celebration of the 75th anniversary of Alfred Wainwright’s local odyssey.
Following in Wainwright’s footsteps
Wainwright took 18 days to complete his epic Pennine Journey but to launch the festival the whole 247 miles will be completed in just one day by several groups of walkers.
Ian Forbes, Chair of the Friends of the North Pennines charity which has organised the festival alongside other partners including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, said: “It’s going to be an amazing start to what we hope will become a popular annual event. We wanted to create something where we could make the most of this stunning landscape and what better way to start things than by paying tribute to one of the most respected walkers of all time?”
50 walks in nine days
Including Wainwrights Pennine Journey there are 50 walks during the nine-day festival, as well as a programme of accompanying events and talks.
Walks are situated throughout the whole of the North Pennines from Baldersdale to Bowlees and Rookhope to Westgate in County Durham. From Brough to Kirby Stephen in Cumbria and from Hexham to Housesteads in Northumberland.
The levels of the walks have been designed to suit people of all ages and abilities, from a four-mile amble around the woods and along the riverbank footpaths around Barnard Castle, to a hardy nine-mile climb up Cross Fell (both on Thursday, October 3).
Rambles, scrambles, strides and strolls
As well as the rambles, scrambles, strides and strolls there are numerous events that celebrate the famous names who lived in, or memorably visited, the North Pennines.
Paint Your Own Turner (on Monday, September 30) follows the famous artist’s footsteps, taking in a walk through the landscape of Upper Teesdale to Low and High Force waterfalls. The walk culminates in a painting session where participants will have the chance to create their own masterpieces.
A walk designed to capture the imaginations of photography enthusiasts (on October 1) will take in the stunning scenery of the waterfalls of Westgate. Throughout the walk there will be discussions on all aspects of photography from depth of field to composition.
Wildlife walks and fungal forays
Wildlife lovers will have the chance to look into the nocturnal life of bats along the Allen Banks (on Thursday, October 3) on a short evening walk lead by The National Trust. The organisation is also holding a Fungal Foray event later in the week with mycology lecturer, Dr Gordon Beakes, heading the hunt for edible and deadly fungi.
Lovers of steam trains can indulge in their passion by taking a leisurely ride from South Tynedale Railway in Alston, on to Kirkhaugh. When participants alight from the heritage engine they will go on to explore Epiacum Roman Fort (on Sunday, October 6).
While writers can find literary inspiration on the ‘Penning in the Pennines’ walk, which starts out from the new Bowlees Visitor Centre in Teesdale, taking in the old road to Ash Hill, crossing the river at Holwick Head Bridge.
A look below the surface
And it’s not just above ground where the walking will take place. Those with a desire to seek out the fascinating world that lies beneath the North Pennines can go on an ‘Underground Adventure’ exploring the tunnels of Nenthead Mines.
There are also several charity walks which will raise money for a range of local causes including Eden Mencap, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Upper Eden First Responders.
Di Denbury, from Friends of the North Pennines, said: “With 50 walks there should be something for everyone over the nine days. We hope the festival gives people the chance to explore parts of the North Pennines they’ve never been to before, or rediscover favourite spots. It’s a truly special place and fully deserves its status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and anyone who comes along to any of these walks or events will get to see just what a special place this is.
Book your place
“We’d like to thank all of our partners who have played such an important part in the festival – without their help we wouldn’t have been able to offer such a varied programme.”
For further information about the festival, or to book a place on any of the walks visit www.northpennineswalkingfestival.org.uk
Released: 15 August 2013