Walk & Ride – come along!

This weekend sees the start of the South Pennines Walk & Ride Festival, a two-week long celebration of all the fresh air and diversity that the area has to offer for those who love the outdoors.

Programmes are available at TICs, libraries, council offices, railway stations and more throughout the area, or if you’re web savvie you can visit the virtual programme here:

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Of course, you can also download the programme from the festival’s website at www.southpenninesfestival.co.uk, where you’ll find even more information.

The grand opening will be held at Ilkley’s Riddings Hall this Saturday, at 10am. Our guest opener will be Kate Ashbrook, national patron of the Walkers are Welcome movement. Kate’s a formidable campaigner on behalf of rights of way and walkers’ rights, and is also general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, as well as being a trustee of The Ramblers.

The Walkers Are Welcome movement provides a great way for towns and villages to show they offer a genuine welcome to walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts, by working towards an accreditation scheme. Hebden Bridge in the South Pennines is home to the idea and was the first town to win the coveted label, and we’re delighted that Ilkley, another Walkers Are Welcome town, is hosting the launch of the festival.

Between this Saturday and September 26 more than 100 events will be held, including guided walks, mountain bike rides, off-road cycle events, horse rides, evening talks, day time talks, orienteering events… the list goes on and on!

There’s something for everyone – if you’ve never been walking before, try one of the gentle nature strolls of a mile or two; if you’re looking for a challenge, why not attempt the LDWA-led 20-miler, or one of the Backpackers’ Club’s two weekend-long explorations of Brontë country and beyond.

There are cycle rides of every description, and several equestrian events – you can either treat your own horse to a little exercise on one of the two rides, or perhaps get to know ponies close-up at the Peers Clough Pack Horse Centre’s open day.

Whether you live locally and what to get to know the area on your doorstep a little better, or come from further afield and want to escape the over-popular national parks that buffer the South Pennines, you’ll find a wonderful, peaceful, uncrowded landscape awaits!

See you there!

John Manning

Freelance outdoor writer John Manning and his family are based in the Yorkshire Dales