The chair of the Hawick Walking Festival Group has hailed the impact she expects this year’s event to have on the local economy, after tickets were snapped up within days of the website going live.
Marion Short says the whole town is set to benefit from the 24th Borders Walking Festival, which is being hosted this year by Hawick.
“We know from the bookings that a large amount of the walkers are here for the entire week, which should in turn have a considerable impact on the economy for the town in relation to accommodation and evening meals, availability of which have been highlighted on the website and in the festival brochure,” she said.
The week-long festival, which starts on Sunday, September 2, has proved more popular than ever with walkers set to flock to the town from near and far.
“Sales for walks have exceeded all expectations, so much so that we now only have 28 walk spaces available from the 500 originally on offer,” Mrs Short said.
“In fact, within three weeks of the website going live, we were oversubscribed on all sections of the Borders Abbeys Way, but we are accommodating these additional bookings courtesy of the countryside rangers who will be leading those walks.
“This festival is already so popular with visitors returning from all parts of the UK, and even as far afield as Luxembourg, and plenty of new visitors coming for the first time, too.”
Twenty-six walks will take place over the week-long festival, with evening entertainment also arranged on the Monday (String Theory in the Heart of Hawick); Tuesday (Hawick Archaeological Society at the high school); and Friday (Hawick Sings in the Burns Club).
The walks range from free and easy strolls around the town, through to strenuous hikes, such as the 11-mile Morebattle to Kirk Yetholm route, with moderate and harder courses covering everything in between.
There are still spaces on a handful of walks, including the 10-mile harder route to the Ruberslaw summit on the opening day, a walk to Stobs Camp and a foray into the Cheviots.
There are also some spaces available on the ‘free and easy strolls’ around the town, taking in various places of interest such as Wilton Lodge Park/Museum, Williestruther Loch/Acreknowe Reservoir, Johnstons of Elgin, the Hawick Distillery and Scottish Borders Art Glass.
“Each day we have less availability, so those wanting to join a walk are advised to book soon,” Mrs Short added.
Walkers will receive a welcome pack containing Hawick Balls, a Hawick tartan fridge magnet or key ring, and refillable water bottles from Scottish Water, as well as fresh fruit, courtesy of Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
At the end of each day tea, coffee and home baking will be available, thanks to the local WRIs, in the registration centre, the Old Parish church hall, opposite the high school.
For availability and booking information, go to www.borderswalking.com.