Lesbian hiking group founders create ‘wholesome’ space for LGBT women

Lesbian hiking group founders create ‘wholesome’ space for LGBT women
Lucy Cooper and Yasmin Message decided to establish Dykes Who Hike after lamenting the lack of spaces dedicated to allowing queer women to connect in London. (Dykes Who Hike/PA)

The founders of a hiking group for LGBT women and non-binary people have said they were eager to create a “wholesome” space for people to connect with each other.

Lucy Cooper, 23, and Yasmin Message, 27, told the PA news agency they decided to establish Dykes Who Hike after lamenting the lack of spaces dedicated to allowing queer women to meet in London.

Since March, Dykes Who Hike have tackled Seaford to Eastbourne, walked Dover to Deal and traversed Canterbury to Whitstable, with over 200 people attending their most recent hike.

Lucy Cooper (left) and Yasmin Message (right) founded Dykes Who Hike in March (Dykes Who Hike/PA)

The hiking group has exploded in popularity since it was founded three months ago, with the group’s Instagram @dykeswhohikeldn growing to over 11,000 followers.

Ms Cooper explained: “It’s all about facilitating community and getting people outside and being able to connect more with our community, and to create that space for queer women that doesn’t necessarily involve alcohol.”

The atmosphere of the walks are “buzzy” as “you’re surrounded by these people who you could be friends with”, Ms Message said.

“There’s this mutual understanding that we all want to talk to each other, which I think you don’t get in other spaces.

“It’s nice because you feel so at home and comfortable and safe on the hikes.

“It’s just good wholesome fun.”

She said many people participate in the hikes on their own and a “few little friendship groups have now sprung up”.

Dykes Who Hike is a hiking group for LGBT women and non binary people (Dykes Who Hike/PA)

Ms Cooper added: “Everyone is very much there to meet people, so it’s a lot of moving back and forth and speaking to different people.

“By the end of the day, you would recognise everyone’s faces, even if you’ve not spoken.

“I feel like I know a lot of lesbians in London now and they all know each other and it feels like a fun web.”

Although the hiking group is named Dykes Who Hike, the group welcomes people of various sexualities and gender identities.

Ms Cooper added: “We have had a lot of different ages and types of people that come, so we’ve had mums, we’ve had people over the age of 50, people with dogs, there’s a really nice mix.”

The pair are creating an ambassador scheme, whereby people from across the UK can organise their own hikes under the Dykes Who Hike name, with an upcoming hike planned for Manchester on June 15.

Over 200 people attended the most recent hike (Dykes Who Hike/PA)

“Loads of people have reached out to us and said that they’re interested in doing it but they live in a different place and they were wondering if they could help and set one up in their area,” Ms Cooper said.

“We’ll train them up and talk about how we kind of run the hikes and give them a bit of advice on what we’ve learned, and let them fly away with that and organise their own hikes so that more lesbians in the UK can go on hikes.”

Dykes Who Hike have also earned a spot at London’s Pride march on June 29.

The pair are proud of the community they have formed and are “excited” to continue expanding the group, Ms Message said.

“I think everyone is really thankful for the space,” she added.

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