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Outdoors: Get your boots on for this year's Mourne walking festival

The festival is the ideal opportunity to explore the Mournes via organised guided walks

GET your walking boots on and join hundreds of people for the 16th Mourne International Walking Festival, taking place from June 23 to 25.

The Newry, Mourne and Down region is an area of outstanding natural beauty but many people have never walked in the Mourne Mountains. However, the festival, centred in Warrenpoint, offers an ideal opportunity to explore the mountains and enjoy organised guided walks for all abilities, and good company.

The festival traditionally attracts walkers and walking groups from across world. For 2017, organisers are focusing on attracting walkers from the north and those new to hill and mountain walking.

Awarded the 2016 best walking festival and the Mourne Mountains getting the gong last year for best walking destination in Northern Ireland, there's no excuse for not heading to the hills.

Newry Mourne, Down District Council chairperson Gillian Fitzpatrick said: “The festival programme offers 10 walks – including a fantastic mix of guided and self-guided walks to suit various levels of fitness.

"There are some stunning photo opportunities too. For strollers or those with younger families, the lowland routes are pre-marked allowing you to walk at your own pace with refreshments at control points at intervals along the route.

“We've seen a great surge of interest in mountain walking in recent years for its health benefits and leisure appeal so we'd hope this will be our biggest walking festival yet."

Pre-booking is open and there are significant savings for early registration. Alternatively, people can register on the morning of the walks. All walkers receive a T-shirt.

Young people under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The event culminates with a social blister ball, hosted in the Lough & Quay, Warrenpoint.

:: For full details of the walks and other information visit www.mournewalking.co.uk or contact Warrenpoint Tourist Office on 028 4175 2256 or info@mournewalking.co.uk

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