Newsletter > Newsletter archive > December 2015

December 2015

Walking in a winter wonderland
In this month’s chapter from our Pathways book we explore our country’s woods and forests. Our relationship with woodland is deeply embedded in our culture, so it’s no surprise that we love a stroll in the woods, especially at this time of year. For centuries there was a tradition of common people being able to forage in the woods and collect firewood in the dead of winter, rights that were maintained even when large tracts of woodland were taken over as royal hunting grounds after the Norman conquest.

The enclosure movement in the 18th and 19th centuries took away many of those privileges as landowners developed an obsession with shooting and did everything in their power to protect their game. The notorious Game Laws ratcheted up the penalties for poaching, so much so that at one point whole areas of the country were on the verge of full scale insurrection.

Woods and forests were also often a hive of industry, exploited for timber for ship and housebuilding or coppiced for charcoal for metal smelting or other industries. In the 20th century swathes of our landscape, particularly in the uplands, were planted up with fast growing conifer, largely in response the huge demand for timber during both World Wars. Nowadays, of course, many of these woodlands and plantations are great places for a quiet country walk. Our Pathways chapter on ‘Forest tracks’ covers much of this history in the context of the wonderful Forest of Dean and you will, of course, find plenty of woodland walks on the website.

If you’re curling up in front of the fire
The entire Pathways book is out in a Kindle edition and might make a pleasant way of whiling away a few hours over the Christmas period, with stories of paths through forests and over moorlands, or gentler perambulations along promenades and through municipal parks. The Kindle edition of Pathways is just £1.99. You can get the free Kindle app for Android and Apple phones and tablets so you don’t actually need a Kindle device. Amazon will also send you a paperback version for £6.95 – printed specially for you ‘on demand’ - if you would rather have a real book in your hands. To find the book on Amazon simply search for 'Pathways' in books or the Kindle store.

If you find yourself suddenly short of a Christmas or New Year gift, don’t forget our Walkingworld gift subscriptions. For just £18 you can give friends and family a full year of walking, with over 6500 routes in every part of Britain. The subscription can be activated at any time.

Walking in Germany
With fairy-tale scenery and storybook charm, Southern Germany’s Black Forest is a fascinating region to explore on foot. Here, you will find warm hospitality in abundance in the small, unspoiled villages such as Feldberg-Falkau, Alpersbach and Kirchgarten. But the real treat is the superb walking through the forest’s highlands, the Hochschwarzwald, on a well waymarked network of trails, including a gentle ascent to the Hinterwaldkopf Hütte from where you can soak up magical views, and a stroll along the Löffeltal to discover the remarkable Ravenna Gorge. 

A Walk in the Black Forest is one of two new self-guided hotel-to-hotel walking holidays in Germany from Inntravel. The second explores the less familiar Harz Mountains (though hugely popular with German walkers), a fascinating region steeped in myth and legend. Starting amid the brightly painted houses of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, the route follows the Witches’ Trail; ascends the summit of Brocken for panoramic views; includes a ride on the heritage Brockenbahn steam railway; and visits abbeys and castles on the way to the pretty medieval village of Wernigerode.

Other routes in Germany include A Meander along the Moselle, experiencing the wine-growing traditions of this famous river valley; and a thrilling walk Beneath the Zugspitze, which visits the astonishing gorges, sparkling lakes and high mountain scenery of the Bavarian Alps.

For more details on Inntravel’s walking holidays in Germany, see or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.

Win a weekend away with HF Holidays
In a special competition just for Walkingworld members you can win a self-guided walking break for two adults worth up to £600, courtesy of award winning HF Holidays in one of their beautiful Country House locations. With 19 destinations in the UK to choose from, all in the finest countryside settings, you’d be spoilt for choice as to where to take your prize.

Each Country House is unique, from Georgian mansions to Victorian estates and even three National Trust properties. They are all geared to the needs of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, with hearty local food, a legendary picnic lunch, and excellent boot and drying room facilities, along with a free Ordnance Survey map to help you explore the area.
HF Holidays is a co-operative tour operator with over 36,000 members, and welcomes more than 60,000 guests on a wide range of walking, outdoor and leisure activity holidays each year in the UK, across Europe and worldwide. They are the Telegraphs’ Favourite Specialist Tour Operator and they have won Best Large Tour Operator at the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards five times consecutively. Which? also named HF Holidays as one of its Recommended Providers for holidays for a fourth year in a row.

To enter the competition just give your details on the competition form on the HF Holidays website.

Ibiza and Formentera maps
In a departure from the norm, Discovery Walking Guides are kickstarting their latest set of ‘warm island’ maps with a Kickstarter funding project. DWG have always produced excellent walking maps, designed for the purpose by map enthusiasts David and Ros Brawn. On the new maps for Ibiza and Formentera the walk routes by Walkingworld contributor Jim Arymar are marked on the map, which will make them a very useful complement to our guides.

When published in March 2016 the Ibiza Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map (40k scale) and the Formentera Tour & Trail Super-Durable Map (25k scale) will cost 8.99 each, with digital editions at the same price. By taking part in the Kickstarter funding – essentially an advance payment for the maps – you will get each printed map on publication for £6, a 33% discount. Pre-ordering the two digital maps costs £8, compared to the publication price of 17.98, a 55% discount. To take part go to the Kickstarter website and search ‘Ibiza Formentera’, where you will find the project in the Publishing section.

Walking Festivals
The Bishop’s Castle Walking Festival takes place in the Shropshire Hills between 7- 15 May 2016. The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is recognised as one of Britain’s finest landscapes. The seventeenth Festival offers nine days of guided walks - and some tough unguided challenge walking. With the Shropshire Way, Offa’s Dyke and the Kerry Ridgeway all at hand, there’s a lot of choice from wide, open hilltops to narrow, winding valleys, and fantastic views. Bishop’s Castle is a friendly and welcoming market town with two breweries, six pubs, interesting independent shops and a well-established programme of festivals, music and arts.

The programme for the 6-12 May 2016 Newton Stewart Walking Festival is now ready. As usual there is a good mix of walks, some old and familiar, some new and different. People have requested more short walks and so there is a new easy and lovely coastal walk from Stairhaven to Auchenmalg where the views are spectacular across to the Mull of Galloway and, on a clear day, the Isle of Man and Ireland.  There is also a pleasant flat walk on tracks and paths around Castle Douglas where there is lots of history and wildlife. Full details on the website by the end of January when booking starts.

The source of Stonehenge's bluestones
New research has apparently confirmed the precise source of Stonehenge's bluestones. Geologists have known since the 1920s that the bluestones came from somewhere in the Preseli Hills, but it has only just become possible for geologists and archaeologists working together to locate and excavate the actual quarries from which they came. Not only have the original quarries been identified but excavations there have provided valuable insights into how the stones were worked and prepared for transportation.

However there is now a new mystery as sample dating suggests that many of the stones were quarried long before Stonehenge was built, which may mean they were first erected in another monument before being moved to Wiltshire. There’s a full feature about this fascinating series of discoveries in the latest issue of British Archaeology magazine, well worth seeking out.