Clearly, I haven’t been able to get out onto the hills as much as usual during 2020, but I did manage a couple of trips over to the Lakes in the summer. On one occasion, Ciaran and I had a lovely long day on the fells between Catbells and Dale Head and we noticed a lot more walkers from different ethnic backgrounds than on previous visits. I don’t know if this was peculiar to that day, but it was really encouraging to see. However, that’s just my observation of one well known, generally accessible location on one day.
As a middle-class white man who was handed opportunities to explore the outdoors from a very young age, I’m not qualified to state whether what I witnessed this year reflects genuine change. So it’s excellent to read about the lived experiences of outdoor enthusiasts from different backgrounds, who are actively campaigning to encourage diversity. There’s a great feature on this subject on the Guardian website here. It’s equally uplifting to know that this work has sustained support from the outdoor industry, from the likes of Berghaus, the It’s Great Out There Coalition, European Outdoor Group and others.
What’s less good to see are some of the responses to the Guardian journalist when she tweeted the link to her feature. And of course, those reactions simply highlight why it’s so important to continue backing and celebrating the work of the Hillwalking Hijabi, Black Girls Hike and the Black Swimming Association.