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Welcome to the North Devon and Exmoor Walking and Cycling Festival 3rd to the 11th of May 2007

How to book | Preparation | Calendar of Events

Walking and cycling are increasingly being lauded as the way to a healthier life, a great way of de-stressing, finding like-minded friends and simply getting some good old-fashioned fresh air.

The festival has a plentiful supply of very fresh air, confirmed by all the mosses and lichens growing everywhere you look. During the festival you will be with like-minded people and our friendly and informative guides. You will follow routes through some of the best and most varied countryside this country has to offer. These include the only International Biosphere Reserve in this country, a coastline to die for, being a Heritage Coast and Marine Nature Reserve and the landward side being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Then there is the small and perfectly formed Exmoor National Park and off the coast lies the gem of Lundy Island , unspoilt by the modern world.

Every outing has been carefully chosen to show off the local countryside to its best. During the festival the outings are further enhanced by marvellous shows of wild flowers, often taking your breath away with the wonderful array of colours. This year the festival is covering all Exmoor and North Devon down to the Cornish border. There are 52 guided walks and 6 guided rides to choose from, of which there are 17 new medium to longer walks, 14 new short walks (see below) and 4 new rides.

As usual, there is a choice of speciality outings. These include a walk with alpacas, close-up photography in great surroundings, another popular map-reading course with a linked treasure hunt to try your new skills. Then there's the flora and fauna walks in the Biosphere, challenging mountain bike rides, the Cycling Circus and of course, the ever popular Lundy Island .

After each festival I ask for feedback from the participants and I do my best to take note and incorporate your wishes. This year I have done this in several ways. There were plenty of requests for shorter walks and so I have included some walks which are part of the ‘Walking the way to Health' initiative (whi.org.uk), with two each day. There are more midrange length walks and still plenty of longer walks. There are some challenging mountain bike rides through Exmoor and Forestry Commission land coupled with some easier safe rides. I have also done my best to avoid start points which involve car parking charges, but where they do, please buy enough time to cover a delay during the walk. The timings of each outing is estimated and does assume time for stops and sandwiches.

I also had comments on the varying paces of the walks. Obviously the guides have to guide at the speed of the slowest within the group. To help reduce this problem I have added a ‘pace' criteria to each walk to help you choose the brisker walk from the more sedate one.

I am a great believer in sustainable tourism. This is where the visitor does not spoil the countryside they come to enjoy and are given the opportunity to give something back to ensure its health and the health of the communities that help maintain it. To this end each festival has included a pay-back scheme which is included in the ticket price for each outing. This is 50p a ticket, from which you would need to opt-out if you did not want to donate. The amount raised in 2005 was £256 which was given to the AONB rangers work. You are most welcome to donate more.

We very much appreciate this donation which helps keep the rights of way network in a good condition. I would also like to thank our sponsors, without whom it would be difficult to provide this festival, now in its sixth year.

The outings have a maximum number of walkers and riders per guide, after which the outing tickets become unavailable. Please book your tickets as soon as you can. If you leave it late, you risk not being able to go on your chosen outings. You cannot turn up at an outing without a ticket as you risk being turned away or the outing may have been cancelled by me because I saw it had too few takers. I cancel low subscribed outings at least one week before the festival and encourage those affected on to other well-subscribed outings. Please book on to every outing you choose – even the free ones, and before it is too late!

I look forward to meeting you at the free Celebration Evening or on the outings I manage to catch up with during the festival. Until then…

Bryan Cath
Walking and Cycling Festival Co-ordinator
bryan@westcountrywalks.co.uk or www.walkcyclenorthdevon.co.uk
+44 (0)1271 88 31 31

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