Footsteps volunteer and local muslim Toqueer reflects on joining Kinder in Colour on 24th April:
There was a dream I had as a child of beautiful hill tops, the wind blowing in my hair, the serenity of the countryside. It felt like heaven. Believe me when I say I have NEVER visited the countryside in this country. I was so excited when I found out through the Birmingham Climate Justice Coalition Whatsapp group that they were organising a trip to mark the 90th anniversary of the first trespass into the Peak District (when walking into the countryside was restricted especially for minorities like myself).
You ask why has it taken me this long? I say to you all, many reasons. One of them is fear, will I be welcome? Many people I know live in towns and cities and feel very disconnected from the great outdoors. It was refreshing to know that Kinder in Colour – a campaign to support better access for minorities – was out there.
The day of the trip….
It was a beautiful day, there were two mini buses collecting people from Birmingham. What was amazing was to see so many diverse people attend, young and old, many who would like me will be visiting the Peak District for the first time. There was real excitement and after 2.5 hours we had made it.
There were lots of people already there and many coaches were still arriving, there must have been about 500 people there. We got to the starting place and were welcomed by the local people. They had prepared homemade cakes of every kind, from chocolate cake to Victoria sponge and hot drinks too. I spoke to the parish vicar from the local church who told me interesting stories of the history of the area. Did you know that the Normans once lived there? And that the parish churches which dated back centuries still to this day are centres for the community? I thought it was inspiring to know that the community was at the heart of the local people living there.
I got ready, put on my new walking boots and off we went.”Here we go”, I shouted out, heard by the birds flying high, enjoying the vastness of the blue sky. It was an adventure for sure. As we walked, I came across a gushing spring and beautiful trees. As we crossed the bridge, I cried out “Lord behold”, the mountains were breathtaking. I just stood there, stunned. My dream, I thought, came true, there really is a place called heaven and it’s at the Peak District in a town called Edale.
As we walked up the mountain, it was tough, but most enjoyable. I borrowed a camera which I made good use of by taking lots of photos. I wanted to document my trip to inspire many more minorities to connect with the countryside.
I enjoy meeting new people and as a social person, I was chatting away. I started chatting to a woman and I asked where she was from. She said, “New Zealand”, wow I thought, you are the first person I have met from that country. I asked her to share one interesting thing about herself. She smiled and said her surname means Hobbit in New Zealand. Wow, I thought, how incredible. She asked me the same question. I smiled and said that I do not live too far away from Shire Mill which for those who do not know inspired the author of the Hobbit. What are the chances of that happening? It made me think and reflect. I realised the wonderful qualities of having imagination and dreams, you just never know who or what you may come across and achieve.
As a climate activist, who works with others, I feel we need to believe in the dream we have of a better, fairer and greener world and work hard to get there. The countryside is great for this as it’s a place of peace, reflection and conversation. We reached the top of the summit after about 2 hours and it was again breathtaking, the view from the top was just stunning. I took a rest for a while and embraced what nature has always given us. The love and compassion could surely be felt. As we left and made our way back, we were just in time for food, it was very delicious. I had rice and a samosa and enjoyed it. It was time to regroup and make our way back to the mini bus.
What a fantastic day, a memory I shall cherish forever. It made us all appreciate the value of the countryside and with the conversations we had on the day. We knew we needed a local Kinder in Colour group so that many more people, especially minorities could access the countryside. I will be very much part of that working group and after this adventure, there will be many more to come.
Thank you, to Kinder in Colour and to the Birmingham Climate Justice Coalition for the visit. Without you this will not have happened.
Toqueer now has a blog charting his adventure into green actions and places in Birmingham. Check out Toqueer’s Green Experience.