Ready to emerge from the winter doldrums and hit ...
Ready to emerge from the winter doldrums and hit the trails this spring? These three UK-based initiatives celebrate diversity in the outdoors, making the British countryside accessible and welcoming to everyone BY AYESHA ALEEM.
Amira Patel from Bolton has a day job at a spa, but spends her non-working hours hiking through the UK in a niqab. Appreciating sunsets and spectacular views is only part of the allure; in addition, Patel wants to normalise seeing people like her on hiking trails and national parks. With that in mind, she launched. The Wanderlust Women during lockdown to encourage and support Muslim women to get outdoors. Walking has become a deeply spiritual experience for Patel: while in nature, she stops at prayer times to perform ablutions in streams and pray under the open sky.
Zahrah Mahmood became the hillwalking hijabi quite by accident: when she somehow found herself scaling Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain, without having planned to. She just started to put one foot in front of the other until eventually, she found herself at the top. Despite not coming from a signiﬁcantly active background, Mahmood is an example of how you don’t need to have perfect ﬁtness levels to hike through the hills. And you can do it with a headscarf too.
What started in 2016 as a family project to get kids off their tech has now grown into a larger movement to promote physical activity. Primarily serving the central Glasgow area, Boots & Beards hosts badminton sessions, annual events like tough mudder and hillwalking, which is one of the best ways to see Scotland’s vast landscapes. As Zain Sehgal, a co-founder and trustee explains, “Our forefathers came to this country to work and send money home. Only this generation, who doesn’t have the same pressures, can now explore locally.”