Some useful tips for walk leaders (Largely taken from important G.B.sites providing suggestions for clubs).They are mostly common sense-but easy to forget-follow these and you will soon be seen as a good leader. Use paths or open country. Stay off roads when possible- they are sore on feet, and traffic is a nuisance. Choose ‘easy to find ‘ start and finish points. Walks are often only accessible by car. Cars should be parked safely, without obstructing others. Make sure there is space to take cars expected. Lunchtime break. Make sure shelter is available in bad weather? Length and timing. Walk distance should never over-extend the capability and experience of the group. Always assume a slower speed than your own. Allow time for stiles-they only take one person at a time and can slow the pace of a group. Ground and weather conditions affect walking speed: A speed of about 2.5-3.0 miles an hour is usual on the flat. Hills and mountains reduce walking speed. Mud/wind/rain also reduce speed. Newcomers. Experienced walkers can walk 12 or more miles on a day but 6 or 7 miles in hills is enough for many walkers. Leaders. After you have studied a route on the map, walk it yourself, perhaps a week or so before the day. Seeing problems will give you time to alter the route. Give name and six-figure grid reference of the starting point, if you can. Distance. The length of the walk. Grading and terrain: it is useful to describe routes as easy, moderate or strenuous, and to point out whether the route is basically flat, hilly etc. Date and departure time. Your contact details: phone number, and email if you have one. It is helpful to give your mobile phone number as well, as people may want to let you know they might be late for the walk! Before the walk starts. You should have a form that all those taking part in the walk must sign. This will confirm the number and names of people walking, and helps to count heads as well. It should also state that the club accepts no responsibility for claims arising from the activities of participants on the walk. Shortly before starting off, discreetly make sure that: All members of the group are equipped for ground and weather conditions; in extreme circumstances you would be justified in turning away a walker if you thought that improper footwear or equipment could put them or others at risk. Before setting off. Introduce yourself as walk leader and briefly describe the route, with break details, estimated length and finishing time. You could add interesting things to look out for. Ask someone of experience to act as back-marker, make sure he or she is known to the group, and that the back marker's functions are known to all: (eg) closing gates and checking that no-one gets left behind.. However, it is the leader's responsibility to ensure that contact is not lost with the rear of the group. Give instructions on road walking if any is involved. Advise the party not to walk more than two abreast across fields that are ploughed or in crop. If sheep/ cattle are likely to be encountered, care must be taken. On the walk With a large walking group, remind them to keep other walkers in sight - in front and behind. However, the group will become spread out-which is better than being bunched together. Monitor the walk pace to prevent large gaps occurring. Take frequent stops to allow those at the rear to catch up. It stops people getting lost! Don't move on just as those at the back appear, their need for a short rest will likely be greater than those at the front! Close up the party for complicated turnings, crossing of busy roads, poor visibility or in woods. In reasonable weather, lunch should not be rushed: for many, eating out of doors gives time to chat and gain knowledge about terrain and countryside. Before leaving your lunch site, ensure that litter has been cleared and check that nothing has been left behind. Insurance and safety. Make sure you are aware of safety, and of choosing appropriate clothing and equipment for walks. Consider taking first aid training and encourage walkers to carry a small first-aid kit. Our club walks have insurance cover with UFRC. The policy is designed to protect club/leaders against claims for damage to property and for injury or death which might have happened on the walk. Note that this policy does not provide personal accident cover. Recording and reporting incidents Occasionally accidents or incidents may happen on a walk. In all circumstances they need to be recorded. Incidents and injuries Our club has an 'Incident Report Form'. Please ensure you use the form if reporting an incident or accident on a walk. If any incident occurs on a led walk it must be recorded as quickly as possible. Walking on roads Except for motorways and some other busy roads,public roads are open to walkers and you have as much right to be there as a car driver does-but you still must be careful! When walking on roads, follow the Highway Code: use the pavement if there is one, and safe crossings wherever possible, help drivers to see you, and where there is no pavement walk on the right- facing oncoming traffic, crossing to the other side before sharp right-hand bends. Take special care on country roads with no pavements where traffic may be moving fast. Walk in a single file. The leader and back-marker are recommended to wear reflective arm bands on the left arm on any walk involving road walking. Mobile phones A Mobile phone is useful for a walk leader and can prove helpful in emergencies. However, they may not work in hilly or remote areas and are not a substitute for other safety precautions. If you do call for help, make sure to keep your mobile turned on so that the emergency services can call you back.
Ronnie Irvine/Elaine Simpson 2019