Now in its eighth year, the Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival (Saturday, 4th – Sunday 12th May) will be marking the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s coronation with a new circular walk around the Ironbridge Gorge Museums showing some of the locations of Royal visits since 1900. These will include a plaque unveiled by Her Majesty in 1967.
On the same day, Bank Holiday Monday, 6th May, there will also be a challenging 14 mile walk taking in a section of the aptly named Monarch’s Way, a long distance path following the escape route taken by Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester.
Larger than ever before, the nine-day festival will feature 40 free guided walks in and around the glorious Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site covering a range of interests and abilities from family outings to long distance hikes. Some take in historic trails and local flora and fauna, while others explore the mining legacy and the part played by The Gorge in the Industrial Revolution, making the festival both more challenging for the experienced walker, and interesting for those wanting to find out more about this beautiful area’s remarkable history.
The walks are graded into four levels of difficulty ranging from a gentle two-hour family treasure hunt with two routes, one pushchair and wheelchair friendly, up to a strenuous, 15 mile circular hike over the Wrekin, ideal for more experienced walkers happy with steep climbs and rough terrain. For the more adventurous there are also longer walks around the South Telford Heritage Trail and a circular tour of the Gorge to discover the history of the river bridges.
New outings include The Sabbath Walks on 7th May, which takes in the coppices established by the Quaker Darby family to pass a Sunday afternoon and an introduction to tree identification on 8th May looking at the trees which play an important role in The Gorge in the 21st century.
Other highlights include a ‘splendidly spooky’ stroll around a candlelit woodland trail for families; guided bird walks with local ornithologist Glenn Bishton and a wildlife and environmental photography outing with technique and species advice.
All walks are free but with places limited to between 15 and 20 people, pre-booking is essential; well behaved dogs on a lead are welcome on most walks but please check before booking. To reserve a place or request a copy of the programme contact the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre by email at email@example.com or call 01952 433424; details can also be found on www.visitironbridge.co.uk/walkingfestival.