Walk Leaders’ Checklist
Before offering the walk
Choose a walk that interests you, and that you can make interesting to the group – it can be a walk taken from a book or a website, or a walk of your own devising, and can be urban or rural.
All our walks must be accessible by public transport , usually by tube or rail. Identify both start and return stations and check train times.
Think about the walk in relation to the season – day length, likely weather etc. – can you get the group safely back to the station before dark, even if they walk more slowly than you had hoped?
Think about large groups when designing the walk. Most South Bank walks attract around 20-25 people, but groups sizes are increasing and turnouts of 50+ can happen, especially at popular times such as Bank Holidays and the Christmas period. The simpler the walk, the easier it will be to manage a large group. Suggestions for simplifying a walk are included in the guidance note: Well Attended Walks.
Recce the walk – walk the full route, noting any problems or hazards, and considering large group issues as discussed in Well Attended Walks. Identify loo stops & lunch venues. If choosing a café or pub, make sure that you find a picnic spot nearby for those who have brought their own food. Assess the level of difficulty, trying to put yourself in the position of a relatively inexperienced walker. Measure the length of the walk – use either a map measurer or a device such as a GPS tracker. Note the times at which you arrive at key points.
When walks are called for, the Walks Co-ordinator will stipulate the information required for the programme, and the format to be used. Make sure that you have gathered all necessary information on your recce, and can describe the walk clearly so that walkers know what to expect.
Shortly before the date of the walk
About 10 days or a week before the walk you should:
Unless your first recce is quite recent, we advise that you walk the route again to make sure you can lead confidently without losing your way, and to check for changes, such as blocked or diverted paths. If you have chosen a particular pub or café as a lunch stop, this is a good time to speak to them, let them know you will be coming with a group, and make a provisional table booking if needed. Explain that you will confirm numbers on the day. Get a copy of the menu if you can.
At the start of the walk
Either catch the train specified in the programme, or make sure that you arrive early at the station designated as a meeting point.
Have your mobile phone with you, switched on and fully charged. Be prepared to take calls about the walk, and check for text messages. Bring Ramblers membership forms and affiliation forms for distribution.
Identify a competent back marker (there are usually other walks leaders on the walk who may be willing to help.) Ensure they have a copy of the route, and that their identity is clear to all on the walk. Also make sure the back marker has a mobile and has your phone number.
Identify a place that you can talk to the whole group (without blocking entrances or pavements). This may not be at the station.
When the group is assembled, introduce yourself, explain that you are leading the walk for south Bank Ramblers, welcome the walkers and outline the walk, including details of loo stops and lunch arrangements.
Check whether there is anyone who has not yet joined Ramblers, and ask if there is anyone who has found out about the walk through Meetup. Explain that non-members are welcome to try out one or two walks, but will then be expected to join.
Count the participants and remind them to let you or the backmarker know if they have a problem or need to leave the walk. Get the back marker to do a second count.
If lunch is at a pub or café, find out how many are planning to have lunch, and phone the pub or café to confirm numbers, do any necessary pre-ordering, etc.
During the walk
Frequently check that you can see your backmarker and have communication with them. Allow for regrouping as required.
Set a pace that is suited to the fitness and capabilities of the party and matches the advertised grade.
Be friendly and make a point of chatting to newcomers – but be careful not to get distracted from checking the route.
Allow time for stops at points of interest.
Manage the party over stiles, through gates and forests, through difficult conditions and across roads.
Allow sufficient time at short stops for slower walkers to catch up and rest.
Check numbers after lunch and at all major stops
At lunchtime, give non-members a chance to join or affiliate as appropriate.
At the end of the walk
Make sure everyone knows how to get home and thank them for coming. And thank the back marker!
It’s not usually possible to guarantee a finish time. If all or most of the group are returning by the the same train, however, try to time the walk so as to arrive at the station about 15 minutes before a train, so as to avoid a last minute rush in which some people could be left behind. Even if you are likely to miss a train, however, do not encourage the group to run or walk at a potentially dangerous speed.
Dealing with incidents and emergencies
For more extensive advice from Ramblers on leading walks, go to http://www.ramblers.org.uk/volunteer-zone/support-and-
development/volunteer-toolkits/walk-leader-good-practice.aspx for the Walk Leader Good Practice Toolkit.
AC 15/02/15; 09/08/15; 16/08/15; 04/10/15