May 31, 2024 6 min read

Joshua Adeyemi, otherwise known as Tales by Josh, is an award-winning outdoor enthusiast. Upon first glance at his Instagram page, @talesbyjosh, I was struck by his stunning shots of the Scottish outdoors, with Josh clearly an expert in showcasing the beauty of Scotland’s countryside. The imagery and filmography Josh posts could convince anyone to step out on their first adventure, yet, he has taken his efforts to encourage others to get outside and experience the joy of the outdoors a step further. Josh is the co-founder of Black Scottish Adventurers (BSA), a community interest company that aim to introduce more ethnic minorities to the outdoors in Scotland. In doing so, he aims to benefit both their physical and mental wellbeing while educating them about how their daily activities impact their environment. We were lucky enough to catch up with Josh, to find out more about his work with BSA, how he first began on his adventuring journey, and what his top adventures are.

I'd love to know a little about your background? Where did you grow up and what brought you to Scotland?

I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, as one of six children. Despite residing in one of the poorest neighbourhoods, the strong sense of community where I lived made my childhood incredibly joyful and memorable. My parents, both printers, worked long hours, leaving me and my siblings to spend most of our time after school at my grandmother's. I cherish memories of playing outside at her house every chance I got.

Did you enjoy getting out and exploring before your move to Scotland or was it the Scottish outdoors that may have inspired and influenced you? 

My father spent his early years in his village just outside Lagos before eventually moving to Lagos. While growing up in Lagos, my father used to take our family back to the village during holidays, and I remember enjoying my time there as there were more green spaces compared to Lagos. At the time, I thought it was just the sense of freedom and being on holiday that made me happier. It wasn't until I arrived in Scotland and kick-started my connection with nature that I realised it was spending quality time in green spaces that made me happier.

I’d love to know about some of your earlier adventures that inspired the path you’re now on?

Having moved to Scotland over a decade ago, I came across an article that discussed the Land Reform Act, which made me aware of my freedom to roam responsibly in Scotland even as an immigrant. My friends and I were living in the centre of Edinburgh, and we used to enjoy long walks by the Union Canal and explore Arthur's Seat. It was my first time at such elevation, and I believe that seeing the beautiful city of Edinburgh from such a height in the company of my friends kick-started my love for the great Scottish outdoors.

Is there a stand-out moment for you when you realised adventuring was something you wanted to take more seriously?

This is a good question. The truth is, I don't take adventure seriously, haha. I'm not an athlete, and my time in nature is more about community, fun, adventure, and creating lasting memories. Yes, I indulge in some wild adventures, but for me, it's more about connecting with nature without any form of pressure. So, I'd say I have fun and go with the flow. However, when I realised that my time in nature was good for me both physically and mentally and was making me a better person, that's when I realised I wanted to be in nature more and more. From my evening walks in my local green spaces to a Munro hike in the Scottish Highlands or a wild swim in the loch, the outdoors is my happy place.

I wondered when you first realised that minority groups were underrepresented in the outdoor community, and why do you think this is?

Whenever I return from an adventure and catch up with my friends, I tell them about my experiences, and they are always keen and interested. Then I started to wonder why they couldn't just go out and do these things like me. That got me thinking about the barriers and challenges they faced. This ultimately led me to consider the lack of representation within the outdoor space and what I could do about it.

You are the co-founder of Black Scottish Adventurers (BSA), can you tell me a little more about the organisation and what your main aim is with the organisation?

When I identified some of the challenges hindering my friends and the wider Black community from connecting with nature, I devised a solution to help overcome those challenges and break down barriers. I discussed with my brother, Enoch, on how we could support members of our community and beyond to kick-start their connection with nature. This initiative birthed Black Scottish Adventurers. Our aim is to connect people with the outdoors, raise awareness of its benefits, educate them on how their daily activities impact the environment and ultimately the climate. In doing so, we are also creating a community that helps eradicate loneliness.

What do you feel has been your biggest achievement so far with BSA?

I'd say the biggest achievement will be the number of people we've helped kick-start their connection with nature. We have significantly increased representation within the outdoor space and inspired many more through our social media platforms. Our ethos on environmental sustainability has been passed on to our members, and they understand the importance of connecting with nature and looking after it.

Why do you feel it’s so important to encourage others to get outdoors?

If people don't connect with nature, they won't understand it, and if they don't understand it, they ultimately won't look after it. We also know about the benefits of spending quality time in nature. All of these are reasons why it is crucial to have representation within the outdoors, because representation will bring about diversity of thoughts and ideas, which is essential in tackling the existential threat of climate change.

What would you say was your main drive for getting outdoors?

As a first-generation immigrant in Scotland, the outdoors was the only place I could be my authentic, true self without social pressure. It provided me with a community and a sense of adventure.

Can you tell me a little about any favourite adventures you’ve completed? Are there any stand outs for you? Any you’d be keen to do again?

There are so many experiences like that, but the most recent one will be summitting Ben Nevis via the North Face in full winter conditions. It was something I couldn't have imagined myself doing simply because I didn't understand it, and most importantly, I didn't see anyone like me doing it, so that self-imposed barrier was there. However, I overcame that barrier by educating myself and surrounding myself with positivity.

How do you find adventuring in Scotland in comparison to other areas in the world that you may have visited? Do you have any favourite Scottish adventures in particular?

Scotland is magical and unique, and the access rights we have here are world-class. I recently spoke about my ideal day out in nature. It would include a hike in the Scottish Highlands on a mountain with two Munro peaks, some scrambling, and a ridge walk that delivers sensational views. Then, end the day by a loch, either swimming or paddle-boarding.

And lastly, is there an adventure you’re working towards completing next? Or anything exciting coming up for you that you’d like to share with us?

I relish my time in nature; I'm outside every chance I get. I'm looking forward to my time in the Cuillins and also climbing the highest mountain in the Dolomites this spring. Most importantly, I'm looking forward to a slow spring, enjoying little moments with loved ones around blue spaces, watching sunsets, swimming in remote lochs, and just taking it slow. No pressure.

Thank you so much to Josh for taking the time to speak to us. If you'd like to follow along on Josh's adventures, then we highly recommend you give him a follow on instagram here, and if you're keen to join Josh on his next adventure with Black Scottish Adventurers, then give them a follow for updateshere, and remember, everyone's welcome!

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