Author: Morag McConnell

The Irvine Valley is a walker’s paradise with an extensive network of footpaths, rights of way and roads which are easily accessible from each of the Valley Towns. Darvel is surrounded by open countryside, exhilarating high moorland, dappled riverside and shaded woodland on the walks & cycle paths linking with Newmilns, Galston & Hurlford.

Full details of all events are included in the Valley WalkFest brochure. Get your copy now in local shops & from Sports Darvel. The WalkFest Team have been distributing brochures throughout Ayrshire but contact the Team on valleywalkfest@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Valley WalkFest 2019 opens on Friday 10th May with two school walks & new afternoon walks around Newmilns and Crookedholm, and two evening walks from Darvel.

The venue has changed again for Friday Evening Events. This year Sports Darvel are hosting with a BBQ, Youth Club and Taster Classes. Details available from Rachael Morgan at Sports Darvel on 07572 866631. Cycle Station are taking bookings for a led Electric Bike Ride for over 16s. The walks on Friday evening are the ever popular Newmilns Pharmacy Walk, a five mile walk on quiet country roads, new route up Cemetery Brae and around the Windsheilds Loop (no bookings for this one); and Twilight Bat Walk with EALT Countryside Rangers Kate & Jake. Phone the Rangers on 01563 554734 or email rangers@eastayrshireleisure.com to book your place for the Bat Walk. Also bring a torch and wear warm clothing.

Saturday 11th will see a wide range of walks from Darvel and Galston. Full details are in the brochure or available on Facebook.com/Valleywalkfest. Returning to Whitelee this year are an Introduction to Map Reading and Cycle Station are leading an Electric Bike Ride from Sports Darvel on the Weavers Trail. Darvel walks include: the Heritage Walk with Frank Donnelly, In The Steps of The Outlaw King, Music Festival Walk, and Stevie Borland’s Crashed Plane Walk, and then walkers can reward themselves afterwards listening to some great live music in the Black Bull Lounge.

On Sunday the TWALK Walk from Darvel around Lanfine Estate to Gulleyhill will visit CHaT Hub in Newmilns for a comfort break. Gillian’s Walk sees a new route for WalkFest this year Whitelee’s Secret Forest visiting the tranquil scenic side of the UK’s largest onshore windfarm at Cleughearn Plantation. This is an easy 3 mile route and walkers will be bussed to and from Darvel. Twa Derval Hills led this year by Christopher Higton is a strenuous moderate paced walk and finishes at Loudoun Hill Pizzeria where walkers can reward themselves with buying a slice of pizza or a sweet treat before being bussed back to Darvel. Jacob’s Ladder & Roy’s Wood is a new afternoon walk led by Ishbel & Beth from the CHaT Hub in the Old Post Office Newmilns. This walk climbs up Jacob’s Ladder and through woodland path to the country roads on the north side of the Valley and ends in Darvel.

Jog The Valley from Darvel is another first for Valley WalkFest and is on Sunday afternoon led by Colin Jamieson of Jog Scotland. His aim is to provide an opportunity to achieve a healthier, happier and more active life, while looking after your mental health and wellbeing whether you’re a total beginner or a budding Mo Farah. Colin is also offering Nordic Walking Tasters on Sunday morning so contact him on 07815 164359 for info on either event.

2019 sees a New Route for this year’s Festival Bike Ride Marion & Janet will lead the 20 mile route at moderate pace along the River Irvine on country roads and cycle paths to Hurlford- no need to book just bring your bike & wear a helmet. On Sunday afternoon great new family event Bird Spotting & Box Building hosted at Galston Mission Hall by EALT Rangers Christine & Jake- book on  01563 554734 or email rangers@eastayrshireleisure.com as spaces are limited. Newmilns Snow & Sports Complex are offering Tubing and Ski Taster sessions contact them on 01560 322320 for details.

The Valley Walkfest organised by a not-for-profit community group called Irvine Valley Walking Festival. Walks are all free of charge but donations are needed more than ever to help cover costs. Booking is necessary for some events so check brochure for full details.  Brochures with full details of the Valley WalkFest 2019 are widely available in local shops or look for news on Facebook.com/Valleywalkfest

If you would like to take part in the Valley WalkFest and have a few hours to spare, why not consider helping out at the Darvel Registration Points. Whether it’s helping people register or making teas and coffees, volunteering and getting involved will be a fun & memorable experience. Contact any of the Valley WalkFest Team- Joyce Morton, Morag Balls, John Potts, Hugh Morton or Jack Callaghan or email  valleywalkfest@gmail.com