New research highlights need for Ramblers’ work to open the way for all walkers

Our love of walking in the great outdoors has grown during the pandemic and isn’t stopping. 92% of UK adults agree it’s a popular, ‘on trend’ hobby, new research conducted for the Ramblers has revealed.

People have also increasingly enjoyed walking as a way of boosting their health and wellbeing over the past two years, researchers found. Over three quarters (78%) felt their mental health would have suffered had they not been able to walk outdoors in the fresh air. 70% said that the simple pleasures of walking helped them to clear their head. As Britain faced lockdown restrictions, walking also helped over half (56%) to feel less trapped, and provided purpose for 47% of those polled.

More work to do so everyone can walk their way

The new research highlights the value of the Ramblers’ 86 year old aim to open the way so everyone can enjoy walking in green spaces, and to preserve and improve hundreds of thousands of miles of well-loved paths, tracks and trails across England, Scotland, and Wales.

The need for our work to continue and grow is underscored by the research finding that whilst 77% of people feel they have easy, accessible walking routes near where they live, over half (52%) still feel apprehensive about walking in the countryside. The main reason was fear of getting lost (28%), whilst 17% of those surveyed worried about not knowing where they can and cannot walk. This is especially true for younger people. More 18-24 year olds were fearful of getting lost (39%) or not knowing where it is ok to walk (23%), than any other age group. Overall, two thirds of people agreed that routes should be more clearly marked.

The Ramblers, Britain’s biggest and most vibrant walking community, are doing everything they can to address this. For example, we call on Government for equality of access to the countryside. We have a growing number of walking groups for younger walkers. We enable people to gain the skills and confidence to enjoy countryside walking via our group walks, our walk leader training and the Ramblers Scotland Out There Award, which opens up walking to young people. Meanwhile, all year round, teams of Ramblers volunteers keep paths clear and well-maintained for everyone to enjoy. This includes putting up waymarks to help walkers know they’re sticking to the right path.

But we want to do even more to inspire and encourage everyone, everywhere to enjoy walking. Tompion Platt, Director of Operations and Advocacy for the Ramblers, said:

Now more than ever, it’s important for everyone to be able to easily access green space and connect with nature. We’ll continue to work tirelessly, but with more support we can do even more to ensure the joys of walking are fully open to everyone.”

Find out more about how joining the Ramblers not only opens your way to falling in love with the great outdoors, re-connecting with nature and getting healthier, but also supports our work.