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  • Writer's pictureIan Blyth

A whole new world of uncertainty

Farnham Walking Festival – with whom we work closely – would have been due to start about now. All the Coronavirus restrictions have obviously made that impossible so they had to cancel this year’s event. A great disappointment for all of those who put so much work into creating a splendid programme of walks.

But what of Guildford Walkfest? Well, the honest answer is that we just don’t know at the moment. If anyone has an accurate crystal ball that helps to foretell the future, we’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, the Walkfest team are trying to keep our options open. It is probable that social distancing constraints will still be in place and a significant part of the pleasure of a walking festival is the social interaction. Most walking groups take their lead from the policies of Ramblers UK and their position is that all walks are off at the moment. However, they are due to revisit their guidance from the end of May so we will be watching out for that.

What is already clear is that, if we are able to put on some sort of festival, 2020 will look very different to previous years. Perhaps we will need to copy Surrey Day (2nd May) which very successfully created a Virtual event? Possibly we can put on a limited number of walks, with pre-booking to manage numbers and social distancing imposed? Maybe we can only place some self- guided walks on our website to give people suggestions of walks that they can undertake on their own. The bottom line is that the situation is constantly evolving and we are still hoping that we can provide some element of Guildford Walkfest.

What we do already know is that we will not be producing a paper booklet of walks this year. It was very successful in 2019 but the costs involved and the need to be able to make late changes to our plans means that this will not be viable for 2020. If you wish to be part of whatever festival we manage to deliver, it is therefore essential that you keep an eye on our Walkfest website. Our various contributor organisations have still been developing potential walks and, if we go ahead, the programme will be based on a web listing.

In the meantime, keep safe and make the most of the newly relaxed coronavirus rules to get out for some exercise and fresh air – and to enjoy our wonderful scenery.

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