Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival

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A great weekend with WalkFest

8 May 17
Nathon Jones

The 'Grey Man of Merrick'

As well as performing at Moniaive Folk Festival last weekend I also (somehow!) found time to enjoy a day with the terrific people at Newton Stewart Walking Festival to take on the "WalkFest Challenge: Mullwharcher" route, described by the festival as "Very Strenuous"...and indeed it was!

Celebrating it's 15th birthday this year, WalkFest: Newton Stewart Walking Festival is run by a group of fantastic volunteers who share an enthusiasm and love for Galloway and the great walking experiences it offers.  It is usually held in early May and lasts for a week with a choice of guided walks mainly in the Galloway Hills and Galloway Forest Park but also with some coastal and forest/woodland routes some of which venture into nearby South Ayrshire.

Having recently discovered a few of the Galloway Hills last year on my own - namely Drigmorn Hill, Millfore and Cairngarroch which are right on my doorstep so I couldn't ignore them forever! - I wanted to find out more about them, discover a few more walks and get out there again this year.  It's great therapy, it keeps you fit and Galloway is so beautiful, particularly the hills; I'd recommend it to anyone and it's the perfect accompaniment to a weekend of music too, by the way.  ;)

What better way to learn about the hills and discover some new walks than to join this year's WalkFest and their team of experienced walkers and guides, many of whom are also volunteers for the local Galloway Mountain Rescue.  So I signed up for, what I eventually discovered, was possibly the toughest walk this year; WalkFest Challenge: Mullwharcher on Saturday 6th May.

The WalkFest Challenge: Mullwharcher route is a circular route starting and finishing at Bruce's Stone which follows the Gairland Burn past Loch Valley, along the south side of Loch Neldricken to Craignaw.  It continues through the Deil's Boolin' Green, a stunning area of flat rock littered with boulders and rocks (hence the name), past the Nick of the Dungeon, Craignairny and on to Dungeon Hill. A descent to the east of Loch Enoch followed and then soon after by a steep 200 metres ascent to the top of Mullwharchar.

The return came by the west shore of Loch Enoch, past the Grey Man of the Merrick (pictured) which is beautiful natural sculpture in the rock that resembles a man's face, and along the undulating Buchan ridge finishing with a steep descent to the Buchan Bridge and the track back to Bruce's Stone.

The sun was beaming and so was my face by the end of it, and not just because of the sunburn.  We set off at 7:00am and didn't get back to Bruce's Stone until 5:30pm so it was a fair day's walk but presented the opportunity to walk a good section of the Galloway Hills with views, on the way, of Benyellary, Merrick, Litte Spear, Kirrieoch Hill, Tarfessock and Shalloch on Minnoch.

It was a terrific walk and I'd absolutely recommend you experience whilst you're visiting Newton Stewart & Minnigaff this year.  Many thanks to the organisers and guides from WalkFest who made the day so enjoyable.  We may have been late getting back but it was a wonderful experience and I look forward to using that to venture out myself and with the family over the summer.

WalkFest: Newton Stewart Walking Festival

Festival Line-up Launch

You are cordially invited to Creebridge House Hotel, Minnigaff, on Friday 16th March 2018 from 6pm to hear the confirmed line-up for this year's festival and to reflect on 5 fantastic years so far via photos, film, live music and unique special offer ticket discounts for this year's event.

14 Mar 18
Nathon Jones

Need accommodation?

We have an option, this year, to utilise Minnigaff Youth Hostel which has 26 beds available in 3 rooms - 1 four-bedded, 1 six-bedded and 2 eight-bedded - with 2 showers and 4 toilets. There's ample parking too should you have a motorhome or caravan and are looking for safe overnight parking.

9 Mar 18
Nathon Jones

Kim Carnie @TradFestival 2018

Delighted to be adding Kim Carnie and her trio featuring Euan Burton and Jack Badcock to this year's line-up. Kim, Euan and Jack will perform on Saturday 7th July 2018 at the McMillan Hall, Newton Stewart in a concert that also features ace guitarist Clive Carroll and the outstanding Old Blind Dogs.

25 Feb 18
Nathon Jones

Andy Irvine Live @TradFestival

We can hardly believe it ourselves either, but the one and only Andy Irvine himself will be performing at this year's festival in a special one-off concert in the Festival Marquee to celebrate our 5th anniversary in real style! Tickets on sale from 1st March or buy an early bird weekend pass today!

16 Feb 18
Nathon Jones

New Ticket Booking System Live!

Delighted to announce our new partnership with LIVE IT and, with it, a brand new ticket booking system for the festival. Unlike previous years you'll now receive an e-ticket immediately on purchase which you can print, or bring on a mobile device, to be redeemed for the relevant wristband/s.

14 Feb 18
Nathon Jones

5th Anniversary Year Celebrations!

2018 sees the 5th anniversary of Newton Stewart & Minnigaff Traditional Music & Dance Festival and we're pulling out all the stops to deliver another outstanding event in Wigtownshire. This year sees us host officially registered Scottish Highland Dancing competitions and, as ever, some of the biggest names in traditional music who will be performing over the 3 days. We have the bubbly on ice and can't wait to see you all again in Galloway. The tunes last year were just mighty!

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