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RAMBLES AND AMBLES AT THIS YEAR’S WALKING FESTIVAL

The 16th annual Isle of Wight Walking Festival is officially launched on Saturday 3 May at a special event in St Thomas’ Square in Newport where walkers will have the chance to meet the festival’s walk leaders and sponsors.

It’s the ideal opportunity to find out about the 200-plus walks taking place over the 16-day festival which takes place between 2 and 18 May.

The event’s title sponsor’s Garmin will be explaining how GPS handheld devices can help people to get the most out of their walks. In addition they will be running an introduction to geocaching walk on Sunday 11 May, starts 2pm at Appley Park near the old golf hut.

For people interested in finding out more about GPS technology, Garmin is running a special training event on Saturday 10 May at Quay Arts in Newport between 7pm and 9pm. Garmin’s team of experts will be on hand to show walkers and outdoor enthusiasts how to make the most of integrated products such as GPS wristwatches and action cameras and explain online software can be used to track and record your favourite walks. The event is free, but places are limited, to book email elaine.cesar@iow.gov.uk.

This year’s festival includes a number of new walks, including the colourful carnival trail where walking meets art and carnival. Led by the New Carnival Company, the trail covers 100 miles over five days, linking all of the Island’s carnival towns and villages. There’s a chance for families to have fun outdoors in the ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾!’ walk – prepared to get dirty with activities ranging from bug hunting to geocaching in this hour-long walk with the National Trust near Shalfleet on Monday 5 May – start any time between 10am and 4pm.

Many old favourites return, including the famous speed dating walk which has resulted in many love matches including five weddings. The friendly, informal walk gives people the chance to meet like-minded people while enjoying the beautiful sea views along Shanklin Esplanade. More men are still needed to join the many ladies who have already registered for the walk – to sign up people should visit the walking festival website.

The gruelling 24-hour non-stop endurance walk around the Island returns on Saturday 17 May. For experienced walkers only, walk leader Martin Neville will guide hikers around the Island’s coastal path in what is probably the toughest walk in the festival’s programme.

For people looking to enjoy the Island’s beautiful scenery at a more leisurely pace, there are scores of gentle ambles to choose from, as well as many walks designed for children.

Try one of the many fossil walks, or the tiny tots and toddlers tea party in Niton, or the rock pool safari in Bembridge or duck feeding walk in Shanklin – full details can be found in the Isle of Wight Walking Festival’s extensive programme or online at www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk

Visitors to this year’s festival can take advantage of discounted ferry fares as event sponsors Red Funnel and Wightlink are offering special discounts for walkers – visit www.redfunnel.co.uk/walking and www.wightlink.co.uk/walking for details.

Councillor Shirley Smart, Executive member for economy and tourism, said: “There are walks for all ages and abilities at this year’s walking festival, I’m particularly looking forward to the carnival walks which are a vibrant addition to this year’s programme.”

For full details of all of this year’s walks, including the four-day autumn walking weekend in October, please visit www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk.

Issued by:

Anna Price, Media Team Leader

Tel: 01983 821000 ext 6253

Mob: 07976 347637

Email: anna.price@iow.gov.uk