New figures show the huge popularity of hill walking

Posted by Carey Davies on 18/04/2019
The top of Scafell Pike on Easter Saturday 2019. Pic: Fix the Fells

According to new figures, around 2.8 million people regularly go hill walking - making it more 'popular' than football, cricket and rugby put together.

The figure was recorded in Sport England's latest 'Active Lives' survey, which is designed to monitor participation in different sports and activities across the nation.

It estimates hill walking is England's sixth most popular activity, with 2,811,300 regular participants in 'hill and mountain walking'. The survey found there were 315,000 regular participants in 'climbing and bouldering'. 

Previous surveys included both hill walking and climbing under a broader category of 'climbing and mountaineering', but the two were seperated this year for the first time. 

Massive 

The new figures show that as a regular activity hill walking exceeds the popularity of football (2,036,00 regular partcipants), cricket (292,000) and rugby union (228,000) combined. 

Sport England say their research appears to show that the popularity of hill walking is increasing in line with a massive increase in the popularity of walking overall. 

Walkers climbing Scafell Pike via the Brown Tongue route. Photo: Fix the Fells

However, they acknowledge there is a possibility that some of this apparent increase may be attributable to better data capture. For example, respondents to previous surveys may not have recognised hill walking as part of 'climbing and mountaineering', leading to it being under-represented.

So it may be the case that the figures are revealing the 'true' popularity of hill walking as the methodology behind the survey changes, rather than indicating a drastic increase. 

As these are the first results in this form, future surveys will help build up a more accurate picture. 

Climbing

The figure of 315,000 regular participants in 'climbing and bouldering' encompasses both indoor and outdoor climbing.

A breakdown of the split between the two is not yet available.


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25/04/2019
Whilst it's great to see such active participation figures, it does make me wonder why the BMC has a membership of just 82,000 and the Ramblers Association membership is just 123,000. This means that as 'representative bodies' combined they only have 7% of the active participants as members. Perhaps this could be considered by the new management and governance teams....
Anonymous User
11/05/2019
The increase in walking that is shown in the recent survey will also mean more cars being used to reach the areas. I spent Easter week in the S/W area of the Lake District and did not have a car. The only form of local transport between Barrow and Whitehaven is trains. How can we be green, be aware of the need to preserve and leave the wonderful countryside for our descendants without increasing pollution?
Steve Osborne

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