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Loyalty awards on offer for Walking Festival regulars 19 September 2007

Visitors who regularly travel to the Island to take part in the June or October Walking Festivals are to be presented with loyalty awards – courtesy of the Department of Tourism and Leisure.

The Department member with responsibility for events, Quintin Gill MHK explained:

‘The Festival Committee felt it would like to recognise the contribution made to the Isle of Man’s tourist industry by those people who return each year to support us. Consequently, with effect from this year’s October Festival, anyone who attends at least one festival a year for three years will qualify for a special award. It will be presented at one of the social functions which are held during the Festival.’

Next month’s weekend event is centred on the south of the Island from October 11th to 14th. A total of 15 walks are on offer over the three days with the evening entertainment featuring a Manx night, an evening of jazz and a ceilidh with the Calor Gas Band.

The Walking Festival – and the Island itself – is expected to receive valuable publicity in the United States following a visit by members of The American Travel Writers Association.

The Association is holding its annual conference in Manchester between October 1st and 14th with those attending being offered the chance of visiting various locations in the North. As a result, two groups of five will be travelling to the Island in the week leading up to the festival with their itinerary including a guided walk from Port St.Mary to the Sound. In addition, two other writers are booked in to take part in the Festival itself.

Even as final plans are being made for October the scene has already moved ahead to next summer with preliminary details revealed for the 2008 June Festival. Dates are from June 22nd to 28th with a new format which sees fewer walks available each day but spread throughout the Island.

Festival Organiser Mick Salmon said:

‘The feedback we have been getting is that while walkers are appreciative of the huge variety of hikes available each day many feel we are trying to do too much and might be better off having fewer walks but with more people on each one. This, they feel, would add to the Festival atmosphere. We are happy to listen to their comments and as a result have now scheduled four walks a day, each one in a different part of the Island and with varying degrees of difficulty. For instance, on the opening day – Monday – there are rambles in areas such as Ballaugh, Port St.Mary and Port Erin, Glen Mona and Cornaa, and Peel. We have scheduled the walks in such a way that, if they wish, participants can cover a separate area each day throughout the week.’

The June 2008 event sees three new walks added to the schedule. One is described as the ‘Ramsey Boundary Walk’ and the five miles route meanders around the outskirts of the town taking in Glen Auldyn and the Albert Tower before entering Ballure Glen and finishing off with a walk along the beach.

Slightly shorter is the trip from Fenella Beach in Peel climbing to Corrin’s Tower and back again. An added attraction is the fact that walkers will be able to go inside the tower for a look around.

Longest of the new walks, which is on Thursday’s programme, is the eight miles journey from Crosby and finishing at Greeba Bridge after following part of the Millennium Way and passing through Slieumaggle Plantation and The Beary. This is described as a long hard climb into the heart of the Island’s hills.

Mick said:

‘We note the booking trends with the different walks and try to maintain a balance between including new treks while retaining the old favourites. If you’ll pardon the pun you can’t stand still with events of this nature and the Festival must always look ahead and not get stale.’

In addition to the individual walks on offer each day the more experienced campaigners have the opportunity of completing the 95 mile coastal path. This is only for experienced walkers as around 20 miles will be covered each day.

For more information call Department of Tourism & Leisure Events on 644644 or visit www.isleofmanwalking.com

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