Isle of Wight Spring Walking Festival Success

With more volunteer walk leaders, an increase of 100 miles added to the routes and an increase in participants to the award-winning Isle of Wight Spring Walking Festival, the event is being hailed a success by organisers.

The Isle of Wight Walking Festival is a bi-annual event, allowing volunteer walk leaders to proudly show off the history, fauna and flora of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, one of only 7 in the UK.

In May, the Walking Festival was presented with the ‘Made on the Isle of Wight’ award by the local Chamber of Commerce, rewarding homegrown success for a business with a product that has a broad reach and enhances the reputation of the Isle of Wight.

Amy Summers, Sustainable Travel, Trade and Exhibitions Manager for Visit Isle of Wight said:

‘We’re delighted with the success of the Spring 2023 Isle of Wight Walking Festival with 86 walks delivered in total. We welcomed 1,100 walkers over the 9-day festival, which saw 44% of walkers from the mainland and overseas.

‘This event wouldn’t be possible without the army of volunteers who support the event and become walk leaders, my thanks go to every single one of them for making the Spring Walking Festival a great success.’

The popularity of the Isle of Wight Walking Festival continues to grow as organisers welcomed new walk leaders, keen to share their passions.

Rachel Richards recently qualified as a fitness professional and offered to lead a series of women only walks. Rachel says she was glad of the opportunity to lead walks during the 9 day Spring Walking Festival:

‘I know how research shows that providing opportunities and dedicated space for women to be active is proven to increase women’s participation rates in activity.  This reflects my own experiences; I feel more confident and comfortable when in ladies-only groups.  There are so many social and physical barriers to women becoming active, and yet movement and activity is so important to the health and well-being of women particularly as they grow older.

Sue Lowday hosted a walk about famed author Charles Dickens and his time in Bonchurch:

‘I ran four walks and they were all fully booked very quickly. I was delighted with the response. It is a real pleasure to share the extraordinary history of Bonchurch and its talented residents.

‘I was very pleased when Ian Dickens, the great great grandson of Charles Dickens booked to join the walk on Sunday with his wife Anne. It was a bit daunting, however we had a chat beforehand and we agreed that if he would like to embellish any of the stories, he was welcome.’ 

Celebrating joint 70th birthdays, friend Jacqui and Heather led 7 walks covering 70 miles, aiming to raise £700 for Shanklin Theatre on the way.

The final total raised was £1400, and Jacqui and Heather said they had enjoyed raising the money by doing something different:

‘It was great to enable walkers, including island residents, to discover different areas of the Isle of Wight.  Some even asked for the details of the walks so that their friends and family could also enjoy these areas. Many walkers had booked two or three walks with us and we were happy to see familiar faces in the morning at the start of walks. 

‘The walkers have been very supportive of our Challenge 70. They really like the novel idea and the diversity of the walks. Of course, the excellent weather and spectacular countryside was the icing on the cake!’

The Isle of Wight Walking Festival also promotes the independent event Mountbatten Walk The Wight, which celebrated a bumper year for walkers with nearly 8000 participants helping to raise over £340,000 for the local hospice and it’s services.

Attention now moves to the Isle of Wight Autumn Walking Festival, which takes place between 7-15 October, shining a light on the beauty of the Island when the leaves on the trees have turned varying shades of red and it becomes a chance to see how the Island moves with the seasons.

Volunteer walk leaders are being sought for routes for the Autumn Walking festival in October and next year’s Spring Walking festival.

If you would like to show off your favourite part of the Isle of Wight, or have an interest that you would like to share with like-minded people, then email organisers at the walking festival:

The Isle of Wight Spring Walking Festival will celebrate 25 years next year, returning Saturday May 11 to Sunday May 19, 2024.