Guidance for Walkers
Guidance for Members – Issued July 2017
1.New Walk Leader
New walk leaders are recommended to either plan their first walk with an experienced walk leader who is familiar with the proposed route or trial the walk with an experienced walk leader if the proposed route is unfamiliar. As part of these processes the new walk leader will agree the degree of difficulty of the proposed walk with his/her mentor before forwarding details to the Walks Coordinator.
2. Guidance on assessing degree of difficulty (for leaders and walkers)
The Club publishes fuller walks details' than most walking clubs and where possible an itinerary is given, which gives members an idea of the area and terrain of each walk. For a given walk there are two aspects of difficulty to consider, the strenuosity (grade) of the walk, and its distance. It is important to note that these are quoted separately in our schedule of walks. Thus, an easy/moderate walk could be fine if 7-8 miles long, but quite taxing for some if longer, although graded the same. We use the abbreviated grade descriptions given on the left below to denote
Easy: unhurried walks on reasonably level ground using clear footpaths;
Easy/Moderate: similar easy pace, with a few ups and downs, but unlikely to induce shortness of breath in a reasonably fit walker;
Moderate: normal walking pace, with some rougher paths and significant hills causing occasional shortness of breath in a reasonably fit walker but who should overall
cope quite well;
Moderate/Strenuous: more taxing usually with more hills, some steep, and with a pace which, while not fast, needs to be maintained. New members or infrequent walkers should take
advice from the walk leader before attempting a walk of this grade;
Strenuous: possibly faster pace, over rougher ground, sometimes not on paths, some
strenuous climbs and steeper ascents. Again, seek advice before attempting if uncertain.
Note that walks of any grade are likely to include stiles. If there is significant ‘open access’ work, with unmarked paths, the leader will often indicate this on the listing and may choose to increase the grade.
3. Guidance for leaders
i. The leader should plan and reconnoitre the walk in accordance with recognized rights of way. If the route crosses open access land, particular care in route planning is necessary. Occasionally, the leader may know of unmapped routes which are used with the informal assent of the landowner or by common usage. As part of this route planning process, the leader should consider the Hazards & Risks along the route, including the following:
- Hazards include loose footing, particularly on descents/sloping ground
- Injuries from walls, fences, barbed wire, stiles, cyclists, traffic
- Falling over/falling from height
- Jumping streams, wet areas and losing footing
- Walking in poor conditions e.g. on wet rock, snow, packed snow, ice, mud, poor visibility, high winds
- Falling rock, golf balls
- Leaving gates open
- Dangerous animals e.g. newly calved cows, bulls
- A reasonably accurate estimate of distance and an outline itinerary should be part of the details of a walk.
- If the start point is at a Pay & Display car park, it is helpful to advise the charges payable so that walkers are able to have sufficient change available. Car Sharing is encouraged on all walks to minimize the risk of parking issues at the starting point of walks.
- The strenuosity of a walk should be provided in accordance with grades in section 2 above.
- The walk should not normally deviate significantly from its plan; the walk leader may make the decision to shorten a walk and determine a new route if this is required because of bad weather conditions or emergency. Under normal conditions the leader will only make additions to the planned walk with the agreement of all walkers.
- If a walker decides he/she cannot continue with the walk by reason of illness, injury or fatigue, the leader must offer a suitable escort, normally two persons, back to the start, if possible with a map or at least clear advice on the route. Mobile phone contact between leader and escort is desirable. If the walker is deemed by the leader to need an escort but refuses, the leader may abandon the walk and take all participants back to the start. The leader’s decision on this is final.
- The number of walkers and their names must be noted at the beginning of a walk and this information given to the Walk Statistics Coordinator as soon as possible after the walk. In particular, the leader should welcome any guests and/or potential new members, introduce them to the members of the walk and identify them clearly in the information provided for Statistics.
- The leader should keep an eye on all walkers, pacing the walk accordingly, ensuring that no walker gets too far behind.
- For larger groups (more than say, 10 persons) the leader should have a ‘Back Marker’, who may not necessarily be the same person for the whole walk.
- If turning off the path, the leader should ensure that the whole party follows.
- The leader should carry an activated mobile phone (or ask somebody else to bring one if they do not have one), whistle, compass, first aid for minor injuries and torch during winter months.
- Generally, the walk leader should incorporate short breaks in the morning and in the afternoon on longer walks, in addition to a lunch break.
- All accidents or close call incidents on a walk shall be reported to the Club Secretary, normally within three days of the incident. The Club has an Incident Reporting process which requires that the leader of the walk completes the details, using a proforma Incident Report which will be provided by the Club Secretary. For more serious accidents (involving any Emergency Services and/or Hospital A&E treatment) it is also relevant that witness statements are made available to the Club Secretary.
4. Guidance for walkers
i. Walkers should let the walk leader know that they intend to come on their walk and establish that the meeting point and time are clearly identified and understood. Meeting Point Grid references are normally given in the Walks Schedule and can be used at www.gridreferencefinder.com to positively locate the place on a map.
ii. Spare clothing should be carried appropriate to the likely weather conditions. It is particularly important for upland cold weather walks that all walkers should carry extra clothing items to allow for a prolonged emergency halt in exposed conditions.
iii. Sufficient liquid (not alcohol!) should be carried.
iv. A personal first aid kit should be carried by all walkers. A survival bag is also recommended. In the event of first aid being required, it should only be applied within the limits of the competence of the member applying it.
v. It is recommended that walkers should carry a personal ID which can be readily found in case of
emergency, to identify their name, an emergency contact and information about any medical conditions e.g. asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, angina etc and/or special medication requirements. The Club will provide a plastic key fob for this purpose, if requested. If special medication may need to be administered in an emergency, it should be carried on all walks and at least one other member of the walking party should be aware and know how to administer this properly.
vi. Walkers are obliged to seek the permission of the walk leader prior to a walk regarding bringing a dog. Such walker is responsible for cleaning up after their dog and for the effective control of the dog in all circumstances during the walk and should observe all signage and the Countryside Code in relation to keeping the dog on a lead when in the vicinity of loose livestock or wildlife.
vii. Walkers should walk on paths where available to minimize damage to flora and heed requests from the leader to walk in single file.
viii. Walkers should communicate their intention to take a ‘comfort break’ so that the walk leader and/or back marker can know at all times the whereabouts of all his/her group.
ix. Walkers should not walk so far in front of the walk leader that it makes it difficult for the walk leader to give them advice; a rule of thumb is that one should always be within easy hailing distance. Such distance can be much reduced in windy conditions. It is the walker’s own responsibility to monitor this distance.
x. Walkers should use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls. The leader may request another walker to stay with a gate to ensure that it is closed after the group. This responsibility may be passed to another walker. The last walker is responsible for leaving gates as they are found by the walk leader.
xi. Walkers should be prepared to go at the pace of the slowest in the party.
xii. Walkers must consider others and should be prepared to assist others at obstacles such as stiles when appropriate. Ensure that walking poles are not a hazard to others.
xiii. Potential hazards should be communicated from walker to walker.
xiv. Walkers should remain aware of those in front and those behind particularly where a change of direction in involved.
xv. If on loose/rough ground, walkers should not get too close together and be in danger from stones dislodged by the person ahead.
xvi. When walking on a road, members should follow the Highway Code viz:
- Where there is a footpath, use it;
- Where there is no footpath, walk on the right-hand side of the road;
- Walk in single file especially on narrow roads and in poor light.
xvii. All rubbish should be taken home, including fruit skins and peel. ‘Leave no trace and take your litter home’ (Country Code).
The Club carries Public Liability Insurance (PLI) but the following should be noted.
Walking is inherently not without risk and all walkers are advised that they are responsible for their own safety, in particular with respect to their personal safety see notes 4(iv) and (v) above.
Walkers participate in the activities of the Club at their own risk.
The PLI is not intended to cover loss or damage to your own property, nor does it cover accidental injury.
Any claim concerning travel in a vehicle should be covered by the motor insurance for that vehicle.
It could be of importance to the Insurers that a full record of Walkers on any walk is made available in the event of a claim. It is therefore in the interest of the Walk Leader to gather this information before setting off on the walk and provide this information in a timely manner after the walk to the Walk Statistics Coordinator.