Countdown to 2023 Newton Stewart Walking Festival

Next week sees the start of the annual Newton Stewart Walking Festival, which will feature over 30 walks and evening events showcasing the region.

The theme for this year’s festival is Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, demonstrating why this part of Scotland has been internationally recognised as a special place by showcasing the variety of landscapes, from the Machars coastal cliffs to the glaciated highlands of the Galloway Hills.

The walks programme covers a range of abilities and includes a route from Glengap to Ringford via Barstobrick Hill, an exploration of Cairnsmore of Fleet accompanied by a guide from Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, a fascinating delve into the landscape restoration project being undertaken at Threave Estate near Castle Douglas and even a chance for a walk and then wild swim in Loch Trool with a wild swimming expert.

The programme also features several biosphere communities including Gatehouse of Fleet, Whithorn, Glentrool and St John’s Town of Dalry, with local guides demonstrating the sense of place, the appreciation of the environment and history of their community, which has led them to signing up to the Biosphere’s ethos.

The evening talks, to which everyone interested is invited, also pick up Biosphere themes. On Saturday 13th May Malcolm Haddow, a young ecologist from the Biosphere team, will introduce the natural gems of the Biosphere’s core area. His lovely pictures will feature the wealth of plants, birds, mosses and insects, some familiar, others elusive and little known, which are here on our doorstep.

On Tuesday 16th May Martin McGhie, a hydro-electric engineer, and Claire Williamson, an archaeologist, will tell the story of the Galloway Hydro Scheme – the first project to generate ‘green’ electricity, harnessing  the energy of Galloway’s natural resources.

Joan Mitchell, chair of the walking festival committee, said:

“It’s really encouraging to see the bookings flowing in from old friends as well as new people from as far afield as the USA and Finland.  We are also welcoming new helpers, leaders and guides, to supplement our loyal team of volunteers who, for the nineteenth year, are putting on one of the most popular walking events in Scotland.”
“Thanks to the support of volunteers from Galloway Mountain Rescue Team and Wigtownshire Ramblers as well as staff from Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, National Trust for Scotland, Solway Firth Partnership and others we are managing to continually refresh our programme and are offering a terrific choice of walks and talks this year.”

This year’s festival has been possible due to the generous support of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership, Newton Stewart Initiative, Stewart R Cunningham Outdoor Centre and The Belted Galloway Visitor Centre.

The festival runs from 12th to 18th May and the full programme is available on the festival’s website www.walkfestnewtonstewart.com. Bookings can be made online via the website. You can also keep up to date via the festival’s Facebook page.