A town in the Tyne Valley recently hosted their traditional walking festival, but with a difference compared to other years with enormous success.

Haltwhistle’s Walking Festival is a regular fixture on the town’s calendar of events every year, but the 2021 event took place virtually as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Therefore, people not just from the town but also from around the country as well as even further afield were encouraged to take part and go for a walk around their local area while keeping in line with Covid restrictions.

“We wanted everyone to be walking whenever and wherever they could – and we want to see and hear all about what everyone was up to,” said Catriona Mulligan, Chair of Haltwhistle Walking Festival.

Another aspect of the online walking event was the ‘Halty Bears’ that everyone taking part was encouraged to create and take with them during the hikes they completed.

The bears were then photographed by their owners and shared among the dedicated Facebook group that was used to show what they had been up to and where.

The groups ‘real life’ bear - who also was the walking ambassador for the event - led the opening walk of the festival between Warden and Tyne Green, with Maureen and Brian Hart from Haltwhistle also taking part before the group stopped off for a picnic afterwards.

As a result bears were taken on trips around the country, further proving just how successful the Haltwhistle-based event was in its new online format.

Bears were photographed around the UK including Horace Bear from Haltwhistle, Henry lowland Bear from Morpeth, Hungry Bear from Hexham, Hope Bear from Kirkwhelpington, Hermione Bear from Slaggyford and even a Taffy Bear from mid Wales and also a be- jewelled Bear from Berkshire.

“We were so pleased that everyone stayed safe and enjoyed taking part, added Catriona.

“It is great news that we can now begin to meet in larger groups once more and planning for next year’s Walking Festival, April 23rd – May 2nd 2022, is now underway. We hope that we can welcome visitors once again.”