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'Outdoor' Challenges for a Hill-Starved Nation

© Rory Southworth

Whether it's climbing your stairs to match the height of Snowdon, camping in the back garden, or filling social media with imaginative home climbing or skiing videos, outdoor enthusiasts the world over have been finding quirky ways to stay fit and occupied during lockdown. Two new campaigns launched this week aim to help keep people active and having fun.

Rory Southworth on his way to everest basecamp last week  © Rory Southworth
Rory Southworth on his way to everest basecamp last week
© Rory Southworth


The Ordnance Survey have partnered with a number of outdoor brands to encourage the nation to 'Step Up to the Challenge', a social media mass event in which people can notch up some hefty ascents without leaving their own homes.

The plan is to set a new record for the most people stepping at once.

"We need you! Whether you climb a small hill on a doorstep or summit Snowdon on your staircase, every step counts. So, find somewhere to do your steps and join us at 12pm this Thursday 9 April" they say.

"Lockdown may have changed the way we spend time outdoors, but together we can achieve amazing things from home..."

1800 steps gains you the equivalent ascent of The Shard, they reckon, while others will aim bigger, totalling enough steps to 'earn' Ben Nevis. Or how about the ultimate challenge, Everest in 52,047 steps?

Anyone can take part by videoing themselves doing the steps at 12 noon on Thursday 9th. Upload your video to Instagram and tag @ordnancesurvey with the number of steps you've done using #GetOutsideInside (to be in with a shot at the Guinness world record they need vids uploaded by 1pm at the latest). You can also find out which building or hill you've climbed the equivalent of by entering your figure here.


We might be stuck at home and socially distant, but making an effort to remain active is arguably more important than ever for both physical and mental health. To help a nation in isolation stay sane, a new campaign called #roamsweethome is also being launched today by walking charity the Ramblers.

The aim is to encourage people to keep active, both close to home and indoors, as well as inspiring and connecting people who love walking and the outdoors.

Gemma Cantelo, the Ramblers' Head of advocacy and engagement said:

"The Ramblers has been around for a long time, through tough days and the bright days. We will continue to fight for the rights of walkers, for the protection of our important green spaces and for the joys of walking. But together we're stronger, and we wanted to do something to build on all the fantastic work our members have been doing locally since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown began. #roamsweethome offers them lots of practical ways of staying safe, linking up, being inspired, keeping active and just having some much-needed fun."

All group walks and other events have been cancelled since late March, but by tapping into the community spirit and creativity of its 100,000 members across Britain, the Ramblers hope #roamsweethome will provide welcome advice, activities and entertainment - in line, of course, with official Government guidance on social distancing and safe exercising.

Like the Ordnance Survey's effort, the Ramblers campaign also includes a step challenge.

"The joy of walking can be felt anywhere" say the Ramblers "from a hike up the stairs, a jog on the balcony, a stroll in the garden, to a wander in a nearby park that follows official guidelines on exercising."

It's hoped that walkers all over the country will join in, working on their 'step counts' even though everyone is stuck at home. People will be able to share their photos and experiences of getting active at home, in their gardens or out on their daily exercise, both on social media and via email.

For those who do get outdoors, the advice on safe exercise is that you should walk for exercise only locally to where you live. You should walk alone or only with people from your household, not in groups, and keep 2m (6ft) distance from anyone you pass.

Online advice will be available on maintaining health and wellbeing in the present trying circumstances, including recipes for walking snacks, live chats and online blogs from health and nutrition experts.

People will be sharing photos and stories of their favourite, pre-lockdown walking memories, as well as things spotted whilst out for their daily exercise.

Resources and information will be on offer to help the Ramblers 500 groups across the UK stay connected with their members, via 'telephone trees', message boards, email groups, online conference calls and virtual coffee mornings.

Also promised is a Ramblers-themed quiz, to be streamed in the coming weeks using Facebook Live.

Broadcaster, writer, journalist and RamblersGB president Stuart Maconie, who is backing #roamsweethome, tweeted: "I'm about to get my steps in for @RamblersGB and thousands of walkers across the country to keep moving, one step at a time. People roaming close to home for health and happiness. Show me what fun ways you're getting that step count up!"

Deborah Hyde of the Ramblers works on her home step count   © Ramblers
Deborah Hyde of the Ramblers works on her home step count


Irrespective of organised campaigns, outdoor enthusiasts the world over have found themselves stuck at home with time to kill, and rather than dwelling on what they can't do, many have tried to make the best of it. From camping in the back garden to producing animated home skiing videos, people seem to be determined to have 'outdoor' fun somehow. Well it probably beats watching another box set.

Here are a few ideas:

Day 4 on the #virtualEBC, getting such great support from everyone! . . . The Virtual EBC Expedition is a five day journey of ascending the daily height of the Everest Base Camp Trek from your own home. With today's height being 590m. . Feel free to start your solo journey to EBC or even catch us up! . . Follow our journey on my stories and from the below team: @keenan.wills @harvmania @davpye @gillymcarthur @gymwithgemma @tinaremiz @microadventuregirl @joshuabrex @steviecbarker @fellfoodie @hike_this_way @jamiemiranda1 @eddiefitz7 @leography @will.h.p.runsonplants @freya_adventureawaits @larakateadventures @beckythetraveller @maggie_outdoors @mattgibsonadventure @missblowfish @walking_with_thepoles @joeday83 @outdoor__exploits @roshawes @raineyrebs @amberosebrown @stivesmermaid #virtualebc . . . . . #timetoplayinside #expedition #everest #everestbasecamp #everstbasecamptrek #stayhome #adventureculture #adventureisoutthere #adventureisoutthere #adventurer #ukhiking #ukhillwalking #indoorsoutdoors #getoutside #ordnancesurvey

A post shared by Rory Southworth (@rorysouthworth) on

Charge the day! . I'm two days into leading the #virtualEBC Expedition and I have only lost two of my team on the mountain and one to injury so far, I'm calling it a success! But we must carry on and conquer, we still have 4 more days to go! . The Virtual EBC Expedition is a five day journey of ascending the daily height of the Everest Base Camp Trek from your own home. With today's height being 430m. . Feel free to start your solo journey to EBC or even catch us up! . . Follow our journey on my stories and from the below team: @keenan.wills @harvmania @davpye @gillymcarthur @gymwithgemma @tinaremiz @microadventuregirl @joshuabrex @steviecbarker @fellfoodie @hike_this_way @jamiemiranda1 @eddiefitz7 @leography @will.h.p.runsonplants @freya_adventureawaits @larakateadventures @beckythetraveller @maggie_outdoors @mattgibsonadventure @missblowfish @walking_with_thepoles @joeday83 @outdoor__exploits @roshawes @raineyrebs @amberosebrown @stivesmermaid #virtualebc . . . . . #timetoplayinside #expedition #everest #everestbasecamp #everstbasecamptrek #stayhome #adventureculture #stayhomeuk #adventureisoutthere #adventureawaits #adventureculture #ukhiking #ukhillwalking #indoorsoutdoors #getoutside #ordnancesurvey

A post shared by Rory Southworth (@rorysouthworth) on


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