A guide to the Isle of Wight Walking Festivalback >
The Isle of Wight is undoubtedly one of the best places to enjoy a walking holiday. Not only does it boast 500 miles of maintained footpaths, more than half of the Island is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. That’s why it’s home to Europe’s biggest festival
Our guide to the Isle of Wight Walking Festival will tell you all you need to know about this annual event – get ready to dust off those hiking boots!
The festival’s history
Founded in 1999, the festival has humble beginnings. In its first year, there were only 39 walks included in the programme, now there are more than 200 to choose from. The main festival takes place in May every year, but there’s also the October Autumn Walking Weekend, which comprises more than 50 different walks.
What types of walks are included?
The best thing about the Isle of Wight Walking Festival is the sheer number of routes available – there really is something for everyone. The official programme, which can be downloaded from the event’s website, provides a helpful key, making it easy to find one which is suitable for you and your family.
Walks are coded by pace, difficulty, mobility (for those with disabilities) and whether booking is required or not. The key also indicates details such as how many steps and stiles are on the walk, whether dogs are welcome and if you should bring your binoculars.
Many of the walks are free, but others require a small fee per walker, such as the fossil hunting tours. Again, this is all detailed on the website.
If you’d like to raise some money for some deserving charities, there are several sponsored walks you can take part in, which vary from year to year. The Tassels and Torches night walk is one of the most popular charity options, and gives you the chance to raise some money for Breast Cancer Research, as well as have fun and make some new friends.
There’s always a variety of walks ideal for families with children of all ages. The little ones will particularly enjoy the guided fossil-hunting tours, duck-feeding walks and sing-alongs. Just be sure to check the length of each walk, as some are much longer than others! If in doubt, get in touch with the organiser and ask for more details.
Speed dating walks
Looking for love or just want to make some new friends? The Speed Dating Walk, which takes place in May, is hugely popular. It’s seen some successful matches too – five couples who’ve met on the walk have got married, and one has had a baby! A mix of age groups attend, so you’re sure to meet some fabulous people.
We’ve already mentioned the singing and dating walks, and there are plenty of quirky walks to try during the festival if you fancy something a little out of the ordinary. Animal-lovers won’t want to miss the opportunity to walk a llama or an alpaca, while those of a spooky sensibility will love the ghost walks.
There are also food walks, tea party strolls and relaxing yoga wanders. No matter what you’re into, there’s one to suit you!
If you can’t make it to the Walking Festival, don’t worry – there are lots of great walks you can do alone. Our Isle of Wight walking guide will tell you where the best walks are, as well as what to take with you.