08 October 2019 by Brendan Paddy
I love all kinds of walks but, if I’m honest, the ones I love most are in the mountains, ideally in remote and wild places that inspire a sense of awe and feel like an adventure.
Those aren’t the walks I do most often, partly because of the time and distance involved but also because of who I walk with most often.
Brendan enjoying a snowy Lochaber hillside with a Ramblers group.
My regular walking buddie tires quickly, sometimes lacks motivation and can be prone to whine and even sometimes to sulk.
To be fair, my son Fergus is nine and my legs are a lot longer than his.
The walks I choose therefore aren’t just those I love most but also the ones that suit the people I love.
Fergus Paddy in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh
We’ve tackled the odd Munro together, but I’ve taken things gradually, because my goal isn’t to push Fergus as hard as I can but, hopefully, to help him to learn to love walking as much as I do and to make him want to walk with me again and again.
There is to some extent a parallel with the walks we organise in our groups.
Many of the walks we plan are the ones we love and perhaps walks that we know will suit the people in our groups who already love walking.
Many groups have had some success with easier walks and others have tried them and found them hard to fill.
Fergus enjoying the sight of a Cairngorms river in full flow.
It is harder to plan walks for people who don’t already walk with us, first, because we might not know what they would really like and second because we can’t be sure they’ll hear about the walk and come.
If only there was a way to reach out people who might be interested in a group walk and offer them exactly the kind of walking experience that would make them want to walk with us and keep walking with us. Luckily, there is!
We now have detailed research about what kinds of walks non-members want. Many people don’t want to walk as part of an organised group but we now have a very good idea about what motivates those who do.
In addition, we’ve developed significant expertise in digital marketing to effectively target exactly the kind of people who might be interested in walking with the Ramblers if we were offering the right kinds of walks for them.
I’ve invited chairs and secretaries of Ramblers Scotland groups to work with the Ramblers staff team to run the successful Introductory Walk for non-members, at some point next spring or early summer – on a day that suits you.
We can provide advice on what that walk should be like, we can help recruit attendees, and we can put in place a process to help you convert the attendees into members.
None of that is worth much though without you.
Can your group help new people try Ramblers group walks?
We need groups that really want to recruit new walkers and are prepared to try something a bit different to help make it happen. You don’t have to make up your mind straight away but at this stage we’d like to hear from you if you’re interested in exploring this idea with us further.
When thinking about whether this is right for your group, please consider that Introductory Walks:
- Need to be relatively short and at a pace and over terrain that is relatively easy – probably no more than 4-6 miles over 2-3 hours.
- Need to be near a quite close to a fairly large town or city – at least 10,000 people and relatively easy for most people to reach quite quickly.
- Ideally, the routes would include some places or features that not everyone will already know – things that will be attractive to people wanting to explore their local area.
- Need to be run at a time so that those who are still working can attend.
- We’ll need the walk to be led by someone who has been through our walk leader training programme and everyone who attends will need to be registered on the Ramblers app.
We’re excited by the potential to attract new people to the Ramblers and I hope that plenty of your groups will consider getting involved.
If you’d like to help your group to get involved, please do get in touch with your group chair or secretary to discuss it further – and then let us know you’re interested before the end of October 2019.