• Accessibility
  • Walking

Learning to navigate with the Out There Award

By The Ramblers

Published on 5 min read


Learn how the Ramblers is kickstarting young people’s journeys into the outdoors with their Out There Award and find out how to get involved.

What is the Out There Award?

Since 2019, the Ramblers’ Out There Award has been offering 18 to 26-year-olds in Scotland a free opportunity to gain introductory navigation skills, learn about responsible access and enjoy sociable walks alongside like-minded young adults.

During 2023, the walking charity is running 32 two-day training events at seven locations across Scotland. Find out more and sign up here: www.ramblers.org.uk/outthereaward.

two young people reading an OS Map

Iqra Mahmood, an Out There Award participant based in Glasgow said, “For me, the Out There Award was an amazing step towards learning how to tackle my key anxieties for hiking. What do I need to equip myself with it? Where can I hike? And, importantly, how to do walks safely? Those anxieties were tackled with learning which equipment and what type is used, becoming part of the young walking group after the award, and learning how to keep myself safe and on track. Altogether, I feel less scared and I’m now excited to be part of a walking group and to pick up a new, fun hobby.”

a group of young people walking 

Encouraging young people to get outside

Sam Knight, the Ramblers’ Young Adult Development Officer, said: “We’ve world-class access rights in Scotland and booming numbers out walking, yet sadly too many people still feel the outdoors is not for them, 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. Beginners can also find it intimidating to plan a suitable route then navigate their way around it, so we teach the basic skills needed to use Ordnance Survey maps to get out there on a gentle, introductory walks. “We have co-designed the award alongside young people to ensure the Out There Award offers a friendly, welcoming and safe environment for beginners to try walking, learn basic navigational skills and have fun together.”*

Ramblers’ Young Adult Development Officer

What can you learn?

The Out There Award offers a unique chance to gain introductory outdoor skills, learn about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and enjoy sociable walks alongside like-minded young adults. During the two days of the award, participants learn about:

• Introductory navigation, compass and map skills
• How to be a self-sufficient walker
• How to safely plan a walk
• Access rights and responsibilities
• Outdoor equipment and clothing
• What food and drink to carry

The award specifically aims to break down barriers to walking. During a total of 11 Out There Award events last year, 54% of participants were from minority ethnic backgrounds**, 30% identified as LGBTQI+, 6% were gender diverse and 12% had a disability.

Ramblers Out There Award Learning card 

Where are the events held?

Scottish Government research shows that people in affluent areas are considerably more likely to walk than those in deprived parts of Scotland,*** so the Ramblers also focuses on running award events near residential areas, with public transport and where urban green spaces can be linked to form attractive routes.

Andrew Wu, an Out There Award Participant in Glasgow says, “Being involved with the Out There Award is the best opportunity to get started with a life in the outdoors. You get to learn the fundamentals such as your access rights in Scotland and basic navigation skills, which can really build any newcomers’ confidence. You get a grasp on how to become responsible walker, leave no trace and respect to the natural landscape. I cannot recommend the programme enough. It’s fun, free, and connects you with all the right people who can help you along every step of the way!”

young people hiking with an OS Map

OS and the Out There Award

On completion of the Out There Award, participants receive a year of free Ramblers membership and are linked to our six young walkers groups across Scotland so they can continue building on their new skills.

The free year of Ramblers membership also means that successful Out There Award participants can save 25% on an OS digital maps subscription, while supporting the Rambler’s charitable work. All Ramblers members can get 25% off any new OS Maps Premium annual subscription – paying just £21.75 instead of the usual £28.99. The Ramblers receive £5 for every subscription purchased. An OS digital maps subscription gives unlimited access to all 607 OS leisure maps and over 1.5 million routes across the UK  making it easy to find, plan and follow great walking routes.

The Ramblers also gives Out There Award participants a walking starter pack worth £26, containing useful items such as a survival bag, emergency whistle, timing card, neck buff, tick card and map of your local area, all in a shiny dry bag.

two young girls walking through gate

Sam added: “For hardy veteran hillwalkers, these might sound like small things. You’ve probably got more neck buffs than cupboard space! But for someone taking their first steps into the outdoors, they can make all the difference to having a good day out.”

Heather Thomson, 25 from Glasgow adds “I had a family who was not very active in the outdoors and gathering the needed kit can be overwhelming and costly. I remember thinking where do I start? It is invaluable to have an award that educates young people and provides you with the necessities to get started.”

The Out There Award is possible thanks to generous funding from the Scottish Government and players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It won the Walking Innovation category at the 2021 Scottish Walking Awards.

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By The Ramblers


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