In my recent post about Walking Festivals I’ve highlighted only a few of those which take place in the UK each year. Research into the topic resulted in a substantial list of UK walking festivals so I thought it might be useful and interesting to explore each festival and venue in greater depth. I’ll only touch upon the things, however ’off the beaten (tourist) track’ and which I find personally of interest.
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival claims to be the biggest Walking Festival in the UK. The island is only some 23 miles by 13, yet boasts 500 miles of footpaths and 30 miles of Heritage Coastline and over half the island is designated as an Area of Outstanding Beauty. 300 walks, designed to suit all ages and abilities, are featured in the 2011 Walking Festival, which takes place between 7-13 May and is hosted by Seaview Wildlife Encounter. The festival kicks off on 7 May with a non-stop Round the Island Walks (around the entire Coastal Path) 7 May. It’s 72 miles and will take 24 hours to completes, so it requires stamina and would-be entrants will be vetted for fitness!
In addition to the May Festival, there’s also an ‘Autumn Walking Weekend’ on the island between 21 – 24 October 2011.
Isle of Wight Estuaries Project: The Medina Estuary
An estuary is a body of coastal water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. This creates a complex interaction between a rich diversity of both salt and fresh water flora and fauna. Estuaries traditionally have attracted human settlement, providing sheltered harbours, transport, trade routes and natural resources for industry. Thus, estuaries are important on a variety of levels.
The Isle of Wight Estuaries Project is about managing the island’s estuaries. The project’s present focus is the Medina Estuary and the Western Yar Estuary. The Medina Estuary is characterised by its 66 hectares of mudflats, which support shellfish, algae and also locally and regionally important species of worm. These are sources of food for both fish and bird.
Archaeologically, such environments are also ‘treasure troves’ of fossils (says Ann, who has big boxes of fossils under her bed). Hearths, uncovered during brickmaking operations at Werrar, associate the estuary with late Mesolithic/early Neolithic flintwork and some prehistoric implements, including a Palaeolithic handaxe have been found along the length of the river. Evidence of Roman occupation is represented by finds of coins and pottery in the muds.
The hulks of 20 vessels are recorded on aerial photographs as well as the sites of 7 brickworks.
For information about maritime archaeology (including underwater archaeology) in the Solent region visit the website of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology
There are circular walks round both the Medina and Yar Estuaries. Free guides in pdf format are available for download here: Estuary Walking Guides.
You might like to take in, or even stay at, the Medina Valley Centre on your visit. From their site/blog:
“Medina Valley Centre Ltd. is a non-profit making organisation with charitable status (No. 236153). We were established as an outdoor activity centre in 1963 and have taught field studies and environmental education since 1977.
We have also been involved in long term monitoring since the development of field studies and environmental education. The field study tutors each have their own research interests and are all involved in areas of environmental and educational research.
Medina Valley Centre has been recognised as an Eco-Centre as it aims to demonstrate key concepts of sustainability”.