• Mountain Training

Walk Together Pathway launched


New project is improving representation in the outdoors by training 100 new walk leaders from global majority communities



A new project that aims to improve representation in the outdoors by  supporting people from the global majority to become qualified walk leaders has seen 17 participants successfully complete their first stage of training.

Aspiring walk leaders from eight groups representing people from the global majority began their training in last month. The project, called the Walk Together Pathway, brings together Black Girls Hike, Black2Nature, Bristol Steppin Sistas, Mosaic Outdoors, Muslim Hikers, NYCE (Nature, Youth, Connection, and Education), Peak District Mosaic and Sheffield Environmental Movement.

Despite representing 15% of the population in England and Wales, people from the global majority are widely under-represented in the outdoors, accounting for only 1% of National Park visitors in 2019. (Source: Campaign to Protect Rural England)

Cost and access are key barriers encountered by people regardless of their ethnicity, but for people from the global majority, these challenges are coupled with a lack of representation in the outdoors, which leads to the feeling that they might not be welcome in outdoor spaces, as well as fear of discrimination and cultural differences.

The fundamental aim of the Walk Together Pathway project is that as many people as possible are supported to enjoy the outdoors, to understand more about the natural world and the extreme challenges it is facing, and ultimately be motivated to take positive action to care for it. The Pathway aspires to address the lack of representation and feeling of belonging that prevents people from the global majority from enjoying the outdoors by training 100 new walk leaders over the next three years, building skills, knowledge, and confidence. As a result of training more walk leaders, it is estimated that approximately 10,000 people will benefit from the increased capacity these walking groups will have.

Maxine from Sheffield Environmental Movement, one of the Pathway participants, said: "I want to mentor and coach other individuals from African and Asian minoritised backgrounds. The more people have access to the outdoors and can enjoy this wonderful natural environment that we have on our doorstep, the more people will care about it. If we don't consider ourselves custodians of this beautiful world, then we are losing a very rich and diverse environment that we're all part of. Our air comes from the trees - if there are no trees, there's no us. It's as simple as that!"

Participants will be undertaking Lowland Leader, Hill and Moorland Leader, or Mountain Leader qualifications through the awarding body Mountain Training, to equip them with the skills, confidence, and knowledge to devise safe and enjoyable walks for groups of different abilities, in a variety of different terrains. Once training is completed, they will gain further experience before attending an assessment and if successful, become qualified.

A spokesperson for the eight walking groups in the Walk Together Pathway said: “The outdoors is open to everyone. You don’t need a qualification to go out walking or running, or enjoy it in other ways. But we know that some people need extra support to take that step into the outdoors. Groups like ours bring likeminded people together and act as that bridge to the unknown. The Walk Together Pathway will go some way to make sure that our eight groups can support as many people as we can from the communities we represent to explore our wonderful natural landscapes and be inspired to take action to care for them.”

The project is funded through a Gift in Will left to the National Trust, and coordinated by the Trust. It is supported by Beyond The Edge, Mountain Training, Ordnance Survey, Plas y Brenin, The Ramblers, Sport England and the Youth Hostel Association. This coalition of organisations is providing mentoring, accommodation, and equipment such as maps, and running the courses, including the main qualifications and additional courses such as First Aid.

A spokesperson for the outdoors supporters said: “In the past, large organisations like ours have often not understood the needs of underrepresented communities. Walk Together Pathway is the result of listening to walking groups tell us what support we can give them that would most help their inspiring work, which has transformed access to the outdoors for so many people. We hope that through this project, we can play our small part in bringing about the systemic change needed to make sure that everyone can enjoy the essential benefits that time in green space and nature brings.”