We Go Outside Too: The Healing Power of Nature

Trekking in Spain with We Go Outside Too

Founded in 2020 by Marlon Patrice, We Go Outside Too (WGOT) is a UK community group that aims to enable and empower Black inner-city communities through outdoor activities. Marlon Patrice has become a prominent figure in the outdoor industry ever since, championing the positive benefits that nature and the outdoors brings to support wellbeing. We invited WGOT to join us for a hike in Spain to find out more about who they are and what they stand for.

 

Who are WGOT?

 

In 2020, I tragically lost my son Nasir to knife crime. Knife crime was a concern for the inner-city community, but I never imagined it could happen to our family. I found that being in the outdoors helped me to process my grief and provided me some comfort. I discovered the healing power that being in nature brought and I knew then that I wanted to share the positive benefits it brings with others.

I set up We Go Outside Too to give young people in the area the opportunities to access nature-based outdoor activities to help improve health and wellbeing. My hope was to find a way of helping young people in my local black community to stay away from gangs and violence, encouraging peace and unity to prevent future tragedy like ours.

 

Why do you feel being in the outdoors is important?

To WGOT, the outdoors symbolises freedom, connection and adventure. Our ethos is to provide a safe space and opportunity for the community to come together and explore the natural world.

Being in nature is a healing experience. It allows us to step back from our anxieties and focus on the present moment with each other. It has taught me to take in every moment of the journey and allow life to happen without the need to be in control of it.

Surrounded by good company, you get a real sense of belonging. Ultimately when we’re on a hike, we’re all going through the same human experience and the challenges that it brings. By looking out for each other and working as a team, a strong bond is created, and we always get each other through. Our trip to Spain was a good example of this.

As a group we have plenty of experience in hiking shorter trails across the rolling English hills, but we don’t usually take on longer hikes in tougher terrain like we did in Spain. It was a challenge, but together we were able to complete each section of the hike in a fun way.

 

Where did you hike in Spain?

We hiked La Catedral del Senderismo, known as “The Cathedral of Hiking”. It’s a 14km circular route around Barranc de l’Infern that starts at an initial elevation of 440m in the town of Fleix in the municipality of La Vall de Laguar. The route is also labelled as PR-CV 147 and is well-signposted along the way.

Zig-zagging our way along the route, every view of the landscape was breathtaking. My personal favourite part of the hike was reaching the second highest peak, a little past the halfway point. From there, in the far distance behind you, you can see the starting point of the trail. I felt a real sense of accomplishment at that point which really pushed me to finish the route. Looking ahead to the next section of trail, you can see a completely different landscape with scorched trees and white flowers. It is one of the most beautiful sights on the route.

 

What was the most rewarding moment?

Although the route we took wasn’t technically difficult, it was physically demanding due to the continuous ascents and descents, and the steep and rocky terrain. It really tested both our physical and mental endurance. At times my body felt like it wanted to quit, but we all supported each other and listened to our bodies when we needed to rest. I was glad to be doing it with my friends as it felt like we were all going through a 'collective healing' journey together.

It was a rewarding experience to be able to create a safe space to be vulnerable and enjoy each other’s company, without feeling the need to be someone else other than ourselves. I was able to be myself, and I got to watch my friends be themselves too. Seeing them being curious, crazy, creative, and everything in between, is something that I am here for! We also enjoyed getting to know new faces and learning about their stories and experiences in the outdoors, allowing us to become relatable to one another.

Outside of the hike, I also enjoyed experiencing the Spanish cultural approach to slow living. The pace was very different compared to the UK, which was refreshing to observe. It was interesting to see how important it is for people and families in Spain to connect by eating and conversing around the dinner table, bringing togetherness and interaction within the family. We are always normalising constant labour and we forget that we are human, with a body and soul that needs rest, leisure, silence and space just to be.

What's next for WGOT?

Find out more about We Go Outside Too by visiting their website, wegooutsidetoo.com, or follow @wegooutsidetoo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin.