Clare McLoughlin shares some of her favourite hiking Meetup groups in London with W4A. What makes Clare so inspiring is that she only took up hiking 2 years ago and has since trekked through the Sahara Desert and up Mt. Toubkal in Morocco. Over to Claire…
Your Answer to Escaping the City
Have you always wanted to try hiking, but are worried about getting lost in the countryside? Maybe none of your friends are really into that kind of thing, or maybe you’ve just moved to a new city and are struggling to find any friends.
Walk into any train station in London early on a Saturday morning and you will see dozens of people dressed in hiking gear, some will clearly be seasoned hikers, others will be there in old trainers looking terrified, they will be part of a hiking Meetup.
Meetup is an app that allows anyone to set up their own club, there is something for everyone and there are plenty of outdoor and adventure clubs for Londoners on there, with everything from getaway weekends in Wales to kayaking down the River Thames. Day hikes are probably the most popular category in the adventure Meetups for Londoners, most groups include the cost of the train ticket in their price, so all you have to do is turn up at the station with sensible shoes, plenty of water and a packed lunch. There are dozens of clubs for you to try out, I have tried many of these clubs, and here I am going to review my 3 favourite London hiking clubs.
Best For: The Nervous Hiker
The leader of Adventureologist is Som, a friendly laid-back guide who has guided hikes all around the world. When I first started hiking with this group I had a serious phobia of dogs and cows, Som was incredibly understanding of this, and helped me to start overcoming this phobia. Whilst I’m still nervous around dogs and cows, I’m far from terrified. Som will always make sure he gets to know everyone on the train, but particularly anyone new to the group and will introduce you to members of the group if you have come by yourself. Som’s experience of leading all types of hikers from all around the world guarantees a relaxed and enjoyable day for everyone.
Best For: The Curious Hiker
This group is run by the delightful couple Tania and Keiron, who have been running the group for several years. Tania is highly efficient and organised ensuring everything runs incredibly smoothly throughout the day and will stay at the back with her trusted walkie talkie. Keiron will lead from the front – he has a wealth of knowledge, covering everything from history to nature, at every break Keiron will delight you with historical stories of the local area and facts about the local wildlife. Having 2 guides in this group allows for people to walk much more at their own pace.
Best For: The Enthusiastic hiker
This group is probably one of the best-established groups, with at least one hike scheduled every Saturday and Sunday all year round. Outdooraholics has a very clear grading system for each of their hikes, so make sure you check before you sign up. The “Advanced hikes” are very fast paced over difficult terrain filled with very dedicated hikers, if this is your first ever hike, I’d strongly recommended you sign up for a beginner’s hike. There are several people who will lead on an Outdooraholics hike, all the leaders are friendly, organised and highly skilled and will put you straight at ease if it is your first ever hike.
About the Author: Clare McLoughlin is a Physics Teacher and Girl Guiding volunteer in Central London. She took up hiking just over two years ago and has since trekked through the Sahara Desert and up Mt. Toubkal.
While you’re here, check out our top 5 greatest long distance hikes in the UK.