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Walk this way . . . for some great September events

Walkers wanting spectacular views, welcoming towns and villages and routes to suit all abilities, already know the Yorkshire Wolds boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. And now, an annual festival designed to put the Wolds on a national and international stage has expanded even further, showcasing the best the area can offer.

The Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival runs from September 9th to 17th and brings together more than 100 events across nine action-packed days, including specialist guided walks and boating, horse riding, cycling and outdoor pursuits.

Most of the events are free of charge.

Highlights include a stunning walk amid the “big sky” views of the Wolds popularised by the paintings of David Hockney, which includes an innovative “Secret Art” project. Using a downloadable app, walkers will be able to follow a map on their mobile and uncover hidden poems and artwork.

There’s also the chance to go Nordic Walking and an opportunity to join in the latest craze of Geocaching – a 21st century version of treasure hunts using GPS satellite navigation devices – while horse riders get the chance to take part in a guided ride covering the course of the Kiplingcotes Derby – the oldest horse race in the world.

Elsewhere, there’s an opportunity to get an insight into a thriving Buddhist retreat based in a former stately home and experience a meditation session. And you could even round your day off with a wonderful walk along the cliff tops at Bempton to take tea with the resident gannet population.

The festival, now in its seventh year, is hosted by Visit Hull and East Yorkshire and organised in conjunction with eight partner organisations, including the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Yorkshire Nature Triangle and Walking for Health.

VHEY tourism manager Andy Gray sees it as an important part of its drive to increase tourism, which is already worth in excess of £797 million a year to the local economy. “Nature tourism is seen as the next big thing and East Yorkshire and the Wolds is wonderfully placed to offer an unrivalled package of experiences both inland and on the coast,” he said.

“This festival provides an ideal snapshot of the myriad of opportunities we offer to young and old, whether you are a walker, cyclist, horse rider, photographer, birdwatcher or someone who wants to dig deeper into the stories that make up our rich heritage.”

He continued: “What started off as something with half-a-dozen walks has blossomed into an amazing diverse festival and we get people travelling to East Yorkshire from all over the country and overseas.

“It’s all about helping people discover what the county has to offer, to get them to stay a little bit longer and to get them to come back year after year. But it’s also about extending the tourism season by showing people there is so much to enjoy all year round.”

A full colour brochure detailing all the events making up the Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival is now available from tourist information centres or can be downloaded by visiting http://www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/yorkshire-wolds/wolds-walking-festival.aspx

HIGHLIGHTS IN MORE DETAIL:

Beverley stages a number of fascinating events as part of the festival; on the opening day (September 9th), for instance, there’s a walk exploring the darker side of Georgian Beverley, when entertainment included bull baiting and cock fights. On the same day, you can also take a trip up St Mary’s church tower for one of the best views over the town, although you will need to book.

There’s a walk devoted to the paintings of Beverley artist Fred Elwell, looking at some of the locations featured in his work and explaining how the artist came to live and work in the town. And for the first time, the festival has adapted a walk for people with impaired mobility.  It takes you round some of Beverley’s oldest streets, using a route designed to make it easier for someone with limited mobility.  The route uses dropped kerbs to give those using a wheelchair or a mobility scooter the chance to more easily access the centre of town and learn about the town’s history including foods, famous people, executions and the life of ordinary people.

If you fancy a tipple with your evening stroll, tour guide Paul Schofield will lead a Beverley pub walk, visiting some along the way and revealing the stories behind the town’s pubs and why Beverley had so many hostelries.

Further afield Pocklington plays host to Burnby Hall Gardens and Pocklington Canal Heritage Walk which showcases two of Pocklington’s most beautiful landmarks.  Find out about the history of Burnby Hall Gardens before taking in the history and wildlife of the Pocklington Canal.

Alternatively you could join the crew of the New Horizons narrow boat and take a tranquil cruise along Pocklington Canal spotting wildlife and the experience of going through a lock.  There will also be the opportunity for those interested to have a go at steering the boat!

Hull, Bridlington, towns and villages large and small, all host walks and activities as part of the festival. Guided tours of Spurn Point will also feature, as will a chance to go autumn foraging with an expert guide pointing out some of the amazing plants that can be used for culinary, herbal and medicinal purposes.