ON the eve of the first Hawick Walking Festival, organisers say that strong ticket sales have ensured it is set to be a big hit.
Following previous successes when Hawick staged the Scottish Borders Walking Festival in 2002 and 2011 – when it attracted the highest number of bookings in its 17-year history – it was decided to experiment with the town hosting its own independent weekend. And early indications are that this inaugural event will become an annual fixture.
Organiser Andrew Farquhar, who chairs a small committee of helpers, told the Hawick News: “We’re holding this festival to try and do something good for Hawick and encourage people to come here. It’s amazing the response we’ve had already, especially from the website, with one lady coming from Austria, and others from Northumberland and throughout Scotland.”
Mr Farquhar, who was at the forefront of the previous walking festivals, added: “Bookings are going really well. We needed 60 per cent of the walks booked in order to break even, and we’ve already achieved that.”
And with visitors staying in Hawick over the next three days, local businesses are also set to benefit.
The three-day programme – details of which are contained in a leaflet and at www.hawickwalkingweekend.co.uk – boasts seven walks chosen to not only show the area at its best, but also highlight history and folklore.
Tomorrow, walkers will travel on specially provided buses from the festival centre at St Mary’s and Old Parish Church Hall in Buccleuch Street, before embarking on walks to Peniel Heugh, and Jedburgh to Denholm via Ruberslaw.
Sunday’s programme includes a 13-mile trek to the Ogilvie Cairn, with a recital from Ian Landles, while a Cavers circular will include a presentation at Cavers Kirk by Gordon Jackson. Sunday will also feature the Nan Lyle walk to the cairn near Whitchester. On Sunday night, walkers and townsfolk are encouraged to swap their walking boots for dancing shoes for a ceilidh in the church hall, before Monday’s walks to Priesthaugh and Stobs. Registration for all walks is 9am, with refreshments available before and afterwards. All walks cost £5 and depart at 9.30am. Mr Farquhar added: “People love coming here for our fantastic countryside, so hopefully the walking weekend will become an annual event.”