Newsletter > Newsletter archive > May 2016

May 2016

Ancient dykes and ditches
The British Isles are criss-crossed with old dykes and ditches, many of unknown origin and age. In England in particular there are numerous earthworks stretching across the landscape, some very substantial, with deep ditches and ramparts that may have been topped with defensive wooden structures.

Many of these enigmatic monuments have Anglo-Saxon names and were therefore assumed to date from the 'dark ages', perhaps erected to defend against invading Viking armies. Some, such as Offa's Dyke - the only one credited to an individual apart from the Roman Hadrian's Wall - are certainly Anglo-Saxon.

But elsewhere excavations have suggested that the Anglo-Saxon names may be misleading. The structures are much older, dating from the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain around 410AD. The construction of these dykes would have coincided with the re-fortification of some Iron Age hill forts. So they could be symptoms of a country disintegrating into deep-seated tribal factionalism, rather as happened much more recently with Yugoslavia when its central power-base collapsed.

In this month's Dykes and Ditches chapter from our Pathways book we explore a number of dykes and ditches, their history and some of the folklore surrounding them. We take a walk along a section of Offa's Dyke on the border between England and Wales, and consider what this massive linear fortification may have meant to people on both sides of the barrier.

Win a walking holiday with Inntravel
If you like photography and walking, then why not enter Inntravel's 2016 Moments Photographic Competition? One lucky winner and a friend will win a walking holiday-cum-photo-assignment to Germany.

This time next year, you could be enjoying A Walk in the Black Forest, camera in hand, looking for picturesque viewpoints across the atmospheric wooded hills, or of peaceful glades beneath the evergreen canopy.

To enter all you have to do is send Inntravel a photo that encapsulates a Slow Moment, captured in an evocative image - and described in a few equally evocative words. It could be from a recent holiday or simply from your explorations round about where you live - something that made you stop in your tracks to look.

Each month one winner will receive a £200 voucher towards an Inntravel holiday, with all the monthly winners and the best runners-up being entered into the draw for the main prize at the end of the year.

For more details on Inntravel's walking holidays in Germany, see or speak to their expert team on 01653 61703401653 61703.01653 6170

Encounters with Alfred Wainwright
If you are an enthusiastic gatherer of the 'Wainwright' hills or have trudged along one of his long distance routes you may want to learn a bit more about the man. A new book, 'Encounters with Wainwright', contains 120 accounts of people who met or knew Alfred Wainwright, spread over 240 pages and with over 250 photographs, many previously unpublished. The stories range from very brief encounters to accounts from those who knew him over many years. Together they provide a wealth of new information and an opportunity to consider Wainwright afresh in the light of their first-hand experiences.

The book has been compiled and edited by David Johnson, editor of Footsteps (the magazine of The Wainwright Society) and is the result of extensive research over the last three years. The book is published by the Wainwright Society and all profits will go to Animal Rescue Cumbria, the charity that Alfred and Betty Wainwright supported passionately.

A Day in the Dales
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is teaming up with Heart Research UK this summer to stage a Day in the Dales, a fund-raising walking event centred on the iconic Three Peaks. Three sponsored walks on June 18 of varying lengths are being organised with all the money raised being split between the charity and the vital work of caring for the footpath network around  Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

As well as the traditional Three Peaks Challenge Walk, taking in 25 miles over the summits of the Three Peaks, there is a shorter Valleys Walk of 15 miles up to the iconic Ribblehead viaduct and back along the flanks of Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough. The Family Nature Discovery Walk is a 5km stroll along the banks of the river and through Horton village with activities for children along the way.

Festival round-up
The Swanage & Purbeck Walking Festival is offering a selection of walks over nine days from 17 - 25 September. There should be something to suit everyone in this event taking in the beautiful Isle of Purbeck, the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast and South West Coastal path. The Festival, now in its seventh year, has adapted to its new time-slot of mid-September and a packed programme will enable those taking part to see parts of the area that are usually inaccessible. Walks commemorating both World Wars, a new ‘Family Bug Walk’, quarrying, shipwrecks, smuggling, fossils, literature, art, photography and ghost stories are all on the menu.

Two walks using one of the world's fastest growing fitness techniques have been added to the annual Rosedale Walking Festival. Nordic walking sessions, for beginners and more experienced practitioners, will feature for the first time at this year's event, which takes place on the weekend of 25 and 26 June. Participants can choose from a selection of eight walks over the weekend, including a meander round the local teashops, a Pilgrims' Way walk, a short ramble for families with young children, and walks focusing on the rich wildlife and history of the dale. Places range from £1 for the family walk to £12 for the teashop walk (which includes refreshments and lunch at various tea rooms along the route); most cost £4. Children take part for free.

Kendal Mountain Festival is reaching out beyond its popular November event to bring the big screen to open-air locations in the Lake District this June and July. Framed by Cumbria's dramatic natural scenery, audiences can expect to be wowed by breathtaking adventure films from around the world. Each evening will also feature top speakers plus live music, food and drink. The events are at Grasmere on 24/25 June and Ullswater on 23 July and, best of all, there's no admission charge.

From 3rd-18th September, the Guernsey Autumn Walking Festival offers a choice of over 50 guided walks to explore the islands and learn from local experts about their history, flora and fauna. Organised by Bailiwick of Guernsey Guild of Accredited Guides the walks range from rambles through the island's interior landscape to exploring rugged coastal paths. Prices start from £7 per person per walk and are led by Guernsey's gold and silver accredited guides. The walks vary in difficulty and length (ranging from one to six hours) and are suitable for all ages and abilities.

Member news
Roger Mechan is once again on pilgrimage. He is walking his fourth Camino to Santiago de Compostela on completion of which he will have clocked up 2500 miles of trekking. As he enters his seventieth year, by his own admission each step is becoming a little more difficult. There is method in his madness however. By the end of the year he will have raised £250,000 for his local hospice and Help for Heroes. You can read his blogs and view videos of the treks at his two fundraising sites, and