Earlier this year we launched our Getting into Hiking programme for 12 women new to/returning to hiking. The programme targeted women who felt unable to join existing community walks due to low fitness and/or long term health conditions or injury.
Following an online intro session, participants were invited to participate in five walks of different lengths in the Peak District. The aim was to enable them to build confidence, fitness and gain experience on different terrain in a safe and supportive group, making them feel confident enough to join Adventure Queen or other walking group community events in the future.
We’ve recently finished this programme and are really delighted with the results!
In a post programme survey, participants told us as a result of the programme they felt more confident hiking independently as well as walking on different and uneven terrain. They also said they were much more likely to join a walking group following the programme, and were more likely to organise and lead a walk for their friends/family (something very few of them would have done before).
I’d love to introduce you to three of our participants:
Helen had always been active, but her second bout of cancer and resulting chemotherapy left her with extensive scarring in her chest, and reduced lung function. Her recovery has been tough and she has spent the last 15 years trying to overcome the resulting physical and mental barriers to going hiking, particularly up hills.
Speaking to Helen after the programme was really quite emotional for me, and reaffirmed how important this programme is. She described the experience as “life changing” and said, although she felt anxious before the programme started, the pressure lifted after the first walk as a result of the positive, supportive atmosphere that was created by walk leader Suzanne. Helen described it “like a lightbub moment” and that her internal dialogue shifted from negative thoughts about her own ability and lack of confidence to “you can do this”.
Helen now plans to do a navigation course to further build up her skills and confidence and has her sights set on climbing a mountain – something she has avoided for so long.
Since having her two children, Amy hadn’t been very active and had low levels of fitness. She wanted to join the programme to raise her hiking confidence back up with other women in similar circumstances.
“I surprised myself with what i was able to do”, Amy said about the programme and realised that many of her barriers were “in her head”. She now hopes to go out hiking more, including with her children, and has a long-term goal of doing her first ever thru hike.
Nasira applied to join the programme to build her confidence back up after not being out walking regularly for a long time. Particularly as a muslim woman wearing traditional dress, she felt uncertain about how she might be perceived in other walking groups.
She described the ‘Getting into Hiking programme’ as “powerful and wonderful” and enjoyed being in a group of supportive women from a range of backgrounds.
Nasira is now in the process of becoming a National Trust volunteer to help her get outdoors more, as well as to encourage other people from ethnic minority groups to do the same.
Following the programme, through the YHA’s Outdoor Citizens initiative, we received additional funding to enable all women to participate in a follow on navigation course to further develop their skills.
This first Getting into Hiking programme was heavily subsidised, thanks to the generous support of the Outdoor Citizens initiative and Sport England. However, we’d love to expand the programme to reach more women across the country. Potential funders or funding leads please email email@example.com