The countdown has begun to the 10th Newton Stewart Walking Festival.
The week-long event, which takes place between Friday and Thursday, May 11 and 17, will feature more than 30 guided walks and evening social events celebrating the landscape of Galloway.
Chairwoman of the organising committee, Joan Mitchell, said: “We are very much looking forward to celebrating 10 years of the Newton Stewart Walking Festival. In recognition of this milestone we will kick off the 2012 festival with a birthday reunion for everyone who has enjoyed the event over the years.”
The festival’s popularity owes much to the variety of walking opportunities easily accessible from Newton Stewart, which allows the organisers to offer new routes and fresh perspectives each year.
Joan added: “The Galloway Hills really do offer some great opportunities to experience wild Scotland. By contrast, our coastline, with its mix of rugged cliffs, rocky shores and wide sandy beaches, is also nearby. Our forests and woodlands are criss-crossed by paths while farm tracks provide access to our open countryside. In addition, Galloway’s towns and villages are the perfect place to relax after a day’s walking and several of our routes conveniently finish close to pubs or tearooms.
“Who would have thought 10 years ago that Galloway Forest Park and the Galloway Hills would have been designated European’s first Dark Sky Park and also be on the verge of joining an impressive list of special landscapes across the world as a Unesco Biosphere Reserve? Newton Stewart Walking Festival is offering walkers the opportunity to visit some of these special places such as the Merrick-Kells Range, the Silver Flowe and Cairnsmore of Fleet.”
The 2012 festival features a total of 28 walks. These range from coastal and low-level rambles accompanied by an expert guide who can provide an insight into the wildlife, history or landscape interests en route, to strenuous adventures in the Galloway Hills with members of Galloway Mountain Rescue team.
The full programme of walks and other activities is available online at www.newtonstewartwalkfest.com. In addition, brochures can be picked up at libraries and tourist information Centres across the region or by calling into the Stewart R Cunningham Outdoor Centre in Victoria Street, Newton Stewart. Bookings can be made online at the festival website or by calling 01671 404500.