Coronavirus forces cancellation of Scottish Borders Walking Festival for 2020

Borderers hoping to put their best foot forward at the region’s annual walking festival, due to be held in September, will have to wait another year to don their hiking books.

The event, hosted this time jointly by Jedburgh and Ancrum, is the latest to fall victim to the Covid-19 outbreak sweeping across not just the UK but the world.

Organisers have taken the decision to postpone the Scottish Borders Walking Festival for now, in light of the restrictions on social gatherings put in place by the governments this month in a bid to halt the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

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A spokesman said: “Given the continuing uncertainty about the severity and duration of the Coronavirus outbreak, the decision has been made to cancel this festival.

Walkers won't be donning their boots this September.Walkers won't be donning their boots this September.
Walkers won't be donning their boots this September.

“The annual festival, held in a different town each year, attracts visitors from across the UK and beyond. “Planning for the event was well underway and the website was due to go live for bookings in early April, but the continuing uncertainty around travel and the shutdown of the hospitality industry makes forward planning very difficult.”

This year’s festival was due to offer visitors and local guided walks of all lengths and difficulties in and around the Jedburgh and Ancrum area between Sunday, September 6 and Saturday, September 13.

It is now hoped the event can be held at a later date instead.

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“The organising committee would like to thank all the volunteers from Jedburgh, Ancrum and beyond who have worked so enthusiastically to support the festival We hope that we will have the opportunity to stage the event at a later date,” the spokesman added.

Established in 1995, the festival is the longest-running walking event in Scotland.

Last September’s 25th event was hosted by Selkirk and the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys.

It featured not only a host of guided walks but also concerts, ceilidhs, social events and an evening with Scotland’s top outdoor writer and presenter of the BBC Adventure Show, Cameron McNeish.

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In November, organisers there handed over an engraved shepherd crook to the Jedburgh volunteers taking on the running of the 2020 event.

They’ll now hold onto the walking-themed baton until a new date is set and the festival held, whenever that may be.

Meanwhile, a decision has also been made to cancel next month’s Galashiels Weekend Walking Festival, which was due to take place this month.

A spokeswoman said: “It goes without saying that this is not a decision we have taken lightly but in these times common sense has to prevail.

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“This is a postponement not a cancellation. We will have another festival, and it will be bigger and better than ever.

“Now isn’t the time though.”

The 10-walk weekend was due to take place from Friday, April 24, to Sunday, April 26 with a celebratory concert organised for the Saturday.