Old favourites such as a circuit from Llanthony Abbey and the Llanbedr Horseshoe were joined this year by new routes in the Black Mountains and Bannau Brycheiniog as well as walks with specific topics, such as a guided walk around the Glanusk Estate. All tastes and abilities were catered for – so you could learn Welsh, write poetry, listen to a musical history of the canal or trek all day across the tops of this wonderful area enjoying the scenery and an explanation from your local guide.
As well as attracting visitors from all over Britain the Festival also appealed to many locals who have looked at the hills and mountains, but have not ventured up onto them. The Festival gave them a chance to do so, in the company of others, knowing that they were in safe hands. This year also saw the introduction of other activities available in the Black Mountains with a successful ‘Paddle & Pedal’, where participants learnt to canoe on the Wye followed by a guided cycle ride from Hay.
In fact the walking festival has become so popular that David Thomas, Festival Organiser, said “The demand for walks was so great during the booking period that we had to create 200 extra spaces and even then some walkers were unable to book on some of the most popular walks.”
But walkers were not the only group catered for in this eclectic festival. There was a dance with local Jazz Big Band ‘Revival’, a Twmpath, with local Band ‘Juice’ and a talk by the renowned mountaineer, Doug Scott. All these events packed the Clarence Hall in Crickhowell. A number of smaller events were also laid on – ‘Crickhowell Choral Society’ gave a concert/open rehearsal on St David’s Day and the local schools were represented by ‘Hot Henry’s Jazz’ band (King Henry’s Abergavenny) and ‘A Forte’ Celtic Folk Group (Crickhowell High School) at concerts during the week. Craft and cookery demonstrations, film shows and a special pub quiz for walkers completed the entertainment.
You could also learn new skills. Kevin Walker was again fully subscribed for his courses on Map Reading and Navigation or you could have practised navigation or First Aid on the hills with the experts. Local history again featured with Chris Barber giving a talk about Clydach Gorge on the evening before his guided walk of the area.
With first class accommodation, great eating places and super shops, visitors to the area really enjoyed a week to remember.
This year the Festival raised money for the charity ‘Help for Heroes’. The flagship strenuous walk, led by the RAF, was a fully sponsored walk, but most other walkers & event goers also contributed generously. Money is still coming in but is already approaching £5,000.
The Crickhowell Walking Festival is fast becoming a major feature of, not only the region, but also the walking festivals calendar. Next year the Festival will run from 26th February to 5th March. The programme will be published in early December – send your details to CRiC (Beaufort Street Crickhowell, NP8 1BN) to get your programme posted to you.
The message for next year is BOOK EARLY!!