We began in drizzle, progressed into blow-you-off-your-feet wind, moved into milk-chocolatey mud and completed in stair-rod rain. Nevertheless it was nice to be exterior. Following guides Anthea and Wally, their energetic collie and a bunch of different waterproof-encased walkers alongside this Black Mountains route, I’d ticked off 11 miles, three hills and one legend-laced lake (residence, they are saying, to the Afanc, the Loch Ness Monster of Wales). Had I been alone, I’d have been misplaced – or, extra probably, wouldn’t have ventured out in any respect in such inclement climate. However spurred on by strolling with others, I’d had a mini-adventure. On the finish, I bade goodbye to a brand new strolling mate. As he was peeling off his sopping gloves and over-trousers, he smiled: “That is what it’s all about.”
Wales map
At a tough depend, there are 150-odd strolling festivals deliberate within the UK in 2019. Most wait till Could or later to reap the benefits of higher climate, however they’re powerful in south Wales, and the Crickhowell Strolling Competition in March is without doubt one of the first of the 12 months. You may expertise some Welsh climate. Or you may get fortunate. And also you’ll positively discover glorious trekking on emptier trails, plus blooming daffodils, new lambs, tales, legends and bonhomie.
“The climate doesn’t cease us,” stated Roger, one in every of many volunteers who assist lead Crickhowell’s programme of just about 80 walks, which vary from straightforward canal ambles to more durable treks within the Brecon Beacons, and embody history-focused hikes, Nordic stroll tasters and extra.
A key ingredient of the pageant – certainly, all such festivals – is encouraging individuals who wouldn’t ordinarily hike to hitch a structured occasion that promotes the bodily and psychological advantages of strolling, in addition to giving concepts for routes individuals might do by themselves.

‘The climate doesn’t cease us,’ say the organisers of Crickhowell Strolling Competition
True to Roger’s phrase, the climate by no means completely stopped play. For example, once we gathered at nightfall for a deliberate torchlight procession up Crug Hywel (the Welsh for each Crickhowell and Desk Mountain) the skies regarded so grim it was cancelled. However a lower-level various nonetheless went forward, and the assembled crowd, a mixture of ages, tramped off in good spirits. We walked by an previous farmyard, wound uphill, crossed springy fields and regarded down on the wintry drama of the Usk valley. At one level, a shard of late daylight lower by the gunmetal sky, combining brightness and foreboding concurrently.
All the way in which, there was chatter because the group mingled fortunately. Sometimes we stopped for native tales: returning through Everest Drive, we had been instructed that it was named for George Everest, surveyor-general of India, who was born in Crickhowell in 1790.
I fell into step with an older man, who’d come alone. “I do loads of group walks,” he instructed me, as we got here alongside the city’s independent-lined principal avenue. “I like walks with consultants; you discover out extra.”
There have been individuals from as far afield as Shropshire, Oxfordshire and London on the stroll, in addition to from close by. I requested one native lady why she’d signed up. “I haven’t walked a lot up to now,” she stated, “however I’m attempting to lose just a little weight.”
An admirable purpose, although one not essentially straightforward to perform in Crickhowell. Our twilight stroll resulted in Clarence Corridor, the place do-it-yourself soup and chocolate brownies had been being dished up. Likewise, a brief city historical past stroll the next day completed in St Edmund’s Church, which was heat as a womb and busy with volunteers serving free tea in china cups and chunks of lemon drizzle cake. We sat and ate whereas rain evaporated off our waterproofs and a harpist performed by the pulpit. A Strolling Competition brochure lay on the desk. Cake, firm and pages of potentialities – what extra might you need?
• The pageant runs 9-17 March, stroll costs range from free to £12.50, reserving important, crickhowellfestival.com
FIVE MORE WALKING FESTIVALS

Hikers having fun with Redcar and Cleveland strolling pageant.
1. Redcar & Cleveland strolling pageant, 28 January-Three FebruaryThis area of North Yorkshire is so suited to hikers it has two festivals, one in winter and one in summer season (15-23 June). This 12 months there might be occasions celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Cleveland Manner nationwide path, corresponding to a coastal nine-miler from Staithes to Saltburn, alongside the route. Different walks concentrate on historical past and wildlife, together with a winter tree identification stroll and a brief stroll round Gisborough Priory.• Walks £2, redcar-cleveland.gov.uk/walkingfestival
2. Braemar mountain pageant, 28 February-Three March

Not strictly a strolling pageant, however a good way to get into the Highlands in winter. This occasion options low-level walks, together with a Braemar historical past stroll and a winter wildlife stroll in Ballochbuie Forest. There are additionally extra technical choices: the full-day winter abilities programs teaches you the best way to keep protected within the mountains, or there’s an introduction to snowshoeing, which covers every little thing from package becoming to judging circumstances and avalanche consciousness. Days end with talks, movie screenings and ceilidhs.• Costs range, braemarmountainfestival.com
3. Boscastle strolling week, 30 March-5 April

{Photograph}: David Hastilow/Alamy
Blow away the cobwebs on every week of Cornish walks round this picturesque harbour village, earlier than retiring to The Cobweb (Boscastle’s energetic pub) for post-hike refuelling. The ultimate programme has but to be confirmed, however in previous years has included 12 or so occasions, from straightforward walks alongside the Valency valley to loops through the cliff-top fort ruins of Tintagel and wilder strides throughout Bodmin Moor.• visitboscastle.com
4. Stroll Scilly, 3-12 April

The Isles of Scilly can afford to carry a strolling pageant earlier within the season, this being the warmest place within the UK. This well-established occasion runs a various programme of guided walks throughout the archipelago. Count on family-friendly outings, cross-island hikes, foraging walks, historical past trails and even dawn strolls with guided meditation and evening hikes for stargazing.
• Particulars and tickets might be launched in late January, visitislesofscilly.com
5. Kington walks spring weekend, 12-14 April 2019

Walkers crossing the River Lugg at Lyepole Bridge, on the Mortimer Path between Ludlow and Kington. {Photograph}: Adrian Sherratt/Alamy
The Herefordshire market city of Kington, near the Welsh border, is an actual walkers’ hub: extra long-distance trails converge in Kington than nearly wherever else within the nation. To mark 50 years of the Offa’s Dyke Affiliation, based in 1969, a number of of the mini-festival’s walks will observe the eighth-century landmark – for example, there’s a six-miler from Huntington to Kington or a more durable 15-miler from Hay-on-Wye to Kington. There are additionally walks alongside the River Wye and historic trackways, and a strenuous Eight Peaks Problem, on which hikers should self-navigate between the very best surrounding summits.• Half-day walks £5.50, longer walks £7.50, kingtonwalks.org