In May the Alton Walking Festival will be celebrating its 12th successful year.

Alton Walking Festival is one of the largest in the country. It started as a weekend event and has since expanded to take up a full month, the 31 days of May - with a bonus week in October to revisit some of the more popular walks from May.

This May the festival will offer 100 walks ranging from 1.5 miles to 25 miles. There will be a wide range of themed walks, covering local geography and topography, winemaking, brewing, using a map and compass, lost railways, trees and woodlands, bluebells, hedgerows, foraging, wellbeing and mindfulness, country churches and the pubs of Alton.

This year, for the first time, there will be a set of linear walks back to Alton from all surrounding towns, making use of public transport - or, in three cases, using a minibus to reach the walk start.

They will range from nine to 25 miles in length and will include the towns of Winchester, Bishops Waltham, Petersfield, Liss, Guildford, Farnham, Odiham, Hook, Basingstoke, Overton, Whitchurch, Alresford and Winchester. The linear walks back to Alton all pass through beautiful countryside and offer an exciting challenge for walkers keen to try out longer walks.

The Alton Walking Festival is run by Alton Town Council and supported by South Western Railway and the Wey Valley Community Rail Partnership. Walk Alton planned the programme of walks and has also provided training for walk leaders and backmarkers.

Booking for the festival opened on April 1 and there were already several hundred people registered well before that date. Why not take a look at the full programme on the Walk Alton website, book a place on a walk or two and participate in this premier walking event?

Ian Fleming