Sixteen walks over eight days are planned for the 2011 Rothbury and Coquetdale Walking Festival.
Northumberland National Park has teamed up with Shepherds Walks to bring together the third Rothbury and Coquetdale Walking Festival in June.
The event is now a fixture in the walking calendar and brings welcome early tourists to the Coquet Valley.
Building on the success of the past two years, this year’s walking festival has some truly unique guided walks.
Short history walks and walks along the border ridge between England and Scotland are some of the highlights for this event.
Other highlights include :–
Drover Roads of Coquetdale – An 8 mile guided walk looking at the old drover roads that criss-crossed Rothbury and Coquetdale.
When droving was at its peak between the 16th to 18th Centuries, great trains of cattle of traditional hardy hill breeds were driven from Scotland to the markets of England in Northumberland. These old green roads, many more ancient than a few hundred years, still wind through the hills and make firm walking through breathtaking countryside.
Nordic Walking – A full day’s training course for those wanting to try out this new way of walking, whose popularity is sweeping the country. Poles are provided.
Nordic Walking is perfect for people who want to get more active and fit. It is simple to learn, suitable for people who have been inactive for a while and a great way to gently encourage full body movement. The poles help to reduce pressure on the knees and joints and help propel the walker along making walking feel easier than you expect.
Whisky Stills of Coquetdale – A 9 mile walk to visit the sites of some of the illicit 18th Century Whisky Stills whose remains can still be seen in the Coquet Valley.
In the 18th-19th Century, Coquetdale farmers secretly supplied barley to the illegal stills for the malting process to supplement their incomes. Excise men would patrol the hills looking for contraband liquor. But the whisky in stoneware jars called grey hens, was hidden in sacks of grain or bran then carried by packhorse through the remote valleys of the Cheviots to be sold across the border in Scotland or at remote farms or whisky houses such as the notorious Slyme Foot Inn near Barrowburn.
Cragside Challenge Walk – The finale of the Walking Festival is a 13 mile self guided ‘challenge walk’ which passes through the National Trust’s Cragside estate and the countryside that surrounds Rothbury (free entry to Cragside on the day of event provided for participants.)
Cragside House was the most advanced des-res of its day, belonging to Victorian industrialist, Lord Armstrong who used it to host Royalty and as a showpiece of hydro-electric power. He planted thousands of specimen trees on the estate which provides fine walks and fabulous views.
Walking Festival guides
Festival walks are led by a range of experienced walk guides from the National Park and from Shepherds Walks.
Jon Monks, a Northumbrian Hill Shepherd, set up his business almost by accident when he placed a few of his favourite walks on a website back in 1999. It has since grown to cover large parts of northern England.
The 2011 Rothbury and Coquetdale Walking Festival runs from Saturday, 18 to Saturday, 25 June 2011. For more information please visit www.rothburywalking.co.uk or call 01830 540453 for a free programme to be posted out.