Amira Patel is encouraging Muslim women to explore the great outdoors

Amira Patel is encouraging Muslim women to explore the great outdoors

A woman who was inspired to discover the great outdoors by the moorland around her home town is encouraging fellow women from the Muslim community to enjoy the countryside.

Amira Patel is supporting the creation of the new South Pennines Park, which she said is where her journey began.

During lockdown the 29-year-old founded an online community, The Wanderlust Women, to inspire more Muslim women to explore the countryside.

Ms Patel, originally from Bolton, said: “I always used to think: ‘where do I belong?’ I thought that home had to be a specific location, but now I realise that home is where you feel the most alive.

“The outdoors is now my office. It’s been a space for me to heal, to connect with myself, with God, and connect with everything around me.

“I’m very passionate about this project. I want more representation of Muslim women outdoors. I wanted to give them the confidence to go out and experience it for themselves, so I started blogging about my journey.

“Sometimes we feel like there are barriers – but the key is how we challenge them.”

The Wanderlust Women have started to explore their own surroundings as they gained confidence. What started as a small group of 30 people has extended to a community of more than 5,000 people around the world.

Ms Patel said: “Knowing the impact the group has had really makes me happy. I want everyone to experience the joy I feel.”

As well as providing a support network for Muslim women, The Wanderlust Women also run activities like learning about the environment and the countryside, educational trips, as well as teaching skills such as navigation and the basics, such as what to wear and how to pack for a day adventuring.

Ms Patel said: “Nature can have a huge impact on our mental and physical health. You just need to take that little step outside your comfort zone.

“When you’re outdoors you can take in the fresh air, listen to the sounds around you, look at all the different colours, and take it all in. It’s somewhere you can switch off your thoughts for a minute.

The Wanderlust Women founder is backing the formation of the new South Pennines Park, an independent park landscape covering 460 square miles of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester. It is home to 660,000 people who live in the park – twice as many as the 10 English national parks put together. More than 8 million people have access to the park within 30 minutes.

“The outdoors is for everyone,” she added. The South Pennines Park area, particularly Rivington, Winter Hill and the Belmont area, is where my journey began. It will always have a place in my heart.”

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