In 2022 we celebrated ten successful years of the Alton Walking Festival.

The event had started as a small-scale weekend event and has expanded into what is now one of the largest walking festivals in the country (well, we in Walk Alton call it the biggest and, certainly, the best!)

The 2023 event will, as usual, last for the whole of May, which means 31 full days of walks.

There will be an even more diverse range of walks on offer than in the 2022 event.

It’s still too early to provide lots of detail, although the broad programme has already been put together. Here’s a taster, which might lighten the gloomy winter days and get you anticipating sunny May days of walking!

In past years, the Alton Walking Festival has featured walks from Winchester, Whitchurch and Overton; the 2023 event will see walks to Alton from Petersfield (15 miles), Basingstoke (12 miles) and Guildford (25 miles), all using public transport to reach the start of the walk.

There will be plenty of bluebell walks and a large number of gentle circuits, taking in our lovely local countryside, woodland and attractive villages.

South Downs National Park staff will be offering specialist walks at Shortheath Common. Both the Alton and the Binsted tree wardens will lead tree walks in their areas and there will also be ghost walks, foraging walks, dark sky walks, a trees and poetry walk and wellbeing walks.

Some walks will start at West Meon, others at Beacon Hill, at Ellisfield, at Froyle and at Medstead. There will be town walks, bat walks and family walks. A feast of late-spring walking!

During the Walking Festival there will also be a repeat of the Lions sponsored walks (five miles and ten miles) and it is also hoped to organise a family day of walks and activities in Chawton Park.

Watch this space for details of when the Walking Festival programme will go online and open for booking – not yet, of course, but perhaps this brief glimpse of the treats to come will whet your appetite!

Walk Alton works with Alton Town Council staff to shape the programme and persuade new walk leaders to put themselves forward. We will also be providing some leader training sessions early in the spring.

However, we are well aware of the tremendous amount of work undertaken by Alton Town Council staff, especially Natalie and Kayleigh, who make this wonderful event happen – and succeed – every year!

Ian Fleming