What we know for certain is that the 2023 Ross WalkingFestival is bigger and better than ever before, with a really diverse programme of special interest walks for all abilities. The aim of the Festival is to promote local walking for both local people and to encourage greater spend in the town and surrounding area from visitors to Ross-on-Wye. Clearly those from further afield are going to spend more, with food and accommodation; but all visitors will no doubt be tempted by some of our lovely shops, coffee houses and activities. However, spreading the word and attracting people from further afield is also more challenging –we use as wide a range of marketing and advertising as we can; as well as trying to create a programme that will grab the attention of people who possibly do not know the area; and we have the support of the national network of Walkers are Welcome of which we are a long-standing accredited town.
As a Festival organising team we are so lucky to have a pool of really knowledgeable and enthusiastic walk leaders to draw on. They have real specialisms/ interests in a diversity of things and this knowledge makes going on a guided walk so much more satisfying and fun. A few years ago I joined one of the Festival history walks – exploring the lanes and alleyways of Ross – so full of little stories and annecdotes about things from the past, that makes me appreciate so much more everytime I am in town!
As a Walkers are Welcome town one of our challenges is to try to use and promote local public transport – use it or lose it! For the Ross area this is a particular challenge, but the new Daffodil line every 2 hours from Ross to Ledbury via the little villages does open up lots of new opportunities – and the bus is happy to stop and pick up anywhere along the route where it is safe to do so. For the 2023 Ross Walking Festival (walkinginross.co.uk/festival) there are two walks that promote bus use. Walk 2, one of my real favourites, takes the bus out from Ross to Hoarwithy and walks back to the town, exploring four very different churches and their foibles enroute, crossing the River Wye 3 times, and following some great footpaths through our amazing countryside and farms. This route is part of the Long Distance Herefordshire Trail that encircles the county for 150 miles and is very popular with walkers who know about it! Walk 25 uses the Gloucester bus between Ross and Weston-under-Penyard – though there are options for the more energetic to walk both directions along quite different footpaths. The Festival programme also has two really popular walks which include a steam train ride through the Forest – one with a forest walk and pub lunch; the other going down to the River Severn and exploring the refurbished Lydney Harbour and the power of one of the largest tidal reaches in the world.
In addition, the programme has walks that are easy ambles – learning to take better photographs, identifying riverside birds, taking a river cruise, sampling a cream tea or local perry, or even finding dragons! Or for the more energetic, an ascent of the Sugar Loaf Mountain or the ancient furnaces of the stunning Angidy Valley… And, of course, lots in between – fossil hunting, visiting a forest mine, nature reserves with an expert, Farm visits, and much more.. Do spread the word, share our Facebook page across the country and see if anything takes your fancy.