ORGANISERS and participants alike have been singing the praises of Haltwhistle Walking Festival.

The 33rd festival ran from April 27 until May 6, with dozens of walks provided across the 10 days.

Walkers came from as far away as Chicago to take part in the festival.

Each day featured a longer walk of at least 10 miles, and a slightly shorter, easier walk.

In addition, there were four special interest walks where participants could go in search of archaeology, bastles, or birds.

One of the special interest walks took place on Thursday, May 2.

Walkers met at Haltwhistle Market Place to take part in a singing walk, which ended with a sing-a-long at Holy Cross Church, featuring the talents of local musician Ian Brown.

Joan Clemo, from Norfolk, took part in the singing walk and explained why she had travelled so far for the festival.

“I was at medical school with Marj Baillie, one of the organisers, and she told me about the festival about five years ago.

“I’ve come every year since. The people here are lovely, they’re so warm and inclusive.

“I know the area well from medical school. It’s gorgeous.”

Mary Imlah, from Gateshead, added: “I’ve come on and off for about eight years now. It’s accessible, and it’s on your doorstep.”

Despite its name, the Haltwhistle Walking Festival is not just limited to the Haltwhistle area.

Other walks offered included a four-day trek from the River Eden to the River Tyne; a walk in the foothills of the Cheviots in Elsdon; two walks around the North Tyne as well as walks around Hexham and Slaley.

After hundreds of miles under their belt, organiser Marj Baillie said the festival was a huge success.

“We had a wonderful festival with great weather, and great people taking part,” she said.

“One of the things we marketed our walks on was that it’s not just a walk. It’s a great opportunity for people to enjoy the magnificent walking countryside we have here.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the response and preparations are well under way for the next festival in the autumn, so we won’t be putting our feet up any time soon.”