Boots and Beards is helping Glasgow’s Asian population to discover freedom, camaraderie and mental wellbeing in the Scottish mountains
When a recent episode of the BBC’s Countryfile programme examined why BAME people feel the British countryside is a “white environment”, I thought back to a soggy February weekend just west of Glasgow. With Storm Jorge buffeting our car towards the mountains, myself and my husband were discussing our different upbringings while on the way to a weekend with an Asian hiking group, Boots and Beards.
He is from Lancashire and his childhood memories include camping in the countryside and family holidays in Wales and France. Mine – growing up in a Pakistani household in inner-city Birmingham – were different. The furthest I walked was to school and back. Then, in my early 20s, I took up hiking and then mountain climbing – relishing the freedom of the outdoors, the health benefits and expansion of my social horizons. However, venture out into the UK’s hills and mountains and it’s immediately obvious that diversity in our national parks is something of an issue. There is a distinct lack of people who look like me.