Countdown to Newton Stewart Walking Festival begins

The summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet near Creetown provided a perfect place for these walkers to enjoy the evening sun on last year's Newton Stewart Walking Festival. Photo credit: M Kneeshaw.

The summit of Cairnsmore of Fleet near Creetown provided a perfect place for these walkers to enjoy the evening sun on last year's Newton Stewart Walking Festival. Photo credit: M Kneeshaw.

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WITH only a week to go, the organisers of Newton Stewart Walking Festival are looking forward to welcoming hundreds of walkers to the town.

The week-long event, which takes place between Friday 11th and Thursday 17th May, is marking its 10th anniversary. More than 30 full and part-day guided walks and evening events are planned.

Centred on the Galloway Hills, the programme features climbs to well known peaks such as Merrick, and Cairnsmore of Fleet as well as a host of lesser known areas. Members of Galloway Mountain Rescue Team will lead walks into the wild heart of Galloway.

For this year the festival organisers have teamed up with those who are seeking to secure UNESCO biosphere status for Galloway and Southern Ayrshire. Many of the routes on offer will give walkers the chance to get into the very heart of the special landscapes on which the biosphere bid is based.

There will also be evening talks and slideshows exploring what makes these landscapes of international significance.

A range of more gentle routes are also being offered with the spectacular Galloway coast featuring strongly. Routes along the Rhins coast near Stranraer and the Solway Riviera at Kippford still have a few spaces left.

For those looking to gain an even greater appreciation of their surroundings the festival has a range of experts on hand. Mark Williams of Galloway Wildfoods will be leading a coastal forage before cooking up a beach barbecue near Gatehouse of Fleet. Meanwhile celebrated Stirling based landscape photographer Keith Ratcliffe will be providing tips on getting the best shots of the beautiful Galloway landscape on a coastal walk near Garlieston.

Joan Mitchell, chair of the organising committee said: “We already have several of our walks fully booked, so I would urge local residents who are planning to get involved in the festival to book up sooner rather than later to ensure the widest choice of routes.”

The full 2012 Newton Stewart Walking Festival programme is available online at www.newtonstewartwalkfest.com. Brochures can also be picked up at libraries and tourist information centres across the region. Bookings can be made online at the festival website or by calling 01671 404500. Alternatively call into WRDC Business Centre in Queen Street in Newton Stewart to book in person or to pick up more information.