Some thoughts as guidance to Southbank leaders on well attended walks
Southbank is a successful Ramblers’ group and we have recently noticed an increase in our membership and participation in our walks. At the June 2014 and 2015 Committee meetings we discussed some ideas to help leaders, should they find they have a large group to lead. Clearly our objectives are to safely keep the group together, and to limit any potential time delays.
Planning the walk
- Consider identifying a co-leader, or person who has recced the walk with you who can help as back marker. If this is not possible, find a volunteer back marker at the start of the walk (ideally another leader or an experienced walker).
- When you recce the walk, try to think about how you would handle a very large group on difficult or confusing stretches – occasionally there will be a viable plan B, such as diverting to an easier track or a safe stretch of road – if not, perhaps you could mark a spot to gather the group together, brief them about the difficulties and remind them that they must keep the rest of the group in sight.
- Plan to keep the catering as simple as you can. On urban walks especially, you can often identify an area where there are several cafes or pubs, plus a picnic spot, and leave people free to find their own food. This is harder to do on country walks, but on days such as Bank Holidays when pubs will be busy and numbers could be high, you could consider making the walk picnic only and just using pubs or cafes for drinks/loo stops. If you are doing this, make it clear in the walk description.
- If you do choose to use a particular pub or café as your lunch stop, make a provisional booking, and consider obtaining menus in advance, so that pre ordering of food can take place to reduce time delay. Lunch arrangements should always be made clear in the walk description.
- Consider not advertising opt-out points in walk description, but keeping them in reserve as emergency exits for people who are struggling. Similarly, you may decide not to advertise diversions to places of interest which complicate the logistics – you can decide whether to include these on the day when you know the numbers.
On the train
- If possible start the pre ordering of food handing around menus with pens.
- Encourage use of loos on the train to avoid long queues and delays at the start point.
At the meeting point station at the beginning of walk
- Have your phone on – with a very large group, it may be the best way of communicating with the back marker.
- Identify a place that you can talk to the whole group (without blocking entrances or pavements). This may not be at the station.
- Make sure that you don’t miss people who have nipped into the loo.
- Introduce yourself.
- 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.
- Ask all the walkers to help by always keeping the person behind them in sight…particularly at turns.
- 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.
- Phone…or get someone else to phone the pub/café with the food pre order.
- At a point not long before lunch
- Be clear with people re drop out points and lunch options.
- Be clear of the time and place to reconvene.
- Ask those who are going to the pub to let those who are having food to get to the bar first.
- Count everyone before setting off.
- Encourage them to take Ramblers’ membership and associate membership forms for Southbank.
- Ask if anyone wants to discuss the possibility of becoming a leader .The more leaders we have the better!
Near to the end of the walk.
- Stop and advise people of transport options home and thank them for attending.
- Let them know we are keen to receive feedback.
At the end
- Be proud!!