The first Larne Borough Council Antrim Hills Walking Festival took place on Friday 5th Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th October with a series of walks and talks.
The Walking Festival which was part funded by the North East Partnership Rural Development Programme and sponsored by Larne Borough Council kicked off with at the Londonderry Arms with a fascinating talk by Ballymena tour guide, Jennifer McLernon, and continued on Saturday and Sunday with a variety of walks to suit family and moderate walkers as well as those who preferred more challenging upland routes.
Walks included the Antrim Hills Way from Ballyboley Forest to the Feystown Road, Carnlough Lochs and Trosks and Glenarm Forest & Estate. Local walking guide and Leave No Trace Master Educator, Cowper Lynas, who organised the routes on behalf of the Council, was delighted with a turnout of over 100 walkers who enjoyed the Festival weekend in splendid autumn sunshine.
Walkers came from as far away as Belfast, Newry, Bangor, Portadown and even Dublin to enjoy the spectacular scenery and views over the Scottish coast.
James and Audrey McKeown from Newtownabbey commented: “We had a fantastic time. We came on the challenging walk and to see such organisation and expertise on leading made it a memorable day.”
As part of the Leave No Trace theme to the event walkers were encouraged to pick up at least one piece of litter and it was very pleasing to discover that in fact very little was discovered on the 11 miles of waymarked path.
All the walks were guided, with leaders from the Glenarm Walkers Group who provided valuable assistance over the weekend. Grateful thanks is due to the farmers and landowners in the Carnlough and Glenarm area who lent their support and kindly allowed the walks to take place over their land.
In the light of the wide ranging support and very positive evaluation of the event provided by the participants it is hoped to make this Festival an ongoing date in the walking calendar.