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All set for the Island’s fourth June Walking Festival 20 June 2007

The Isle of Man’s June Walking Festival notches up its fourth birthday next week when Tourism Minister Adrian Earnshaw will officially welcome participants from throughout the UK and further afield.

Bookings which are still coming in, include two from Holland as well as participants from the United States and South Africa. The UK is, of course, well represented with visitors arriving from, among other areas, West Yorkshire, Suffolk, Colchester, Oxford and Motherwell with the largest single representation coming in the shape of 20 walkers from a club at Chelmsford in Essex.

Said Mr Earnshaw:

‘We couldn’t have more of a contrast between two of our major June festivals. We have just seen two weeks of high speed competition on the TT Course and now it is the turn of a more relaxed pastime as our walking visitors enjoy travelling through our countryside at a more sedate pace. Although there are several similar festivals being held around the British Isles many walkers consider the variety offered by the Isle of Man is unique and return each year. I think one of the reasons behind the event’s success is the fact we listen to feedback from walkers and are willing to try new ideas.’

This point was borne out by Festival Organiser Mick Salmon who said the committee had reviewed the schedule of walks on offer and decided to introduce a new selection. This decision had been vindicated as three of the new hikes had proved to be among the most popular.

Last year’s favourite – the stretch from Port St.Mary to Port Erin, taking in the Chasms and the coastline at the southern end of the Island – is again at the top of the list. However, not far behind are the new offerings – the Laxey and Snaefell Mines walk; the one involving the Bungalow, Snaefell and Millennium Way, and the third which crosses the Ayres and visits Andreas and Bride. Four of the more experienced long distance campaigners have signed-up for the tough 96 miles Coastal Walk.

Local residents are also invited to join the walks and Mick Salmon still has vacancies for a few or assistant guides.

Said Mick:

‘If you know your way around the Isle of Man it is an excellent way of getting out in the fresh air and ‘selling’ your Island to the walkers in your charge. A lot of enduring friendships have been made through the Festival and I am sure anyone with time to spare will find it very rewarding to become a part of the organisation and help educate our visitors to the natural beauty which surrounds them.’

A busy social life awaits participants. Events include a Manx Evening, concerts by jazz bands and the Lon Dhoo Male Voice Choir, a quiz night and the traditional ceilidh at the Villa Marina to bring down the curtain.

As one Festival concludes the organisers start planning for the next, in October. This was trialled for the first time last year and the committee says that, while bookings are not yet being taken for the autumn, the number of advance enquiries received is very encouraging.

• Registration night for this month’s event is Sunday June 24 with a variety of walks available each day from June 25-29. Anyone interested in becoming a leader or assistant leader is invited to telephone Mick Salmon on 621520 or 418961.

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