Out There Award

Out There

Ramblers Scotland are empowering young people to get outdoors and create a new generation of walkers.

Ramblers Scotland is empowering young people to get ‘out there’ and experience the outdoors.

It’s well documented that spending time in the outdoors can boost your physical and mental wellbeing in a number of ways. It can be easy to think that everyone finds it easy to go walking in the outdoors. However, through research commissioned by Ramblers Scotland it is apparent that that isn’t the case for everyone.

The research found that behind the ‘Scottish’ weather, young people highlighted their two biggest barriers to getting out walking were: a lack of knowledge and awareness of where to go for a walk, and a lack of people to go with.

The Out There Award was launched to breakdown these and other barriers to walking, and designed to kick-start 18 to 26-year-olds’ journeys into the outdoors, all while meeting new people and building their confidence.

The award teaches outdoor skills to those who otherwise may feel that walking and the outdoors isn’t for them and has been made possible through support from Active Scotland and the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places initiative.

Young people have helped co-design the award to ensure it offers a fun, free and welcoming environment so that everyone, regardless of your background, experience and location can take part.

Ramblers Scotland’s young adult development officer Sam Knight said: “We’ve amazing landscapes and world-class access rights in Scotland, but sadly too many people still feel walking isn't for them, often simply due to their background, ability or age. We know that young adults in particular can lack walking partners and knowledge of where to walk. The Out There Award offers a welcoming environment for beginners to try walking, learn navigational skills and have fun.

"We aim to bring outdoor skills to people's doorsteps and leave participants feeling confident that the outdoors is for them, whatever their adventure.”

The award is held over two days, with each day focusing on something different. Day one offers basic training in outdoor skills that are needed to begin enjoying the great outdoors safely. Day two is all about putting the new skills into practice through a local walk with other participants.

Walks are tailored to the group and held in accessible locations, so that transport and budget aren’t barriers. Participants don’t even need any specialist equipment or clothing to get involved.

It’s hoped that by the end of the two days participants will have a broad understanding of how to plan walks, navigate around them and most importantly feel confident and inspired to get outdoors more. Participants will also receive a year’s membership with the Ramblers so they can take part in other organised walks and a starter pack containing navigation and safety equipment.

Increase in confidence

The award has proven to have a big impact on its participants. Through 2023, 103 young adults have gone through the award and on completion, 96% of participants reported feeling confident or extremely confident that they now have the skills and knowledge to enjoy walking safely; up from 36% in the pre-award survey. 

Among the young people who have gone through the award are Iqra Mahmood and Caitlin McCollum-Martinez.

Iqra is based in Glasgow and has gained so much from taking part in the award. She said:

“For me, the Out There Award was an amazing step towards learning how to tackle my key anxieties for hiking.

"Since doing the award I feel less scared and I’m now excited to be part of a walking group and to pick up a new fun hobby.”

Caitlin moved to the UK last year from California and is now one of the Out There Award ambassadors. The award has helped her from a social aspect in meeting lots of new people. She said:

“I like how walking in Scotland has encouraged me to be more social. I’ve met a lot of people in the time I’ve lived here who help encourage me to get out there more often. Though I’m an introvert, I try to challenge myself to go on social walks with others as well as to lead walks for local groups. I’ve found a nice community of like-minded people through my participation in the Out There Award offered by Ramblers Scotland. 

Deliver locally

The award is currently delivered by Ramblers Scotland staff and a team of outdoor instructors across Scotland, but there is scope to expand the programme and are looking for people in roles in local areas to deliver the sessions, so that more young people can experience the outdoors.

If you attend, or work with groups of 18 to 26-year-olds who you think would benefit from the programme, then the Ramblers Scotland would love to hear from you. Staff members will be trained by experienced Ramblers staff and will learn the Out There Award syllabus to deliver the award locally and create a new generation of walkers.

Find out more


Share links

Related Articles

Aiden Moffat E1710857767998 845X423 Resize

Empowering Youth Through Judo

Tayside Judo project aimed to enhance young people's mental health 

Read More
Active Schools participants pose with their local coordinator

Inspiring the Community

Bringing outdoor sport and rural inclusion into the heart of their programme.

Read More
Female paddler in action

Focus On ... Paddlesport

The future of Paddlesport in Scotland looks brighter than ever before. 

Read More