Spending time outdoors with new people provides a great opportunity to build your confidence and experience in a particular activity such as hiking, camping or climbing. However, it can be quite daunting and sometimes difficult to meet outdoorsy people at first. Particularly if your existing social circles aren’t inclined to spend time outside. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to meet new people and make friends with likeminded outdoor enthusiasts, some of which I’ll outline in this post.
Making friends as an adult can be quite difficult. Even more so if you’re self-employed, work remotely or recently moved to a new area. When I first moved to Devon, The Favourite Human was the only person I knew. It’s taken me a while to meet new friends and connect with other outdoorsy people but it’s been hugely rewarding so far. I’ve discovered so many incredible walks as a result of meeting likeminded friends who were keen to introduce me to new trails!
Join a Local Group
This is a great way of meeting new people, particularly if you’ve just moved to a new area. There are all sorts of groups you can join, from local online Facebook Groups to physical climbing gyms or walking groups. Many of these groups organise regular meet ups and events too. I’ve attended beach cleans, group walks and even SUP networking sessions as a result of joining local groups. You can search for online groups based on location, activity or even the type of community you’re hoping to join. If you prefer to meet outdoorsy people in person, why not enrol with a local activity centre or sports team? When I first moved down to Cornwall for university, I met a lot of local friends through the gymnastics club I joined. Those friends later introduced me to gig rowing, a sport unique to the south west of England and I ended up competing at the World Pilot Gig Championships in 2015!
You can take this one step further by keeping an eye out for opportunities that enhance your career too. Whether that’s volunteering for a local organisation, or seeking out paid roles within the outdoor industry. This is exactly what I did when I knew I wanted to learn more about climbing. In fact, one of the main reasons I accepted my marketing role for The Tide Climbing Centre in Cornwall was because I was actively looking for career opportunities that enabled me to get to know the local climbing community and learn more about the sport as part of my role. Of course, you by no means need to take it to this extreme. However you’ll be surprised how many outdoorsy people you can meet, even through volunteering for a one-off project or event.
Reach Out on Social Media
The taboo of meeting people online has diminished significantly. Even more so in light of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic. Whether platonically or romantically, the majority of my adult friends (the ones I didn’t go to school with) I met through a digital platform. The Favourite Human and I have the Tinder algorithm to thank for our first encounter and I met the majority of friends that I walk with through Instagram. In fact, the main motivation behind launching The Cornish Dog was to help me meet new people I could walk Woody with in Cornwall.
Of course, make sure you stay safe when organising to meet up with people from the internet. However social media provides a useful tool in connecting you with likeminded outdoorsy people. It’s also a great place to learn more about a specific activity and introduce yourself to the wider outdoor community. I’ve met so many inspirational people, brands and publications through following them on social media. Both in the south west and the UK as a whole. There are plenty of discussions to get involved with too. I’d highly recommend reaching out to people through social media, particularly if you’re nervous of meeting people in person. Liking someone’s post and leaving a comment or a message is a great first step out of your comfort zone.
Embark on a Solo Adventure
If you’re more experienced in a particular outdoor activity, why not organise your own solo adventure? I met so many people through my 125 mile solo hike of the Cornish Coast Path in 2019. Many of whom I was introduced to through friends or social media. I’m a firm believer that no solo adventure is truly achieved by a single person. You rely on so many other people for help along the way. From accommodation owners, local eateries and the new friends you meet along the way who keep you motivated when you want to quit.
It doesn’t have to be an extreme or overly fancy adventure either! Simply organising a series of longer walks or day trips in your local beauty spot will naturally increase your chances of bumping into outdoorsy people who also enjoy spending time on the trails. It can seem daunting at first, especially if you’re not used to sparking up conversations with strangers. However, the more you do it, the more confident you’ll feel. Plus you’ll have an awesome adventure story to share afterwards!
Get a Dog
Getting a dog is a huge responsibility and something that you should definitely take time to consider thoroughly. However, since adopting Woody and later Hen, I’ve met so many new people. From friends I walked with regularly in Cornwall, to local business owners and even The Favourite Human; getting dogs has been hands down one of the best highlights of my twenties! Furthermore, owning dogs has increased the time I spend outdoors exponentially, come rain or shine. It’s also given me the confidence to get out and explore the outdoors regularly on my own. I definitely wouldn’t have started long distance hiking, paddle boarding or wild camping if I didn’t have Woody and Hen in tow.
If you’ve been thinking about adding a four legged friend to your life for a while and are in a position to dedicate the time and investment they need, I’d definitely encourage you to take the leap. The dog community is incredibly friendly and supportive. It’s a great way to connect with all sorts of new people, while also discovering new locations. I personally think time spent outdoors is infinitely better with your dog!
What are your tips for someone looking to meet outdoorsy people? How did you connect with the outdoor lovers in your life?
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