Walking festival hosts party of Japanese academics

Japanese visitors with Isabelle Howatson at the Belted Galloway.
Japanese visitors with Isabelle Howatson at the Belted Galloway.

Newton Stewart Walking Festival Committee played host last week to a group of Japanese academics interested in walking tourism, path provision and countryside access.

The group had made contact with Newton Stewart via the Walkers are Welcome network – an organisation of towns enthusiastic about promoting walking of which Newton Stewart is a member.

Despite inclement weather the visitors enjoyed their stay and were able to see a variety of paths in the Cree Valley area including Merrick hill path, the Southern Upland Way, Forestry Commission paths at Stroan bridge and RSPB paths at Wood of Cree.

One member of the group was particularly interested in the provision of disabled access and found a visit to Kirroughtree Visitor Centre with Keith Muir from the Forestry Commission very useful.

Joan Mitchell, chair of NSWF, said: “Some of our Japanese visitors were familiar with other parts of the UK but were new to Galloway and they were struck by the scale and wildness of Galloway Forest Park and the Biosphere area.

“They were visiting a number of walking towns in south of Scotland and England and participating in a network like this opens up marketing opportunities for the local area. I’m grateful to local businesses and the Forestry Commission for being so helpful at short notice and helping us to provide our visitors with a variety of useful experiences.”