Before I joined a walking group, this was a question I asked myself. I could go for a walk when ever I wanted and where ever I wanted. But for some reason, I still didn’t.
During usual banter at work someone suggested the only way to know who is more fit is to go up Snowdon. No one wanting to seem to wimp out, every one agreed to give our selves 6 weeks to increase our stamina for the walk.
I started walking 3-4 times a week in the evenings if the weather allowed. But the walks would never be more the 3 miles and flat. I tried the tread mill but would get bored in 20 mins. I decided to go for an 8 mile walk with a Bradford based Walking group. It was free, there were people of all ages and they turned out to be a very friendly talkative sort of group. Only problem was, I found it extremely difficult to walk uphill during the walk and often found myself at the end of the group. Not that it was a problem, they would stop very often and allow everyone to catch up.
It was an eye opener to realise that if today we walked up Snowdon, I would not be able to do it. But the positive was the tips I got from the group. The following week I decided to go for a walk with a different group. This was a more difficult walk. I asked myself a few times why am I doing this. I never thought I was so unfit. Every one in this group had gone up Snowdon via different routes multiple times. They gave me even more tips to allow myself to be ready in a few weeks.
A few days later when I was looking to sign up to a walk, I found an Asian walking group. Call it what you want. Just the fact they were Asian was enough for me to sign up (Just to clarify I had lovely company on the other walks who made me feel very welcomed). The Walk with the Asian group was probably the least challenging I had done. I was not tired at the end and there were discussions among the serious walkers of extending it. The group leader was a very nice lady who tried to keep the walk manageable for beginners and not to discourage them from continuing to come on future walks. Here I met a gentleman who suggested I do a walk up Snowdon before going with my colleagues. For practice. He volunteered to go with me. The following weekend we set off at 5 AM and completed the walk, that was difficult for me in 6 hours. Drove back and that was it. In 4 weeks from 3 miles around Bradford to the highest mountain in England Wales was not bad for me. Considering I am an over weight smoker. I did another walk with a Yorkshire based group the following week and the 6th week I went up Snowdon with my colleagues without embarrassing myself.
That should have been it and I guess there was not much reason for me to continue this interest. Since the challenge was over and I did struggle on most of the walks. But driving home from work one evening an ad was on the radio suggesting south Asians are at higher risk of Diabetes, Blood pressure and heart problems. 2 years ago my GP referred me to a dietitian because of my weight. It had already been suggested the cause of my weight was my lack of activity. Now with the NHS promoting on the radio, I thought, I might as well continue this. I had been to places I never thought I would visit. I had met people other wise I would never have. I achieved something I did not think was possible in 4 weeks.
I started to take an interest in the Asian group. Even if the group did not organise a walk, we would go with another group. In a few month I started leading walks at the request of the organiser and later became a co-organiser. Throughout 2018-2019 the group has walked up multiple mountains, Including Ben Nevis, Snowdon, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Goatfell. We have gone to the most beautiful areas in the UK. Being part of a larger group meant there was always some one willing to do what you wanted to do and the costs were kept to a minimum.
So this is how I got into a walking group and continued with this interest. I cant see myself ever giving up the hobby. I cant see any other activity that provides you an opportunity to see so many places, Low cost, Family friendly and a great way to meet new people.
The organisers of Mulaqaat are keen hikers and explorers. We intend to be going on international trips in the future as well. If you need any information about how to get into mountain climbing, hiking, camping or any outdoor activity, please get in touch. If there is a certain part of the country you would like a walk organised in. Give us a shout.