Walking back to happiness

Tourism chiefs and local business owners meet at Southburn to unveil the  Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoor Festival 2013.
Tourism chiefs and local business owners meet at Southburn to unveil the Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoor Festival 2013.

Farming company JSR at Southburn played host to the official launch of a walking festival designed to showcase the best the area can offer and put the Wolds on a national and international stage.

The Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival runs from September 14 to 22 and brings together 85 events across nine action-packed days, the overwhelming majority of them being free of charge.

Highlights include the launch of a heritage walking and cycling trail, guided scenic and special interest walks at various locations throughout the Wolds, the chance to go Nordic Walking and the chance to join in the latest craze of Geocaching - a 21st century version of treasure hunts using GPS satellite navigation devices.

There’s even the opportunity to get an insight in to a thriving Buddhist retreat based in a former stately home and experience a meditation session.

The launch will began with a VHEY update on the Yorkshire Wolds campaign and branding followed by a short walk and photo call before an exclusive visit to the Southburn Archaeological Museum on the JSR site which houses a full size replica of the Wetwang Chariot on loan from the British Museum.

One of those already convinced the Yorkshire Wolds is ripe for discovery by more visitors is Fergus Collins, editor of the influential BBC Countryfile magazine, who described it as: “A softer crescent of hills, secret deep valleys and astonishingly pretty villages, each with a gem of a church, an inviting pub and a duck pond mantled by willow trees.”

And Andy Gray, tourism manager for Visit Hull & East Yorkshire, who organise the festival, sees it as an important part of their drive to increase tourism, which is already worth in excess of £615 million a year to the local economy. “Nature tourism is seen as the next big thing and East Yorkshire and the Wolds is wonderful placed to offer an unrivalled package of experiences both inland and on the coast,” he said.

“This festival provides an ideal snapshot of the myriad of opportunities we offer to young and old, whether you are a walker, cyclist, horse rider, photographer, birdwatcher or someone who wants to dig deeper into the stories that make up our rich heritage.”

This year’s festival also coincides with the Heritage Open Days, funded by English Heritage and the East Yorkshire Open Art Studios.

A full colour brochure detailing all the events making up the Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival is now available from tourist information centres or can be downloaded by visiting http://www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/events/wolds-walking-festival.aspx