Happy New Year to all our walking friends, wherever you may be. Life is very different at the moment, and very hard for us all. We know you share our love of walking, and we hope despite everything, to inspire you to continue walking, to tell us all about where you have been and what you've been doing, and to offer some new ideas for getting out into the countryside and - having fun!
If you have been watching Robson Green walking along Hadrian's Wall, you will be reminded that Northumberland is still here, and still beautiful! You may have caught a glimpse of us, but we do hope to feature more towards the end. Keep watching!
Our Haltwhistle Walking Festival could not happen last year because of "you know what" - but we intend to bring it back in 2021, albeit in a one off, virtual format. Over the next few weeks, we will introduce many ideas that may help you plan some walks during the Festival period, and to take part by sharing your experiences with us all. The more people who do participate, the greater connection we can feel with each other.
Stop Press! Watch Channel 5 this Thursday, January 14th at 9pm for the first episode of a series showing Robson Green walking the length of Hadrian's Wall. Walk Leaders John Johnson, Catriona Mulligan, Kevin Jones & Anne Palmer may (we hope!) feature. We spent a day filming at the Solway in August, as Robson was ending his trek, so we expect to make an appearance in the last of the three episodes. (January 28th)
The whole programme will be of interest to you all, and will remind you of the places you cannot, currently, visit!
We are continuing to re-Walk, revise, re-write and review The Haltwhistle Rings. Even as the weather worsens, and daylight hours shrink to almost nothing, our intrepid volunteers are out and about, clambering over stiles and trudging through bogs, to make sure the Rings are ready for the Spring Festival.
so far, 12 Rings have been completed and re-written, with many more partially completed. We are making a note of “defects”, such as broken stiles and unsafe bridges, and are reporting these to the County Council. We are hoping remedial action will be taken by spring. Below: Joss Mahon checking the route north of Greenhead.
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!