Isle of Wight Walking Festival
The largest walking event in the UK, with around 20,000 people taking part...
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival - organised mainly by the Isle of Wight Council - is the largest walking event in the UK, with around 20,000 people taking part each year. Now in its 14th year, the main festival takes place in May, with two weeks of organised walks across the Isle of Wight. Additionally, there is now also an autumn walking weekend every October. Recognised as one of the top annual Isle of Wight events, the island offers a walker’s idea of paradise!
Fire and Glass Walk
Opening the Isle of Wight Walking Festival this year on 5th May 2012 was Mark King from the band Level 42, along with around 26 other very brave souls… Brave because although they started the festival with what was the shortest walk at 20ft, some might say this was actually the most difficult walk of the entire festival… a glass and then a fire walk!
Walk the Wight
The main and most well-known walk is undoubtedly Walk the Wight. The sun shone on the cheerful walkers who took part on 13th May 2012. Around 10,000 people register for this major Isle of Wight event each year. The full route is from Bembridge to Alum Bay, spanning the length of the Isle of Wight, which is nearly 27 miles! For those who want to be involved in a less challenging way, there are shorter options, including an 8 mile flat walk. Walk the Wight is in aid of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, whose staff work extremely hard to make this happen. Many people walk in memory of a family member or a friend who spent their last few weeks being cared for at the hospice, so it can be an emotional but extremely rewarding day for some. Others come for the stunning scenery and superb walk, wanting to raise money for this excellent cause whilst having a fantastic day they’ll always remember!
Video credit: Joe Briscoe, WIGHTvid.com
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2012 saw 10,584 registered Walk the Wight walkers, with another 2000 or so who were not registered but walked the last 4 miles with their children and local schools. 881 walkers were over the age of 60, with an amazing 17 walkers who were over 80 years old! Equally as impressive, 312 walkers under the age of 10 officially registered for Walk the Wight. An 81 year old who started very early in Bembridge, finished in Alum Bay at about 7.25pm – great stuff! Finally, 363 dogs registered, 71 of which did the whole walk. This was the first year our furry friends could officially register and earn a medal too! So, a MASSIVE congratulations to all who took part.
Other Isle of Wight Walking Festival walks
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival has 120 keen walk leaders, most of whom have supported the Isle of Wight Council’s walking event over the past 14 years. There are a series of great walks from the Ramblers. All walks are led by knowledgeable and friendly walk leaders. Spoilt for choice, walks include speed date walking, wildlife walks, historic walks and ghost walks to name just a few. In fact, the speed dating walks to date, have seen four perfect matches (four weddings and a baby)! Last week, 86 walkers took part in the speed date walk which was very successful, with no less than 32 matches! You are bound to find something you’ll love, as there are now over 240 walks for the festival itself, not forgetting the 70 extra walks during the additional walking weekend later in the year during October. There are plenty of things to do on the Isle of Wight, but what better way to take in the stunning countryside, superb coastal scenery and sea air?
Want to get your walking boots on and join in the fun?
The festival has lots more planned this final week, ending 20th May 2012. If you fancy being involved in the remaining walks this year, or would like to come and join us on the island for the Isle of Wight Walking Festival 2013, keep an eye on the official Isle of Wight Walking festival website for full information. Walk the Wight registration usually opens around January time, through the Earl Mountbatten Hospice.