Ninth Newton Stewart Walking Festival gaining momentum

Walkers take a rest under the distinctive rock formation known as the Grey Man of Merrick. Photo credit: Robert Gemmell
Walkers take a rest under the distinctive rock formation known as the Grey Man of Merrick. Photo credit: Robert Gemmell

THE ninth Newton Stewart Walking Festival is set to take place between 6th and 12th May and included in the programme of more than 30 walks and events are a range of challenging routes.

These will get into the very heart of the Galloway Forest Park and the high hill ranges of Galloway – the Awfu’ Hand, the Dungeons, the Kells and the Minnigaff Hills.

On Saturday 7th May, the biggest challenge of them all is the 21 mile north-to-south traverse of the Awfu’ Hand range and the Minnigaff hills. Starting near the banks of the River Stinchar and ending beside the River Cree, this full day of walking packs in some of the highest hills in Galloway - in fact 2,000 meters worth of ascent. The Awfu’ Hand range also features on Sunday 8th May, in the “Three Fingers of the Awfu’Hand” route, on Monday 9th May on the “Tunskeen to Loch Trool” walk, which covers the little known territory in the north, and the ever-popular climb of the Merrick, Tiu Meurach, on Thursday 12th May.

The Kells Range to the north east features on Saturday 7th May in an interesting walk from Clenrie to Loch Trool as well as the route which tackles the Corbett of Corserine on Tuesday 10th May.

Meanwhile the most southerly range in the high hills of Galloway, the Minnigaff Hills, is certainly not forgotten. Lamachan and Wee Craignaw feature in a route which kicks off the festival on Friday 6th May while the next day, the “Lamachan and Mulldonoch” walk provides a new route and an opportunity to mark off two tops. The popular “Three Wees” walk is offered on Sunday 8th May, while the Minnigaff Hills also feature heavily in the intriguingly entitled “A Galloway Gallimaufry” walk on Wednesday 11th May.

For those looking for something a little less strenuous, two lovely walks in the Dungeon Range fit the bill – the “Cradle of Independence” on Saturday 7th May and the chance to visit the watery gems of “Galloway’s Jewelled Necklace” on Sunday 8th May.

Details of all these walks as well as all the others which explore the coasts, woodlands, history, geology and wildlife of Galloway can be found on the festival website, www.newtonstewartwalkfest.com, and in the festival brochure which is available from the WRDC Business Centre and Stewart R Cunningham Outdoor Centre in Newton Stewart as well as local libraries, tourist information centres and other outlets throughout the region.

For those looking for a less strenuous way to experience the natural environment a programme of evening events offers an armchair visit to the great Galloway outdoors.