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Isle of Man Walking Festival begins on Monday 16 June 2006

The third Isle of Man Walking Festival gets underway on Monday with Tourism and Leisure Minister David Cretney officially launching the event at a welcome party in the Villa Marina on Sunday night.

Around 125 visitors will be taking part in the Festival and between them they have booked over 500 walks. Participants will be coming from all over the UK and there will even be one four-legged walker – Joey the dog who is travelling with his owner from Cumbria!

The Festival has caught the imagination of Americans. A party of around 13 walkers from the Naples Club in Florida have entered, together with individuals from Boston, Florida and California – one of whom intends to do the five-day 95 miles coastal walk around the Island.

Organiser Terry Marsh has arranged for a party of six freelance journalists and photographers, who specialise in walking and travel articles, to feature the event in the publications for which they write. A seventh journalist is flying in from Belgium to experience the Festival – and the Island – at first hand.

Said Terry:

‘Walking festivals are becoming very popular but I have tried to sell them the idea that the Isle of Man is a bit special as regards the variety of scenery on offer. The Festival is also more than just about walking. It involves telling people about the Island who may not have been here before and explaining about its unique history and culture. This is what I will be trying to get across to the visiting journalists, and the walkers themselves.’

Most popular hike this year is the same as in 2005 - the stretch from Port St.Mary around The Sound and back to Port Erin. Last year this was only offered on one day but because so many people booked to do it the organisers decided to include the walk on every one of the five days.

Tourism and Leisure Minister David Cretney said:

‘The Isle of Man has some of the most spectacular views and scenery you could find anywhere and what better way of seeing them could there be than on foot. We have developed this concept over the past three years and will be liaising with the walkers to see what further changes they would like to see.
‘We have just witnessed a marvellous two weeks of weather and racing for the TT meeting. This week we have a complete contrast but it indicates that the Island has no parameters when it comes to attractions for our visitors and local residents alike.’

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