2014 Otley Walking Festival begins this weekend

Wharfedale Observer: Walkers gathering at The Buttercross, the starting point of the Six Dales Trail, during the 2013 Otley Walking Festival. Walkers gathering at The Buttercross, the starting point of the Six Dales Trail, during the 2013 Otley Walking Festival.

ENTHUSIASTS from across the north of England will be making a beeline for Otley this weekend to take part in the town's 2014 Walking Festival.

The annual event begins on Saturday, June 21 and will feature 50 different activities, including a saunter with a minstrel, a Troll Stroll and walks ranging from gentle town strolls to strenuous moorland hikes.

Wild food, bats, a Christian pilgrimage route, literature, and ale will also feature amongst the many themed walks during the festival's nine days.

Otley Walking Festival organising committee chairman Ruth Blackwell is hoping everyone will have a go as there are events to suit all ages and abilities.

She said: "With a choice of 50 walks and events, there really is something for everyone."

The festival's busy programme will start with a nine and a half mile trek from Shipley to Otley, meeting at Otley Bus Station at 9.15am to travel to the starting point, on June 21.

The nine-day event will go on to include Morris dancing, a musical mystery pub tour featuring the Otley Ukulele Orchestra, and children's attractions including a Teddy bear stroll.

Other likely highlights include a 12 mile bacon buttie walk, a brewery walk which takes in WharfeBank Brewery at Pool-in-Wharfedale, and a 16 mile Three Crags Walk, for serious hikers.

Those who enjoy combining refreshments with the great outdoors, meanwhile, are invited to go Walking with Wine at Farnley Hall - an eight mile walk with impressive views followed by wine at the hall.

And a fresh insight into a landmark many in the town already know well, Otley Chevin, will be given when Dave Robson leads a three mile exploration into the forest park's lesser known paths on Thursday, June 26.

The festival will wrap up next weekend with a social walk and barbecue on Saturday, June 28, followed by a grand finale and raffle at the Manor Pub on Sunday, June 29.

Festival programmes are available from Otley Courthouse, local libraries and businesses, and the festival office at Chevin Trek, off Gay Lane. Details can also be found online at www.chevintrek.co.uk.

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