A bigger and better walking festival this year!

Alton has just finished its May Walking Festival – its biggest ever with 113 walks, covering some 670 miles, spread across the month, enticing walkers from as far afield as Scotland.

Over 1650 people participated, with one walker commenting ‘What fun the festival has been! How much smiling and chat there was, what lovely routes and weather and how easy it was to get out of bed when going walking that day!’.

Alton say “Alton’s Walking Festival is run by Walk Alton and our town council, led by the wonderful Natalie who managed the mammoth task of the timetabling, bookings and making sure everything ran smoothly on each of the 31 days. Our publicity was supported by a new partnership with South Western Railways which saw a poster on each of their stations across the network, as well as a fresh social media presence with stories on most days of the week.

We were blessed with super weather with rain affecting walkers on only two days. And among a collection of walks ranging from 2 miles to almost 30, the festival included a 20 or 30 mile challenge with only a map as a guide (no leader, no instructions), two walks from our neighbouring Walkers are Welcome towns – Overton and Whitchurch (20 and 26 miles away) – and shorter themed walks such as foraging, mindfulness and literary as well as lots of other lovely local routes. The brewery and vineyard walks were particularly popular. Walks were led by volunteers and by our various local walking groups

One of our walk leaders summed up the festival with this little A-Z:

Alton Women Walkers
Biggest & Best Festival!, Bluebells, Binsted, Buses to the start of some walks
Chawton’s Challenge, Civil War, Battle of Cheriton, Cobbett, Cardiac Rehab
Dogs … on leads, Dawn chorus, Deer, Downland
Everybody can join in, Eventbrite bookings/cancellations
Fields, Forests & Footpaths, Free, new Friends, old Friendships rekindled
George’s gallops, Gilbert White’s brewhouse tasting, Ghost walks
Hedgerow foraging, Hi-viz vests, Hares, Hangers
Ian … pestered leaders and provided training (with Sally)
Jubilee Playing Fields, Just another mile
King’s pond buggy walks
Leaders and Backmarkers volunteering, Lost? (not in this festival)
Miles and miles and miles
Natalie … who did so much work
October next, One hundred miles walked, OS maps, Odiham, Overton
Powerful poles, Photo competition, Petersfield friends not rivals
Questions & feedback
Rapid or relaxed speed, Ramblers too, Rain or shine
Six Hills, SWR, Spoilt for choice
Tree walks, Treloars, Town walks
U3A
Villages, Views, Vineyards
Whitchurch, Winchester, Whistles, Walkers are Welcome, Writers’ footsteps, Wellbeing walks
X-citing new routes discovered
Yes! to next year’s festival
Zzzzzzz … now its all over (for a while)

Our next festival – just a week – will run in October to coincide with Alton’s hosting of the Walkers are Welcome annual event. We will be happy to talk to delegates about our festival and how to go about planning such a big event when we meet you in the Autumn. So we hope you will book your place in Alton in October (4-9th) and join us on some of our favourite walks. “

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