WALKING boots are at the ready for the latest season of Haltwhistle Walking Festival.

Celebrating 35 years of touring some of Tynedale’s most scenic spots, the festival will return this year with some new routes whilst embracing old favourites.

On May 2 starting at Cow Green Reservoir, take in the superb views of the high Pennine Fell around the headwaters of the River Tees, and view up-close the dramatic landscape and abundance rare plants. But the views don’t stop coming, as the walk picks up the Pennine Way National Trail and stays with it until trekkers will hear the dramatic roar of Cauldron Snout, where the river Tees flows over the Great Whin Sill, with stunning views.

For something more gentle on the same day, try the six-mile walk through the Ladycross Nature Reserve in Slaley.

The reserve is in the disused part of a working stone quarry where the owners have created a picturesque blend of ponds, moorland and planting to provide a rich habitat for many breeds of birds, insects and wildlife. A stone circle using large blocks from the quarry is transformed into a calendar of the natural year.

For more experienced walkers the 2020 Big Round is a great opportunity for those looking for a challenge on May 3. Starting the walk at the south side of the River Coquet in Rothbury, the trail provides spectacular views over the town as it follows south towards Lordenshaw.

When crossing the Simonside Hills, from the top there’ll be a 360 degree panorama encompassing the Cheviot Hills and North Sea coastline. This walk could be ideal for nature lovers too with curlews, red grouse, wild goats and red squirrels all known to call the place home.

The walk finishes through a scenic stroll back to Rothbury.

A favourite in past years, the Roman Camps and Forts walk takes trekkers north of Hadrian’s Wall with spectacular views along the way. Leaving Haltwhistle, the trial leads up the historic Haltwhistle Burn with its reminders of the town’s industrial past.

As Hadrian’s Wall comes into view, walkers will pass the sites of Roman camps and forts along with the former Cawfields Quarry, now a lake. Amongst the wild country, the walk swings back southward with a gentle climb back to the Wall which is followed for a short way before turning across country back to Haltwhistle. This walk is suitable for anyone staying in Haltwhistle without a car as it leaves and returns to Haltwhistle Market Place.

Starting in Colwell on May 4 is one of the festival’s most popular walks across Border Raiders countryside. The walk heads towards the Blue Crags Hillfort, a defended settlement of Iron Age/Romano-British date before carrying on north to the shrunken medieval remains of the tower and fishpond of Little Swinburne, which date back to 1296. Now firmly in Border Raiders land, the trail follows the Carrier’s Lane south towards the end of the reservoir at Hallington, before heading west along the southern edge of the reservoirs, through farmland back to Colwell.

Calling all songbirds, the ever-popular singing walk will return for another round. Along the quiet roads and footpaths above Catton, they’ll be views of the surrounding moors and Allendale chimneys which will make the perfect setting for regular stops to learn new songs, all of which will be sung on the return to Catton Village Hall, where the WI will be serving tea.

Joining in on the trip is Fiona Lander, one part of folk duo Landermason, the other member being her husband Paul. Fiona will be teaching the various songs on the day.

Make sure to bring your binoculars for a special Spring Bird Walk, led by local birdwatcher Nick Leeming will begin at Haltwhistle on May 5.

Nick knows all the best birdwatching spots around the town, having lived there himself for many years, which boast a interesting variety of birds.

In a usual twist, the route, its length, destination and ascent, cannot be determined in advance, as walkers will be led by the May birds, but is likely to include a variety of habitats including woodland, farmland and moorland. It will be approximately five miles.

Another special interest walk which will take place on May 6 is ‘For Peat’s Sake – Love Our Bogs’, which gives walkers a chance to learn more about their local peat moorlands, and its importance against protecting the planet for climate change.

This moorland walk will be hosted by expert Steve Garnett from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Reserve at Geltsdale and Alistair Lockett from the North Pennine AONB Peatland project,

Booking for the festival opens on February 3.

For a full list of events, times and to book tickets visit www.haltwhistlewalkingfestival.org