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Walk Leaders’ Notes

Preparation

Route

Consider possible routes, consulting walk books, Ordinance Survey maps, tourist guides, Google maps, local knowledge etc. The start point should have adequate safe parking: toilet facilities are a welcome bonus. Where possible, access by public transport is useful or some arrangement put in place to meet people at the closest rail or bus stop.

Research tide times for costal paths and the state of rivers and other paths likely to flood in wet weather.

Avoid crossing main roads and walking long stretches of roads particularly if busy or without footpath.

Pre-walking the route is useful to hone your skills without others to offer helpful advice. Take especial note of any points on the route where there is a choice. If the group gets strung out so that someone arrives at this point and cannot see anyone in front they will not know where to go.

Plan a walkable distance - our walks range from 7-12 miles but can be more or less in special circumstances. There are less hours of daylight in the winter and walkers should be back to their cars before dusk. In the summer there is more time and the end point might be determined by the need to get to the tea shop before it closes. The average walking place for a group is 4kph (2.5mph) but this rate is reduced where there are a large number of styles or gates or if the group is large or has mixed ability. Try to find suitable places for midmorning or afternoon stops for refreshments and any other time that the group would appreciate a break e.g. after a steep uphill section.

If the walk is linear, and public transport is being used in one direction, please give consideration to using the public transport link at the start of the walk and then finishing at the starting point, unless there are good public transport links (eg regular train service) and not just one bus at 4.30!

Lunch

Could be either picnic or Pub (a combination does not work well) and will depend on the walk route, weather and preference. Where the preferred stop is a pub it is better to reserve some places with them and confirm numbers a day or so before the walk. Some pubs require menu choices to be made to help with service on the day. All walkers wanting a pub lunch should contact the leader several days before the event, as listed in the programme. Some walkers may want to join the group at this halfway stop so keeping to time is important. Courtesy should be afforded to the owners and boots removed or covered before entering, particularly on wet and muddy days.

Please give a 10 minute warning before resuming the walk to give folk time to use the facilities and re-boot.

Try to ensure that the picnic site is attractive and can accommodate the size of the group. Be aware in cold weather people will not want to linger but in warmer weather might be happy for a leisurely break.

Escape Routes

Work out a couple of short cuts to reduce the length in case of bad weather, ill health or accidents. Hopefully they will not be needed but it is good to be prepared. If it is possible to extend the walk and visit a particular view point for example, this should be mentioned at the start so that walkers may consider their options.

Numbers

Appoint a back marker if the group is large (12+). If the group is over 20 it may be useful to split into two groups and appoint a second leader and back marker. Ensure that the back marker and second walk leader have a map and details of the walk route. For popular walks it is OK to say to people phoning that the walk is full and you will start a reserve list and contact them if there is space.

Weather

It is helpful to know what the weather is likely to be in the area of the walk so that the leader can be prepared. All walkers should be responsible for their own clothing and footwear, water and food, but it is good to prepare folk at the start if the weather is likely to dramatically change.

Leader

As leader of the group ensure you have map(s), compass, whistle, phone (or at least one person in the group), first aid kit, and spare food, drink, hat, gloves.

Starting the walk

The start

Ensure everyone has appropriate clothing and footwear: it is acceptable to ask people to change or refuse to let them join the walk if their lack of preparedness might compromise the safety of the group. In hot weather ensure that walkers have plenty of fluid, extra breaks may be necessary. Everyone should be ready to leave by the time stated on the programme: waiting for late-comers spoils the day for everyone and time should only be given with due consideration to the length of walk and other critical timing etc. Arrangements to meet further along the walk may be an acceptable alternative. If a leader wants to give out their mobile phone number for use on the day of the walk, that is at the discretion of the leader and is useful if people are running late due to unexpected circumstances.

Headcount

It is important not to loose anyone so be sure you have counted the walkers at the start and at regular intervals. The back marker can help in this task. Stop at any point on the walk where there is a choice of ways and only continue when everyone has arrived. If anyone wants to leave the group for any reason ensure they know to tell the leader or the back marker.

Pace

This may be slower than your own walk pace and will be based on the speed of the slowest walker. It may be useful to bring the slowest walkers to the front so that you can encourage them and they will not string the group out too far.

Breaks

Give the group a few minutes warning before you want to resume the walk to enable people to get ready to start walking again.

Prayer

We like to commit the day to the Lord so it is good to start, and if wished finish, the walk with prayer.

Unforeseen events

If for any reason you are unable to lead the walk please make every effort to find an alternative walk leader. Many of our members are competent walk leaders and happy to take over at short notice so run down the list of those who have booked and see if someone can take over. We try never to cancel a walk.

Be wise, be prepared and be blessed!