‘Huge demand’ for first walking festival

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There’s a chance to keep fit, enjoy some beautiful countryside and learn more about the heritage on your doorstep during a new festival being launched in May.

The first ever Walking Festival for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, which includes Belper, will take place during the school half-term holiday, from May 25 to June 2.

Sixty walks have been planned, with the longest at ten miles and the shortest at just 200 yards.

Each walk will be packed full with information about the Derwent Valley and its contribution to world history, and leaders will be pointing out places of interest on the way.

One of the highlights for the festival week will be held in Belper’s old deer park, where a guided tour will transform into something quite different, thanks to the Derby-based 1623 Theatre Company.

Three performances on Sunday, May 26 at 3pm, 5pm and 7pm will see walkers meeting up with Will Shakespeare and other familiar characters as they explore the park.

The event has been created especially for the festival, thanks to support from Belper Town Council.

Walkers pay £3 or less for the 60 guided tours – some of which have never been offered before –and any money raised will be used to help maintain and promote the World Heritage Site.

“This isn’t replacing the more-established Discovery Days Festival, which will still be taking place from October 26 to November 3,” said Adrian Farmer from the World Heritage Site team, which is 
co-ordinating the event.

“There has been such a huge demand for the walks during Discovery Days we thought it would be a good idea to offer them again at a warmer time of the year, and hopefully raise some funds for our amazing heritage.”

The festival commemorates World Heritage Site walk leader Geoff Errington, who died last year.

For more visit www.derwentvalleymills.org or pick up abooklet in your local library. The booking line number is 01629 536831.