Alton Walking Festival will be running from Monday May 1 to Wednesday, May 31. This year the festival will be celebrating its 11th year of encouraging enthusiastic walkers, relaxed wanderers and curious explorers of all ages to attend its truly friendly walking event. 

The festival is the ideal opportunity for the local community and visitors from further afield to meet like-minded people, explore the town and its surrounding villages and discover the superb Hampshire countryside with its abundance of wildlife and rich cultural heritage.

Alton is a vibrant ‘Walkers are Welcome’ Hampshire town which truly has community spirit at its heart. Situated at the source of the River Wey and enjoying a stunning rural backdrop at the gateway of the South Downs National Park, Alton is known by many as ‘Jane Austen Country’ with its close ties to its charming neighbouring parish of Chawton.

There is plenty to see and do in and around Alton and the town serves as a convenient base to explore the local area. The town is easily accessible by public transport, has direct road links from Winchester, Basingstoke and Guildford and is located just off the A31 with ample parking throughout the town.

Whether you’re looking for a shorter stroll, a day long hike or themed walk, you will be spoilt for choice! The festival hosts a wide variety of walks led by knowledgeable volunteer walk leaders, offering an extensive programme of routes to suit all abilities. 

New for 2023, participants will be able to find out more about Alton’s brewing history, visit a local brewery, go on a ‘Gintastic’ stroll to a local distillery where they will sample and find out about the distilling process and discover a local vineyard. 

For families, children will seek out fairytale characters and listen to stories, go on a train and walking adventure to a local forest, enjoy a scavenger hunt and enjoy a gentle stroll as a family. 

Those who have a love for literature and poetry will have the opportunity to hear readings from local authors (from Jane Austen to William Cobbett) and put pen to paper themselves.

Alton Town Council is extremely grateful to all the committed local volunteer groups, walking enthusiasts and local businesses who have put together a programme to promote, share and develop walks around the town. 

This year it would like to welcome and thank Heathlands Reunited public engagement rangers from the South Downs National Park Authority and South East Hampshire Ramblers for their contribution to this year’s festival.

Alton Town Council would also like to thank this year’s sponsors McCarthy Stone, Alton School and Pumpkin Pantos as well as South Western Railway for their continued partnership, and a massive “thank you” too to Hogmoor Distillery, Gilbert White’s Brewery and Hattingley Valley for their support.

Karl Guest, headmaster of Alton School, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to our beautiful woodland grounds for the Alton Walking festival. We hope it will be an opportunity for families and friends to come together and enjoy a fun day out in the fresh air.”

Nicki Beswarick, divisional marketing manager at McCarthy Stone Southern, which has a Retirement Living development in Alton, Queen Elizabeth Place, said: “At McCarthy Stone we aim to support initiatives in the towns and communities in which we build that will help to create a lasting, positive legacy, such as the Alton Walking Festival.

“It is our pleasure to support this brilliant work within the local community.” 

Ian Fleming, of Walk Alton, said: “The Alton Walking Festival is one of the longest and best in the country. It is now in its 11th successful year and offers a wonderful selection of walks of all kinds throughout the month of May. 

“Walk Alton is proud to be involved with this great event and is providing training for new walk leaders and backmarkers.

“Walking is a great way to keep fit and active. Walking with a group is always a pleasure – check out more than 100 walk options in this year’s festival.”

All walks need to be booked in advance. For further details on the walks available and to book, visit the website or email [email protected]

Alton Town Council has produced a guide listing all the walks, which will be available from various locations in the town and surrounding areas.