Newsletter > Newsletter archive > December 2016

December 2016

Get muddy in a canal
There's something just right about a walk along a canal in the middle of winter. By definition it's pretty flat, there's lots of wildlife to see and the sense of history is palpable. The Canal & River Trust looks after most of our man-made waterways, which still form a web-like network across much of the country and are as alive today as they were during the industrial revolution when so many of them were created.

Throughout the winter the Canal & River Trust is holding a series of free open days so that you can delve deeper into the history of this fascinating mode of transport and also learn out about how the canals are kept in shape today. This could be your chance to get really muddy discovering how the canals were constructed in the Victorian era and perhaps try the traditional construction methods of puddling or mixing lime mortar.

Each open day is unique. On some you will be able to take a walk through a drained canal lock, while on others you could be journeying by boat looking at local features or strolling along an empty channel talking to volunteer lock keepers, heritage experts and ecologists about how the canal basin, structures and engineering works are cared for.

The open days are free and will be taking place across England and Wales this winter until March 2017. To find out more about your nearest open day visit the Canal & River Trust website.

Last minute Christmas
If you would like to give a present that lasts all year, then a Walkingworld gift subscription could be the answer. When you pay for a Walkingworld subscription for someone they can join and start their subscription whenever they like, so they get the best possible value from your gift. The gift subscription is the standard £18 for a Walkingworld subscription and you just need to print out a PDF sheet (or email it to them) so your recipient knows what to do.

Our Kindle version of the Pathways book, which takes a gentle stroll through centuries of British paths and tracks, also arrives instantly on your e-reader or tablet. Priced at just £1.99 its twenty chapters cover everything from ancient ridgeways to smuggling trails and pilgrimages – and of course canals. It could be just the thing to snuggle up with in front of the fire and provide some inspiration for next year's walking.

Piedmont's Magical Valley
This month, Inntravel introduce a little-known Italian region hidden away in the dramatic mountains of Piedmont. The remote Valle Maira, an enchanting fold in the Cottian Alps, close to the French border where the Occitan language lives on, is the setting for a challenging, self-guided walk available from May to October 2017.

It starts in the mountain village of Allemandi, with routes linking picturesque hamlets and villages that adhere to age-old traditions. Many of the paths criss-crossing this extraordinarily beautiful high valley are paved in stone at lower levels – where mixed forest is interspersed with Mediterranean vegetation – and are often bordered by crumbling dry stone walls. On higher slopes, the rocky alpine landscape is dotted with plentiful clear-blue lakes against a backdrop of impressive high peaks.

With three nights in Allemandi, three in Chiappera and a final two nights in Finello, there is plenty of time to explore this wonderful area to the full. And, as Inntravel includes dinner each night, you can be assured of a hearty meal at the end of each day's rewarding walk.

"This was the best Alpine walking of my life! It's a fantastic place, with great accommodation, excellent food, friendly people – and, above all, the spectacular mountains and extensive network of ancient paths."
Eric Kendall (Inntravel routefinder)

For details of Inntravel's walking holidays in Italy, visit or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.

Piedmont's Magical Valley
- Self-guided, hotel-to-hotel walking holiday
- Prices from £995pp, inc. 8 nights' B&B accommodation, 8 dinners, 6 picnics & detailed route notes
- Flights extra (direct to Turin or Genova from several UK regional airports)
- Available 20 May-8 October 2017

Walking in the hills of Eastern Spain
Castellón is a large region, part of the Comunidad Valenciana in the east of Spain, and easily reached by air from the UK. The Maestrazgo, the hilly area around the ancient walled town of Morella, offers a wide variety of walking in terrain at altitudes of between 750 and 1300m above sea level.

Recently Walkingworld contributor Jim Arymar and his wife Gina spent two weeks exploring Morella and its surrounding area, and reports "that it is one of the most beautiful and interesting walking areas of Spain we have so far discovered". They have put together a portfolio of eleven walks which give a thorough insight into this region as well as a chance to visit and explore its many charming little villages and hamlets.

High Street path to be repaired
The Wainwright Society has chosen Fix the Fells, the body that repairs upland paths in the Lake District, as the main beneficiary of its fundraising during 2017. The money will be used to repair Long Stile, the final ascent on to the summit of High Street, between Ullswater and Haweswater. Alfred Wainwright, who wrote seven Pictorial Guides to the Lake District fells, considered this ascent from Mardale to be the finest way to the summit.

The scree ascent of Long Stile has suffered significant erosion in recent years and is in need of a stone-pitched path to stop it getting worse. The land on either side of the path also needs to be repaired and protected from further damage. This will require stone to be brought in by helicopter, which will add to the cost of the repair. The work is scheduled for 2018. We are always happy to support the Society in its fundraising and next year's beneficiary is definitely a worthy one.

Dark Skies Festival
A Dark Skies Festival is taking place in Yorkshire this February half term, as mentioned in last month's newsletter. The festival runs from Saturday 18 to Sunday 26 February 2017. The schedule has now been released and is packed with fun and interesting events for all ages and abilities.

Feel warm in more ways than one
New base layer tops featuring the Legion's slogan ‘Live On' and Poppy logo are being sold by The Royal British Legion. The base layers feature some of the latest technology in lightweight and breathable fabric and are available in men's (high neck) and women's (rounded neck) fits. All funds raised go directly to The Royal British Legion and help with the important work they do in providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families. The garments are available exclusively through the Poppy Shop at £34.99 each.