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Over 50 free guided walks at the Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival (3rd February 2014)

Over 50 free guided walks at the Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival

Now in its ninth year and bigger than ever before, the Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival (Saturday 3rd – Sunday 11th May 2014) is offering a choice of over 50 free, varied and rewarding walks in and around the stunning Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, where the Industrial Revolution began over 300 years ago.

From challenging all day hikes for the more experienced walker, to family friendly trails and short informative walks, this year’s Festival has something to whet the appetite of all ages and abilities. With the newly acquired Walkers are Welcome status a warm welcome is guaranteed in the town.

As well as nearly 20 new walks, the 2014 Festival will be introducing the first 100 Mile Ironbridge Challenge. Those taking part must finish seven specified walks on seven different days with the combined mileage toping over 100 miles. Walkers completing the challenge will receive a certificate and woven badge for their rucksack.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, on Saturday 10th May a guided linear walk around The Gorge will visit memorials to the fallen, as well as sites connected with both World Wars.

Other new walks include an early evening family outing on 7th May to explore the nature and wildlife in the enchanting woods at Loamhole Dingle, Coalbrookdale with a surprise for all, and an opportunity to learn about the variety of wild flowers in Lodge Field under the guidance of an expert from Shropshire Wildlife Trust. There will also be additional nature walks with information to help identify trees and birds and an early evening ‘quiz walk’ around Coalbrookdale finishing at a local inn.

Popular tried and tested walks being repeated explore historic trails and the part played by The Gorge in the Industrial Revolution. There’s also a gentle two-hour family treasure hunt suitable for pushchair and wheelchair users, alternatively experienced walkers can join a strenuous 15 mile circular hike over the Wrekin, ideal for walkers happy with steep climbs and rough terrain.

For those wanting to discover more about the heritage of the area there is a walk that take in the history of the river bridges and a 15 mile circular walk skirting the edge of the World Heritage Site. Three walks explore the many churches and other places of worship in and around The Gorge on 6th and 9th May.

All walks are free however pre-booking is essential; well behaved dogs on a lead are welcome on most walks but please check before booking. To reserve a place or request a copy of the programme contact the Ironbridge Visitor Information Centre by email at tic@ironbridge.org.uk or call 01952 433 424; details can also be found on www.visitironbridge.co.uk/walkingfestival.