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Campaign urges urban dwellers to explore protected landscapes

A major campaign has launched to encourage younger people to “go out out” and escape city life to explore the amazing countryside on their doorstep.

Turning the urban dictionary on its head, the high-profile visual campaign will feature at major train stations and on buses across the South East and aims to entice young people out of busy urban areas to discover the “breathing spaces” of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
It comes as public transport operators, including South Western, Southern, South Eastern Railway, Great Western Railway, Metrobus, Stagecoach and Brighton and Hove Buses, join forces to promote the campaign.

Launching in the 70th anniversary year since the Government passed an Act of Parliament to establish National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the campaign comes as research shows millions of people in the UK do not have access to green space. A YouGov poll also showed Londoners were twice as likely to go to the Lake District than the South Downs, which is only an hour from the capital.

Julian Glover, Associate Editor of the London Evening Standard and Independent Review Lead for Designated Landscapes Review said: ‘This campaign to encourage young people to visit these fantastic landscapes will help show how getting out into nature is something everyone can enjoy, no matter what age, background or experience.’

The contemporary posters pay homage to the beautiful vintage postcard-perfect posters from the 1930s when city folk would head into the countryside on trains and buses for long walks.
Almost 90 years on, the campaign aims to connect a whole new generation of urban dwellers with the breathtaking countryside within easy reach.


The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport  said: “Surrey is blessed by some of the most beautiful countryside in the South of England. And there’s fierce competition from other counties, which also boast beautiful countryside. All the more reason to jump on a train and experience these special landscapes for yourself.”

The posters give a fresh new meaning to the common Instagram #goingoutout. Rather than a “messy” night out in the city, instead getting away from the metropolis and into the great outdoors.
The campaign is being spearheaded by a partnership of the South East’s protected landscapes – the South Downs National Park and the Surrey Hills, Chichester Harbour, High Weald and Kent Downs AONBs.

Margaret Paren, Chair of National Parks England and Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “Despite being the most populated part of the UK, the South East is home to some our most special landscapes. They are truly breathtaking places with some of the most stunning views you will find anywhere in the world.

“The sad truth is that too many people, especially young people, don’t even know they exist. Not enough people are making use of these incredible green spaces and connecting with nature, which have been shown to have so many mental health and general well-being benefits.

“This campaign aims to change all that with the protected areas of the South East working together to enable people to access these national icons. The message is simple. You don’t need expensive walking boots and hiking gear – but with a train or bus ticket it’s easy to get into the heart of these special places.

“Tens of thousands of passengers will see these eye-catching posters and we hope they are a conversation-starter, inspiring real behaviour change to ‘go out out’ and explore these treasured landscapes.

“With 2019 marking the 70th anniversary of National Parks and AONBs, there has never been a better time to encourage visitors to come and explore these beautiful places that have been designated for the whole nation.”

The campaign was inspired by public transport campaigns of yesteryear. The history itself is fascinating – rambling clubs published calendars of full moons, train companies laid on mystery trains to rural destinations, and when in 1932 Southern Railway offered an excursion to a moonlit walk along the South Downs, expecting to sell 40 or so tickets, one and a half thousand people turned up. The driving force was a desire among that generation to connect with nature, borne out of the trauma of the First World War, economic hardship and fear of another war.

Peter Campbell, of Guildford-based Chaos Design, the agency who created the concept and artworks for the awareness campaign, said: “We feel the bold vivid colours and simplistic illustrative advertising style will appeals to a younger urban audience, get noticed and be hard to miss. From research we know Millennials and older Gen Zs are seeking less hedonistic pursuits and are searching for new pleasures and activities. So taking a new angle on #goingoutout will also help spread the campaign through social channels online and support the outdoor awareness campaign – both will help disrupt the usual connotations of Going Out Out!”

Click here to discover more about the campaign