Meanderer: a family-owned barge in France
Climb a "via ferrata" in the Dolomites

Suffolk Walking Festival caters to all ages

Siuth and Heart of Suffolk Walking Festival
ABOVE: A guided walk at last year's South and Heart of Suffolk Walking Festival.

South and Heart of Suffolk Walking Festival logoEach year, the South and Heart of Suffolk Walking Festival offers more than two dozen guided walks for Suffolk residents and tourists of all ages. This year's festival runs from Saturday, 15 May through Sunday, 6 June. Here's what to expect, according to Pat Edgar of PR Matters:

The 2010 South and Heart of Suffolk Walking Festival will feature around 30 guided walks in a variety of locations to suit different tastes and fitness levels. A different kind of walking festival, it will feature some outings accompanied by a poet and storyteller plus photographic and twilight nature walks.

The region, with its softly undulating landscapes, pretty villages and magnificent cultural heritage, is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the fresh air while exploring its countryside on foot.

Walks range from gentle 2-3 mile country rambles and medieval meanders through ancient villages and towns to longer and more energetic outings of up to 12 miles through Suffolk’s beautiful countryside. Many include lunch and afternoon tea stops with a chance to sample some fresh local produce, while for others walkers are asked to bring their own picnic.

Special interest outings include Wildlife Discovery on 15th May, a circular walk taking in the habitats at Grove Farm, near Thurston where conservation and farming can be seen working side by side, and an early morning walk on 22nd May around Arger Fen to watch and hear the dawn wildlife and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the designation of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This ends with breakfast at the idyllic Assington Mill.

Walkers will be joined by poet and performer Dean Park on four of the routes who will recite poems and stories along the way; there will also be a photographic walk on 22nd May starting out from the Beyond the Image Gallery at Thornham Magna when everyone is encouraged to bring a camera, and a chance to visit the sites associated with the famous murder of Maria Marten in the Red Barn at Polstead on 23rd May.  

There are also several walks with activities to attract a younger audience such as Mister Stevenson’s Light Railway on Bank holiday Monday, 31st May, which follows the route of the ‘Middy’ to discover how to interpret landscape clues, and the Scavenger Hunt at Thornham Walks – a gentle afternoon stroll through the woods hunting for a given list of items.

The South and Heart of Suffolk Walking Festival is organised by Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils and sponsored by the Discover Suffolk Project, which aims to encourage local residents and visitors to get out and about in the scenic Suffolk countryside.

Pre-booking is essential for all walks by calling the Tourist Information Centre at either Lavenham on 01787 248207 or Mid Suffolk on 01449 676800; they would also be able to advise on places to stay. Many of the walks are free while for others the prices range from £2 up to £20 per person (latter includes lunch); dogs are allowed on some walks but must be kept on a lead at all times. For further information or to download a copy of the Walking Festival programme, visit: www.southandheartofsuffolk.org.uk

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