There are many walking festivals across the UK each year, but until now we’d never tried any. And then we received an invitation from the Bishop’s Castle Walking Festival. Kelvin had been looking for another long trek to tackle, but hadn’t found any that really appealed, so the idea of five days’ quality walking in the Shropshire hills without having to do any planning seemed an ideal solution!

And so it proved. Five Stumblers – Kelvin, Sarah & Michael and John & Gil – jumped at the opportunity. But we really were parachuting ourselves into the unknown; we didn’t know what Bishop’s Castle would be like or whether we’d enjoy a festival of walking. We should have remembered that Stumblers’ Luck never lets us down!

First, the self-catering cottage we found was excellent; snug and homely and only a short walk from pubs, shops and restaurants. Second, Bishop’s Castle may be no bigger than Stilton but it is actually a town, not a village, with excellent amenities and some fascinating history dating from Norman times. And third – most important – the festival itself was well organised, with a selection of excellent walks, all well-led and with much of interest to discover.

One valuable aspect of the festival was the freedom it allowed to pick & mix from four different walks each day – some strenuous, others easy – so we could each plan our own preferred itinerary.

This was the festival’s 18th year so they’ve pretty well got the hang of it by now! Some walkers had apparently taken part every year since it started, which shows what a quality event it is. One important element is the various evening entertainments, this year ranging from a strenuous barn dance to a fascinating talk on the area’s wild birds by a professional ornithologist from the National Trust, no less. The Hog Roast on the Sunday was particularly fine – especially as our table won the quiz!

Altogether an outstanding experience which we would recommend to anyone wanting to discover the Shropshire hills in good company. Just bookmark the Bishop’s Castle Walking Festival website and watch for details of the 2018 event!

Bishop’s Castle 2017 in pictures