May 2020 will see the 16th Malvern Walking Festival take place in and around the Malvern Hills – officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The festival has grown from four walks over a long weekend in October 2005, to a nine-day event in May – between Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 – offering some 55 walks. During the 2019 festival, more than 1,200 walks were booked by over 600 walkers, making it one of the largest festivals of its type in the country.
The choice of walks is wide, from short local strolls to long distance multi-day walks, including morning, afternoon, evening and all-day walks. Many have specific themes: History & Archaeology, Geology & Quarrying, Radar, Canals, Brewing & Cider and Nature & Gardens, plus many others.
Each walk is graded from Gentle to Strenuous, so no one need let themselves in for more (or less) than they can handle. For the very fit, there’s the Malvern Hills – End to End & Back (18 miles). Even better (or worse, depending on your point of view!) is the 31-mile Worcestershire Way in a Day. If that’s too daunting, there’s the option this year of walking the Worcestershire Way’s 31 miles over a three-day period.
A feature of the Malvern Walking Festival over the years has been the six-day walk and 2020 is no exception. The festival area of Worcestershire is rich in the number of foundations established by the Benedictine monks, some of them dating back 1,200 years. The six-day walk of 57 miles gives an opportunity to learn about the key roles of the Benedictine monks in creating and running major seats of religion and learning.
It starts from Mucknell Abbey, Stoulton, and continues on to abbeys at Pershore, Tewkesbury and Malvern, finishing at Worcester Cathedral. The walk has got strong support from church leaders, including the Bishop of Worcester, in pioneering an exciting new walking trail.
Commenting on the programme, Festival Chairman Bob Baldwin said: “The Malvern Walking Festival has grown into one of the largest festivals in the country and its success is largely due to the voluntary help of the many walk leaders who take part, and the support of local businesses. Hopefully all our efforts will attract many new visitors to Malvern to sample our wonderful town, Hills and AONB.”
For more information, visit the festival website at www.malvernwalking.uk. Information is also available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and brochures are available in local Tourist Information Centres.