Aspire Comms

Forging new paths for The Ramblers


The Ramblers’ Association


Aspire Comms


Raise awareness of the charity’s work helping communities and improving access to public pathways. PROJECT TIMING: June – September 2023

The Ramblers called on Aspire PR to launch a major campaign highlighting the benefits and barriers to using public paths in England and Wales. Centred around two hard-hitting reports by the New Economics Foundation, our mission was to grow awareness of The Ramblers and its vital role in helping the public access green spaces across the nation.

Changing perceptions of The Ramblers

The Ramblers’ Association has been in existence for nearly 100 years to represent people’s right to walk and enjoy the public paths of England and Wales.

Walking has long been a popular leisure pursuit, dating back to Victorian times. However attitudes towards rambling belong to a bygone era, too. Many people see walking as a white, middle class activity for an older generation.

In 2023, The Ramblers commissioned two important pieces of research from the New Economics Foundation. The research aimed to identify benefits, barriers and enablers to people using and enjoying the path network in England and Wales and to develop a vision for the future.

Our brief was to use these two reports to grow awareness of The Ramblers work, campaign for equal access to the outdoors and change perceptions that the Ramblers is an out-of-date walking club for old, white, middle-class people.

“Whitest parts of England & Wales have 144% more local paths, study finds. The Ramblers says poor and ethnically diverse areas miss out on health benefits of public footpaths”

The Guardian

Highlighting unequal access

Our goal was to achieve high profile widespread coverage for the research commissioned by The Ramblers. The findings included:

  • a complete map of the public rights of way across England and Wales, identifying that the old, the wealthy, the healthy, and the white have the best access
  • highlighting the inequities in access to green spaces between the most and the least deprived neighbourhoods
  • the value of the path network for people’s health and wellbeing is estimated at £1.8 billion, or £32.20 per person per year across England and Wales
  • barriers to using the network and a list of interventions and recommendations to improve the path network

Through coverage we wanted to position The Ramblers as the charity that campaigns for access to the outdoors and addresses inequities in access to green spaces.

Our two main targets were core supporters. The 22 million people who regularly enjoy walking for leisure but don’t currently support the Ramblers because they don’t understand how the organisation benefits them.

The second group were advocates. The important stakeholders to influence and help achieve The Ramblers’ charitable objectives.

We began by working with The Ramblers to break down the report summaries and hone the key messages into digestible pieces for media consumption.

From there, it was about creating a ‘news moment’ to deliver impactful, stand-out coverage to reach the widest possible audience across national, regional and outdoors media.

Finally, we worked with a broadcast agency to amplify the messages across these channels and use the research in creative ways to create a longer ‘tail’ beyond the initial launch.

Stirring up the debate


pieces of coverage


total TV reach


estimated total audience

The start of a new journey

Aspire secured multiple pieces of stand-out coverage for the campaign, including a half-page story on page 3 of The Guardian (reach: 106,000) and replicated on (303 million unique users).

With prominent coverage in the broadsheets, the story was picked up by news sites such as Yahoo! News UK (7 million unique users) and MSN (883 million unique users).

Such was the interest at The Guardian that a second piece was commissioned, which Aspire worked on with a reporter from Liverpool who did her own investigation of paths in that area. The story continued to stir up debate in the Guardian, with a series of letters published post-launch.

Aspire also secured feature coverage in the iWeekend newspaper (reach: 140,196) and on iNews (7 million unique users), weaving the research into a first-hand account of a visually impaired writer’s experiences of getting out and about.

Aspire worked with the Press Association to supply additional data, leading to further news stories which resulted in another flurry of regional coverage across England.

We also secured further coverage in outdoors and running media websites such as Outside & Active, Outdoor Insight, Ultra Runner Magazine, National Outdoor Expo, Sustain Health and many more titles.

Finally, the story caught the attention of Piers Morgan, who discussed the campaign on his TalkTV show (reach: 437,000).

With the message well and truly out there, we amplified the campaign message across broadcast platforms to deliver an excellent reach of over 16 million viewers and listeners, across 3 TV stations and 22 regional radio stations.

From initial brief through to campaign, we are proud to have communicated such important messages for The Ramblers, stir up a healthy debate about access to public pathways and set the organisation on a journey towards a future vision.