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Wirral ready to welcome walkers for Walking Festival

25th April 2013

Categories: News

Wirral is ready to put its best foot forward as the final preparations are put in place for the first ever Wirral Walking Festival next month.

Organisers promised there would be something for everyone among the 100 or so walks planned during the month-long festival, regardless of age, experience or ability and the schedule bears that out.

Even on the very first day of the festival on 1st May there is a walk for parents and their baby or toddler (Buggy Park Fitness, Ashton Park, West Kirby), and two Health Walks, short leisurely walks for people of all abilities done at their own pace and suitable for people with walking aids and mobility scooters, taking place at Port Sunlight and West Kirby.

In Birkenhead Park, the Stroke Association are hosting a fundraising sponsored walk, while for history and wildlife enthusiasts, there is a rare opportunity to join local industrial archaeologist Roy Forshaw on Hilbre Islands for a walking history of the islands looking at the salt works and inside some of the Victorian buildings not usually accessible to the public.

People will get the chance to learn about the work of Mersey Docks and Harbour Board and the inhabitants of the Hilbre islands from the monks from Chester Diocese to the Landlords of the Seagull Inn! The event starts on the main island and finishes on Middle Eye and will include an update of geophysical surveys undertaken by Oxford University.

And that is just the first day – there is something planned on all of the remaining 30 days of May as part of the Wirral Walking Festival!

Advance bookings for many of the walks have been good, but there are still some places available to book in advance, even for those early on in the festival. For many others, there is no need to book - you can simply turn up on the day and take part.

Other highlights of the festival include a series of walks to mark the 40th anniversary of Wirral Country Park, one of the first designated Country Parks in Britain, and walks organised by the Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society in this, their 125th year of existence.

This year, the festival also incorporates the Wirral Coastal Walk, which attracts more than 5,000 people to the 15 mile route, on Sunday 19th May.

Cllr Chris Meaden, Wirral Council Cabinet member for Culture, Tourism and Leisure, said: “Wirral’s coast and countryside has for a long time attracted walkers from all over the area and beyond, but this is the first time the Council has joined together with local groups to put together a dedicated festival of walking.

“It promises to be fantastic, with something taking place every single day during the month of May. It is fitting that the inaugural walking festival takes place when the Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society celebrates its 125th anniversary. They have been instrumental in campaigning to protect and maintain many paths and public rights of way for all those years.

“I hope many people from all over the country come to the Visit Wirral website and find out what we have planned over the course of the month and find something that takes their fancy. We might not be able to guarantee the weather, but we can definitely guarantee they will feel welcome.”

A brochure containing full details of all the 2013 Wirral Walking Festival events is available at www.visitwirral.com/walkingfestival

 

For further information, a fuller account of the geophysical surveys carried out on Hilbre Islands by Oxford University, accompanies this article below

Archaeologists help reveal Hilbre's industrial past

Archaeologists from the University of Oxford have been working on Hilbre Island recently in an effort to reveal hidden secrets about the island's past.

The team were keen to uncover new details about the salt works industrial sites on the island. The salt works left behind interesting earthworks that have been painstakingly mapped and surveyed by dedicated volunteers for a number of years, but the team of experts from Oxford were here to carry out geophysical surveys to further trace evidence of activity.

Survey organiser, Dean Paton said: "We have attempted to further investigate these areas through targeted resistivity and magnetometry surveys, which can help reveal extant building remains and sites of burning associated with salt-making activities. There's no treasure in the traditional sense on the island, but plenty of industrial history to discover, which is a genuine privilege to work on."

Roy Forshaw, from Merseyside Industrial Heritage Society, has already surveyed most of the island buildings and salt works over several years using a combination of hand measuring and modern computer aided design software.

Proceeds raised from the guided walks which Roy is leading on Hilbre Island as part of the 2013 Wirral Walking Festival will assist in the purchase cost of equipment to further assist Roy in his work.

He said: “The walks will look at the history and heritage of the islands, much of which has only recently been accurately surveyed with the support of Wirral Council, the Korec Group, based in Crosby, who provided a free aerial survey of the islands using a miniature drone aircraft and from penmap.com who have assisted in providing a computer and software which will allow continued precision surveying and further accurate interpretation of the islands. The walks will also include a look inside some of the Victorian buildings, something not normally available to the public, and also the opportunity to try some GPS surveying”, says Roy.

Wirral Council and the Friends of Hilbre have supported this continuing research and Jo Hanik, Senior Ranger for Wirral’s Coast, is keen to point out that whilst academic field study on the islands is supported, metal detecting, excavation and removal of any material on the islands is strictly prohibited under the Local Nature Reserve byelaws and that this also applies to Wirral’s other parks and areas of coast and foreshore.

For details of the History of the Hilbre Islands walks and other 2013 Wirral Walking Festival Walks please visit www.visitwirral.com

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