The Haltwhistle Rings
The Haltwhistle Rings are a collection of 22 circular walks of between 4 and 9 miles, all centred on Haltwhistle and its neighbouring parishes. They were devised, tested, mapped and described by keen local walker John Dixon (now deceased) and Mike Swann, with the assistance of other local walkers. In her recently published book, More Than Just a Walk – The Story of the Haltwhistle Walking Festival 2003 – 2020, Maureen Hart describes the significance of the Haltwhistle Rings for the Walking Festival – early festivals were based upon them, and many of the team who helped with their development were the founders of the Festival.
The Rings date back to 2003, when they were first published. They were drawn up as 22 separate leaflets, and were sold locally. Each leaflet includes photographs of significant features, and a map of the route. They were intended to stimulate interest in the beautiful countryside around Haltwhistle, and to encourage people to return to it following the devastation caused by the outbreak of foot and mouth in 2001/02. They were very successful in this.
The leaflets sold well, and have been very well used in the years since their publication. They are no longer available as leaflets, although there are rumours of sets still available in Charity shops and second hand bookshops! However, all 22 walks appear in their original form on the Haltwhistle Partnership website – https://haltwhistle.org/index.php/miscellaneous-pages/28-walks
In preparation for the 2021 Walking Festival, which will be a “virtual” Festival, the Haltwhistle Walking Festival Committee has decided to revisit the popular Rings, and to use them once again as the basis for encouraging people to visit the beautiful countryside around Haltwhistle, following the effects of Corona Virus. There is a painful symmetry to this, the Rings functioning again as a path to hope after devastating disease.
As a first step, the Committee – in conjunction with the festival volunteers and the regular Wednesday walkers – is carrying out a review of the routes. It is 17 years since they were first collated, and much has changed in that time. New roads, new bridges, footpath diversions; new plantations planted, and old ones harvested, development of routes such as the South Tyne Cycle path, and new buildings such as The Sill - all have made a difference to the routes and their descriptions. We are hard at work now, and hope to have a brand new set of revised Rings ready for the Spring. We hope that they will appear on our website in downloadable, and easy to follow format, for you all to venture back into the beautiful Haltwhistle countryside.
Watch this space for more news!