Meet Cumbria’s adventure collective for LGBTQIA+ outdoor enthusiasts

Image: Lakes Queer Adventures on Instagram

LGBTQIA+ outdoor enthusiasts across Cumbria are brought together through a new adventure group.

Lakes Queer Adventures was created by Tessa, 25, and her partner Sami, 27, from Ulverston, to create a space for LGBTQIA+ people to come together, make new friends and hang out in the Lake District.

The group does everything from indoor climbing and wild swimming to hiking and orienteering and always welcomes new faces to its events which take place twice a month. From 5 to 15 people attend, and the outings are normally followed by a meal in the pub or a café.

The pair were first inspired to start the group by other minority adventure groups taking part in the Kendal Mountain Festival as well as Peak Queer Adventures, the group’s now Peak District-based sister adventure group.

Talking about what the band meant to them, Sami said, “I guess we saw the need to put it together more than anything. It gave us a sense of community and belonging. Me and Tess before starting the group went on a Peak Queer Adventures walk and until then I had never seen anyone who looked and identified the same way as me. It was the first time at the age of 26 that I met someone like me and it gives you this feeling of belonging.

Tessa added: “It makes me feel not alone because I meet other people and they’re like oh I’m queer, I’m bi, I’m gay or non-binary and I’m like oh cool, that’s not not just me then! It’s also a lot easier to go out when you have a group of friends who are going to go out and do it with you, it’s motivating and you can share a laugh or a cake or a hug or whatever it’s all about doing something you love and is good for you

“I think it’s also unusual to find an LGBTQIA+ venue that’s not all about drinking and partying. Especially in places like Manchester and other cities it’s like going out and getting drunk and dancing so it’s good to have an alternative. We’re not an exclusively sober space, but we’re not alcohol-centric either. »

After creating the collective last November, the group now has followers from all over the UK and regularly receives new members from places such as Leeds and Lancaster.

Tessa said: “At first it was a bit of an experiment to start with, we weren’t used to social media at first but now we kind of are! It really came in waves, at first we were hosting an event and we had maybe one or two people, but now the legs have grown and we have people coming from further afield. It’s clear there’s a need for bands like this all over the north of England.

“I think a lot of young people grow up in Cumbria and then move on, especially if you feel like you don’t fit in. Speaking from personal experience, I went to the University of Manchester and was desperate to get away and meet open minded people but then I thought I don’t want to live in Manchester I want to live in the lakes so I have to create this community myself because it’s not already there.

She added that while there are spaces across the county for LGBTQIA+ people to come together, they had been unable to find other Cumbria-based LGBTQIA+ outdoor adventure spaces.

She said: ‘There are some really good things happening in Carlisle with Pink Youth and Barrow’s Drop Zone Youth, but that’s because they’re the two biggest places in Cumbria so there’s not much between both and there are certainly no weird spaces that are adventure-based. I think it is because Cumbria is such a large county and compared to other places it is sparsely populated.

Sami added that the group had also applied for funding to organize a camping weekend around Easter next year, where they hope to see around 30 people attend, including some members of Peak Queer Adventures.

Sami said: “The Youth Hostel Association and All the Elements Support Network have brought together a small community of groups like ours and charities who are all doing similar things to LQA to provide funding for what we do and also create a community of like-minded bands.

Sami and Tessa strive to make the group as accessible as possible and not all of their adventures require a high level of fitness.

Sami said: “We try to make it as inclusive as possible and we try to say that we always make sure that anyone who wants to come can do so. As an outside tutor, I work with many different types of people every day, so I have lots of ideas on how to get people involved. We also run a variety of different events and not all of them require a level of fitness, our wild swims don’t require a lot of walking or swimming and we have already run an arts and crafts day in Kendal.

Tessa added: “The events we organize are not organized events, they are just gatherings. We make sure to display the distance of the adventure and say if it’s on trails so people can make an informed choice about what they want to get involved in. Everyone is responsible for their own safety. But if someone contacts us to let us know they want to attend but have accessibility requirements, we would absolutely be more than happy to organize an event they can attend, we are very adaptable!

Although the group is mainly aimed at adults, children accompanied by their parents are welcome. Both Tessa and Sami said they are keen to spread the word about the group and welcome new members of all ages.

In the future, the couple hopes that new people will come forward to organize adventure events that they can advertise on their page to grow the collective even further.

You can find out about upcoming events on the group’s Instagram at @lakesqueeradventures

About Ethel Partin

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