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Ballater Walking Festival 2021

-Latest update as of 9th February 2021:

We have a keen team of leaders and helpers, and a programme of moderate and easy walks, so if you are in or can get to Ballater from the 15th -21st May, we hope to be able to walk with you. Strenuous walks would be booked separately.

A decision will be made on the 15th April to decide if Ballater Walking Festival goes ahead or not. At this point, we shall publish the programme, and will know what rules and restrictions we will have to adhere to, and whether booking of walks would be required.

As of 19th January, we are planning that the festival will take place from the 15th to the 21st of May. However this is very dependent on the situation with the pandemic, and the government guidelines then in place, and no final decisions can be taken yet. For now, we are in lockdown, and only 2 people from 2 households can walk together, so I’m afraid we cannot confirm that the Ballater Walking Festival of 2021 will take place.

It will be a different walking festival, with the majority of the walks starting and finishing in Ballater, as we shall not be providing public transport. We are planning to have Moderate and Easy walks, but it appears that the numbers must be more limited, with perhaps only 10 walkers, the leader and a helper. Strenuous walk should be available too, but with a separate booking system. Walks may have to be pre-booked as usual, and we may be able to offer staggered starts. Everyone who was booked into 2020’s walking week will be contacted by email, once our program is confirmed, and if you would like your name added to the list please contact jenny@walkballater.com.

The other difference will be that we will probably not have any evening entertainment. This will be a big miss, but if we feel it would be safe to hold an evening event , we shall do so, but unfortunately no ceilidh!

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The Ballater Walking Festival is now in its 23rd Year and started when the Chairman of Ballater (RD) Ltd and the CEO of Scottish Enterprise discussed a community engagement tied to our natural tourist resource – namely hills and walking.

It was a case then of all hands to the wheel, with landowners, volunteers, Board Members and wives putting together a program, reception supper, entertainment, local history talks, film shows and educational Map Reading lessons. Everything was done on a voluntary basis from supply of food to time given and this foundation stone has been constant throughout the 21 years.

Today we have the sophistication of professional guides, the internet and booking processes, but the family feeling still runs through the event. This was shown by the amazing generosity of our walkers (friends) in 2016 when we ran a free festival following Storm Frank on a much reduced programme only find that they donated over £400 during the week to our village Flood Fund to help the residents.

Explore The Natural Beauty Of The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park is a living, working landscape with wild land at its heart. Larger than the Lake District and twice the size of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, the park contains some of the best wildlife habitats in the UK and its ancient pine forests, arctic mountain tops, lochs, rivers and moorlands are home to a quarter of the nation’s threatened species.

Nowhere else in the British Isles can visitors enjoy such a collection of outstanding environments in one place in such a variety of different ways. Regardless of age or interest the park and its communities offer something for everybody.

Ballater Walking Festival - Clais Fhernaig
Clais Fhernaig (a new walk introduced this year)

So the 2020 Ballater Walking Festival will feature many walks, including some new ones (never easy when you think we have identified 221 different walks since 2002). Here’s the Online Brochure for 2020.

Take a look at the photo gallery of recent walks.

Fun is the theme of the week whether that be walking, catching up with old friends or making new friends during the week. There is a full schedule of entertainment and Ballater offers a mix of hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars to while away the evenings regaling the events of the day.

An evening entertainment programme starts with the formal registration and welcome reception on the Saturday where you mix with other walkers, along with the leaders and local residents who will accompany you on the walks.

Other highlights include a quiz night, a talk by a Scottish author, a two course meal with all the other walkers at ‘The Festival Gathering’ (included in the price of Wednesday’s walks) and remember to save some energy for the popular traditional Ceilidh on the Friday.