Reading and roaming the beautiful countryside Richmondshire countryside are on the agenda again as the popular Richmond Walking & Book Festival tramps back into this lovely historic town.

Along with nearly 40 walks in and around Richmond and Swaledale, this year’s authors/speakers include Chocolat author Joanne Harris, crime writer Val McDermid, former MP Clare Short, Richmond Castle’s Cell Block Project, Jo Baker (author of Longbourn, which is being released as a film this autumn), Durham poet and novelist Jill Dawson, retired assistant Bishop David Wilbourne (former vicar in Helmsley) and Lonely Planet’s Yorkshire author Neil Wilson.

The festival, now in its 13th year, is run by a dedicated team of local volunteers in conjunction with Swaledale Outdoor Club – 50 this year – and Castle Hill Bookshop. It provides a mix of daytime and evening walks and talks to inspire and invigorate.

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There is a wide selection of graded walks to choose from each day – you can embark on an ambitious climb one day and enjoy an historical stroll the next – complemented in the evening by a varied programme of talks and event, some of which relate to the local area you’re visiting, others which take you off in into completely different subjects. If you prefer to get stuck in, there are also some more participatory events – Poetry Open Mic and Book club discussions

Richmond, on the edge of the northern Yorkshire Dales, is very compact with shops, restaurants, accommodation, Norman castle, River Swale and of course the dales, all within easy walking

distance. Visitors can enjoy films, food and shopping at The Station, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. The Victorian station was reinvented as a cinema and social hub in 2007, and still houses the platform on which passengers used to wait for the train.

Festival highlights

10th anniversary of The Station

September 26

Townsend Suite, The Station, Richmond DL10 4LD, 3pm, £5

The Station celebrates the tenth anniversary of its rebirth in November 2017. This is a talk and slide show on the history of the building from its time as a railway station to its closure and re-opening as a venue for food, film and art. The talk will be followed by a guided tour. “The Station is the most wonderful asset to Richmond," says Carol Watson, of Castle Hill Bookshop. "With its gallery, delicatessen, shops, restaurant and three cinema screens, it complement’s the town’s lovely teashops, galleries and theatre very well indeed and is a perfect example of how an old building can be re-vitalised and given a new lease of life.”

Hugh Thomson – One Man & A Mule – Across England with a Pack Mule

September 27

Richmond Town Hall DL10 4QL, 7.30pm, £6

Strong, sturdy and able to carry a great deal of weight, mules have always made ideal walking companions – as long as you don’t ask them to do anything they don’t want to do. Wainwrght Prize-winning author Hugh Thomson revived that ancient tradition, using his experience of hiking with pack mules across the Andes to have, what he calls, a “south American adventure in England”. He took a stubborn, cantankerous mule called Jethro from the Lake District, across North Yorkshire, through Richmond to the North Sea, using old drovers’ roads and mule tracks that had fallen into disrepair.

A March Through Richmond Castle’s Military Past

September 28

Meet at Richmond Castle’s Main Gate at 2.30pm. Free, but book a place

Join English Heritage’s lead historian to discover the castle’s history from 1854 to World War II. Learn about its rejuvenation by the military after centuries of decline and hear stories of those who worked or were detained here.

Lonely Planet’s Yorkshire author Neil Wilson – It’s Filthy Work But Someone Has To Do It

September 29

Richmond Town Hall DL10 4QL, 7.30pm, £6

Neil Wilson has been writing travel guidebooks for almost 30 years, mostly for publisher Lonely Planet. It’s a job that has taken him to many corners of the world and has provided the opportunity to indulge in some of his favourite pastimes – including walking – while pretending that it was ‘work’. At the festival, he’s talking about the life of a guidebook writer and revisiting some of the more memorable walks that his travels have taken him to.

Joanne Harris – author of A Pocket Full Of Crows, Chocolat and Different Class

September 30

Richmond School Main Hall, DL10 7BQ, 7.30pm, £8

Joanne Harris talks about her dark and magical new novel A Pocketful of Crows (out next month) and her life, from Cambridge graduate to best-selling novelist.

Former MP Clare Short and her Desert Island Books

October 1

Richmond School Main Hall, DL10 7BQ, 7.30pm, £8

Former Labour MP and Secretary of State for International Development between 1997-2003, Clare Short will be in conversation with Judy Moorhouse, former President of the NUT, about the books that have influenced her thinking.

Richmond Walking & Book Festival, September 23-October 1

W: booksandboots.org