A new nationwide event celebrating all that’s good about being outdoors is set to highlight some of Northumberland’s best country walks.
The first ever National Trust Festival of Walking gets under way on October 22 with a week’s worth of activities planned.
And scores of National Trust places across Northumberland and the wider North East of England region will be playing their part by hosting trails, walks, wanders and rambles aimed at encouraging people of all ages and abilities to put their best foot forward.
The conservation charity hopes to show that walking doesn’t have to be hard work and can infact be lots of fun.
To coincide with the festival the Trust is also launching 10 new ‘Easy Walks’ in the region at iconic spots such as Hadrian’s Wall and Housesteads Roman Fort, Lindisfarne Castle off the beautiful north Northumberland coast and the iconic Penshaw Monument near Sunderland in County Durham.
Designed to be self-led, the Easy Walks are exactly what they claim to be – relaxed. Generally less than two miles in length, they take walkers across good, flat surfaces without the need for heavy hiking boots.
They also all have a key theme or story that is special to the place where they are based and are downloadable from the National Trust website with a colour map.
Jo Foster, visitor experience consultant for the National Trust in the North East, said: “The idea behind the Easy Walks was to develop new routes that aren’t difficult to follow and that tell the stories of the places that we look after.
“At Wallington visitors can discover some of the adventures of the Trevelyan family children, at Souter Lighthouse you can discover the lost village of Marsden and at Penshaw Monument hear the story of the Lambton Worm. All of the stories help to bring these wonderful landscapes to life.
“There are 10 walks across the North East and we hope people will download the maps from nationaltrust.org.uk/northeast and use them to explore places that have great stories to tell.”
The National Trust’s Festival of Walking will see over 180 events taking place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland between October 22-30 at a time when the autumn colours are vivid, giving the perfect backdrop to a day out with friends or family.
William Wake, from the National Trust outdoors team, added: “From leaf-kicking to finding conkers there is something simply delicious about an autumn walk. We’re asking people to tell us what they think makes autumn walking so special – to see if we can identify the perfect formula for a family outing.”
“People can get involved by logging their favourite walks on an interactive map on the Trust’s website, nationaltrust.org.uk/walking, or comment on the Trust’s Facebook pages or go onto Twitter using #walkfest from October 20.”
Early feedback ahead of the start of the walking festival indicates people can’t wait to get out into the fresh air. Mum of three, Kerry Macdowell from Northumberland, said: “Autumn is such a special time of year to go walking, all the colours and leaves make it a really exciting time for the kids.”
The National Trust has partnered with leading health insurer PruHealth to organise events all over the country from barefoot to silly, adventure, family and wildlife walks.
Here are just a few walks and events to try alongside the Easy Walks at Trust places in Northumberland.
October 22-23: Wallington Morpeth Family Challenge Walk, 11am – 3pm
Choose which walk you want to tackle then follow the trail to claim a reward. The walks take from approximately 45 minutes to 2 ½ hours and lead participants off to explore the beautiful woodland and farmland around Wallington Morpeth, with wonderful views over the wider estate. No booking needed. Tel: 01670 773600 for further information.
October 23-24 and 28, Seaton Delaval Hall Bat Walk, 5pm – 7.30pm
Join in this short walk around the grounds of Seaton Delaval Hall exploring bat ecology and some of the issues that bat colonies present. A gentle stroll suitable for young children. Costs £5.
October 30: Cragside Spooky Lakeside Walk, 4pm
What lurks in the lake in the dead of night? Only the brave can join in on this one mile walk with surprises along the way. Costs £2 per person. Booking essential on 0844 249 1895.
October 24-28: Holy Jesus Hospital, Newcastle, Local History Walks
There are different starting points for each walk. For details call the Inner City Project on 0191 255 7610. Come prepared for being outside and for whatever the weather is doing. Suitable, comfortable footwear such as trainers will be fine. The walks range from two to eight miles and are all on hard surfaces. There are some steep climbs (to and from the river) and steps in some of the parks. Call the booking line for more information. Dogs on leads welcome.