NEXT week sees the start of the fifth annual Ride2stride Walking Festival - a week of walks, talks and music along the Settle-Carlisle railway line.

Experienced walk leaders will lead treks from local stations, speakers will share their knowledge and love of the area and pubs will be buzzing with music and song.

“We can’t quite believe it’s been five years," said Chris Grogan, of the festival co-ordinating group. "What started off as a one-off event to celebrate the great walking and music in the Dales has really taken off.

"Last year we had nearly 1,000 participants with visitors from Canada, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia and Ireland. We can’t wait to see who we’ll meet this year.

"Ride2stride is for everyone who loves the Yorkshire Dales. Whether you travel to an event by train, live along the line or book your holiday to take advantage of the festival, we're sure you'll have a great time."

The festival starts on Tuesday with three walks leaving Settle Station at 9.50am (to tie in with the arrival of the 8.49am train from Leeds).

Dr David Johnson, of Ingleborough Archaeology Group, will lead an eight-mile circular walk, looking at the archaeology and geology of the Settle, Little Stainforth and Feizor Thwaite Triangle.

Yorkshire Dales Society chairman Mark Corner will lead a second eight-mile walk, which will take in the Pennine Bridleway, Mitchell Lane, Mark's own woodland and Scaleber Force, and the third walk will cover a ten-mile route, climbing to Jubilee Cave.

The opening day concludes with a talk by Dr Johnson on Old Inns of the Yorkshire Dales at the Settle Friends Meeting House at 7.30pm and live music in the Royal Oak in Settle from 4pm to 11.30pm.

The festival will continue until Bank Holiday Monday, with a choice of 30 guided walks, three talks and live music every night in pubs up and down the line between Settle and Appleby.

Wednesday's itinerary includes a Ribblehead Heritage Tour, looking at the history of the majestic 24-arch viaduct, which spans Batty Moss more than 100 feet below. And there is an optional a five-mile extended tour, which visits Force Gill aquaduct from where the entrance to Blea Moor Tunnel can be viewed.

Also, on Wednesday, Yorkshire Dales Society vice-president Colin Speakman will lead a nine-mile linear walk from Clapham Station to Settle, taking in some spectacular views.

On Thursday, festival-goers can retrace the steps of Lady Anne Clifford - known for her remarkable post-Civil War restoration work at Skipton Castle - from Appleby to Kirkby Stephen or join a circular walk focusing on the changing landscapes on Upper Ribblesdale.

The Tour de Yorkshire arrives in Settle next Friday, April 29, and Ride2stride has organised three walks – two of which get walkers to Settle in time for all the fun and one that keeps them well out of the way until the race is over.

Also, back by popular demand is a visit to Mearbeck Farm at Long Preston - home to the famous Blue Pig Company - where a tour will be led by conservationist David Tayler, farmer Anthony Bradley and RSPB expert Adrian Shepherd.

Other highlights include a guided tour of Appleby Castle, a strenuous walk to High Cup Nick, recently featured on television in Julia Bradbury’s Best Walks with a View, a chance to climb Whernside, the highest of Yorkshire's Three Peaks, a linear walk from Horton-in-Ribblesdale through little visited Crummackdale and a talk on the Settle-Carlisle Line and Three Peaks Project by national park ranger Steve Hastie.

All the events are put on by organisations active in the Yorkshire Dales including the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, Friends of DalesRail, the Yorkshire Dales Society, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Ingleborough Archaeology Group, North Craven Heritage Trust, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and the Three Peaks Folk Club.

“We love being part of Ride2stride," said David Singleton, of the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line. "We lead walks from the Settle Carlisle line all year round and Ride2stride gives us a chance to meet new people and introduce them to the area. It’s a showcase of the best of what’s happening in the Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley."

All the walks are free of charge but there will be a small admission charge to the talks and to Appleby Castle.

For more information, visit the festival website and look out for printed festival programmes at stations and tourist information centres.