Newsletter > Newsletter archive > February 2015

February 2015


In praise of footbridges
Footbridges are back in the news. In the centre of London two proposed bridges have hit the headlines. Thomas Hetherwick's 'Garden Bridge', which will cross the Thames to the Southbank Centre, has been heavily criticised for its spiralling costs, for restrictions on its use by groups of more than eight people, and for being closed to all cyclists and indeed anyone at all at night. Meanwhile a competition for a new footbridge from Nine Elms to Pimlico has generated a host of designs, ranging from the truly outlandish to the starkly elegant. A few of the more eyecatching designs can be seen on The Guardian website.

Footbridges really came into fashion at the millennium and some have been extraordinarily successful in capturing the imagination. The Millennium Bridge on the River Tyne has become an iconic attraction for visitors to Newcastle and Gateshead, although members of the Gateshead community may ruefully note that it was they alone who paid for it. It is firmly attached to the Gateshead bank of the river, barely touching the quay on the northern side and it is officially called the ‘Gateshead Millennium Bridge’ – although it is becoming more popularly known as the ‘Winking’ or ‘Blinking Eye’.

If there’s one thing to be learned from such bridges it is that they need to connect. The Gateshead bridge takes walkers and cyclists from the heart of Newcastle to the arts complex on the Tyne’s own ‘south bank’. Likewise London’s Millennium Bridge, which achieved notoriety thanks to its initial wobbles, links St Paul’s directly to the Tate Modern. Both have a definite purpose, and affection follows after. They also don’t pretend to be anything other than rather beautifully engineered walkways. So time will tell whether London’s ‘garden bridge’ turns out to be little more than an expensive folly.

The way pedestrians use urban streets and seek to claim them as their own is nothing new, of course. It’s a subject we explored in our Pathways book when we followed the traces of London’s ultimately doomed Pedway project. If you missed the book you can now read the Pedway chapter on the website. Fittingly the walk ends up at the Millennium Bridge, a connecting link that London’s pedestrians have taken to their heart.

Want to brush up on your hill navigation?
If you want to get away from the urban environment and start to tackle Britain’s wilder places, you might like to have a bit more confidence in navigation. If you can make your way to Cumbria’s beautiful Eden Valley over the coming Easter weekend you can spend a day with members of one of the Lake District’s Mountain Rescue Teams honing your map and compass skills. Once again we have teamed up with Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team who will provide an intensive day of navigation and hill walking skills training in small groups. The cost is £40 per person, all of which goes to the team, helping to support their valuable service to hill walkers and the local community.

The course takes place on Saturday 4th April. More details are on the Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team website. Places are limited so please book your place in advance: payment can be made with PayPal or credit/debit card.

OS footpaths survey
Thank you very much everyone who took time to complete the survey on accurate plotting of footpaths on OS maps and the possibility of turn-by-turn routing on public rights of way. Over 700 people have responded to the survey which is fantastic as it means we should have a real cross-section of opinion. The initial results look fascinating, with a high proportion expressing a degree of frustration with lack of accuracy on OS maps and quite a few willing to make some payment for detailed footpaths data. We will report back in full in March.

Village to village hiking in the Pyrenees
Hike Pyrenees are offering a wonderful week of self guided hiking between the tranquil villages of the high Pyrenees. There's a real sense of journey throughout the week as you head up the valley. The scenery is fantastic throughout the week and the route doesn’t just stick to the valley floor but takes you into beautiful high mountain terrain.

There's a choice of an easy or hard route between each village with the longer options being quite strenuous - one day reaches the peak of Musales at 2654 metres. Hike Pyrenees transport your luggage each day meaning you just have to walk with a daypack.

The hotels are all are charming with great food and facilities in traditional Pyrenean villages with narrow winding streets and Romanesque churches.

For more details visit their website, order a brochure or call Hike Pyrenees on 0208 123 5049.

Pyrenees Village to Village
- 7 nights self guided hotel to hotel walking
- Prices from £699 pp
- Includes 7 nights full board accommodation with breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal each day
- Available 10 May - 31 September
- View full itinerary

Walking along the Moselle Valley
Known for a long tradition of producing fine wines, the meandering Moselle Valley in westernmost Germany is also a fabulous destination if you’re looking for rewarding walking. 

Not only will you enjoy sweeping views along the river as it executes a series of languid loops and turns, but you will also get to savour the fruits of those who have toiled for centuries to turn the river’s steep banks into some of Europe’s most productive – and most visually arresting – vineyards.

On Inntravel’s new holiday in the Moselle Valley, you are never far from vintners tending their vines as you wander along some of the finest sections of the remarkable Moselsteig, a long-distance footpath which follows the river from Luxembourg to its confluence with the mighty Rhine in the city of Koblenz.

Lining the river are charming villages of half-timbered houses with opportunities for wine tasting at every turn, and an architectural and cultural legacy left by a history of wine-growing and trading since Roman times.    

For a wide choice of walking holidays across Europe this spring, summer and autumn, visit inntravel.co.uk or speak to Inntravel’s expert team on 01653 617034.

Meanders of the Moselle Valley
- Self-guided, hotel-to-hotel walking holiday with your luggage transported
- Prices from £680p, inc 7 nights’ B&B accommodation, 2 dinners, 1 picnic, detailed route guides & maps
- Flights extra (direct to Luxembourg or Cologne-Bonn from several UK regional airports)
- Available 1 May to 11 October 2015

Upcoming events
An Artistic Celebration of the Pennine Way is due to go on show at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes. In the year that the national trail celebrates its 50th birthday, the Museum has teamed up with a group of Dales artists to produce an exhibition of work called Pennine Ways that highlights the popular walking route using art, photography and sculpture. The exhibition at the Museum, which is owned by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, will run from February 28 to April 26.

The Scottish model of free access to the countryside will be explored at the third annual Spirit of Kinder event, celebrating Kinder Scout and the Dark Peak moors. The event comes to Edale on Saturday, April 25, at Edale Village Hall starting at 2 pm. Taking place just 12 days before the General Election, the event will also celebrate 50 years of the opening of the Pennine Way. Keynote speakers will be Chris Townsend, the British Mountaineering Council’s hill-walking ambassador, and Dave Morris, former director of Ramblers Scotland. Chris Sainty, chairman of the Pennine Way Association, will reflect on its 50th anniversary, and Ann Beedham, Sheffield author and illustrator, will give an illustrated talk on walking in the Peak in the 1920s. Admission is free and all are welcome, but as space in the hall is limited, people are advised to arrive early. A full version of the programme will be available later on the Kinder Trespass website.

Wainwright: A Love Letter to the Lakeland Fells is a major exhibition for all those who love the English Lakes, exploring Wainwright’s world, his walks and his unique method of recording them. It will take place at Keswick Museum & Art Gallery, 23 May - 8 November 2015. The exhibition promises original artefacts, film and interactive exhibits to recreate Wainwright’s early life and reveal his unique drawing and mapping methods. The museum is working with Kendal Archive Centre who have recently acquired a large archive of Wainwright’s material and the exhibition will feature original drawings, letters and manuscripts from this collection.

A partial eclipse of the sun
There’s a solar eclipse on Friday, 20 March. Whilst we’re too far south for totality, the moon will cover up to about 90% of the sun when viewed from the UK. There’s an eclipse calculator that can be tailored for various UK locations at www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/uk. For Cardiff, for instance, partial eclipse begins at 08.23, reaches a maximum at 09.28, and it’s all over at 10.38. Information about this and other solar and lunar eclipses is also available from Eclipses Online at the HM Nautical Almanac Office.

Charity treks near Annapurna
Departing 25th September, First Steps Himalaya, a charitable trust supporting early years education in rural Nepal, is offering a small group trek over the stunning Annapurna Range with three different options: a 13 day trek to Jomsom, a 20 day trek to Pokhara via Pun Hill or the entire Annapurna Circuit including Annapurna Base Camp as a 24 day trek. They are also offering a 10 day trek to Pun Hill and Annapurna Base Camp as a further option. The group will have an excellent guide and team of porters and there are built in rest days in the itinerary. www.firststepshimalaya.org

Free draw
Country Walks invite you to enter their free draw to win a memorable walking weekend for two in the Cotswolds worth £478. 2 nights - 22/23 May staying at 15th-century Wesley House, Winchcombe. Self-guided walks pack includes route directions, commentaries and map. To enter go to www.country-walks.com