ENTHUSIASTIC walkers and those who enjoy exploring the outdoors at a gentle, leisurely pace are being urged to spring into action and join in Kilkenny’s first ever Walking Festival, an exciting programme of outdoor events launched by Environment, Community and Local Government Minister, Phil Hogan, TD, and which runs in the city and county throughout the month of April.
Details of the Kilkenny Walking Festival were confirmed today as Kilkenny County Council officially opened its re-developed Lacken Walk, the latest phase in the development of the Nore Linear Park which follows the River Nore through the city providing 7km of pathway for walkers to enjoy.
The festival is about lots more than just walking and the organisers want enthusiasts of all levels, families, groups and individuals to pack a picnic, join in a walk in the bluebells or a Scavenger Hunt, enjoy walks along the riverbank and barbecues, feast on local Lavistown sausages, Highbank Apple Juice and learn all about foraging in the wild.
The new festival is a collaboration between Trail Kilkenny, which has been championing the development, management and promotion of a range of high quality walking, cycling and other leisure trails and the Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership which works hand in hand with local communities encouraging, facilitating and promoting more active lifestyles.
Angela Campion, Chairperson of Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership, said: “I am delighted to see the range of opportunities available for people to be physically active in the natural environment, whether it’s exploring the Nore Valley or discovering hidden trails in the City. We look forward to meeting new people out walking over the course of the Festival – walking for health, walking for fun and hopefully walking for life.”
The Festival includes a programme of over 50 events for families, walkers and holiday makers, all spanning the Easter holidays and beyond.
The Bluebell Walk Series featuring Jenkinstown, Castlecomer Discovery Park and Mount Juliet.
Scavenger Hunts at Castlecomer Discovery Park each Saturday. Hunt for and collect a list of natural items in the woodlands. Great fun for all while learning about the plants and animals of the Demesne. This is a guided activity and pre-booking is essential.
Shankill Castle Garden Walk: A guided Garden walk through the landscaped gardens, looking at unusual varieties of plants and trees and taking in the history of the surroundings. Runs each Saturday and Sunday throughout the festival.
Explore the River Nore with Mary White on her Riverbank Ecotrails and Foraging Walks
Community Walking Leader Training: a weekend of training primarily aimed at people wishing to lead a walking group or promote walking in the community or workplace.
The varied programme will suit walkers of all levels and interests and includes everything from walks with the estate gardener at picturesque Mount Juliet to a picnic and guided bluebell walk in Jenkinstown Woods to dawn and dusk chorus walks and foraging walks along the riverbank in the region.
Simon Walton, Chairman of Trail Kilkenny, said: “Trail Kilkenny is delighted to be collaborating with Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership to deliver this exciting new event. In addition to highlighting some of the broad range of attractions in County Kilkenny, people participating in the events will have the opportunity to explore other trails such as the Kilkenny Food Trail or the Kilkenny Craft Trail. We are encouraging the local community to get out and explore the riches on our doorsteps and for visitors to come and join us for what will be an activity filled April 2012.”
Many of the Festival‘s events are free and those that aren’t are keenly priced to encourage participation. Family tickets are available for lots of events some priced at just €10. Most events need to be pre-booked, numbers for some events are limited and so early booking is essential and now open.
Visitors to the region are also reminded that competitive stay-over packages are available through Kilkenny Tourism.
The Kilkenny Walking Festival Programme is available from the Tourist Information Office in the city or to download from www.trailkilkenny.ie