Planning the walk

Introduction
Walk leading requires careful planning and co-ordination. This section gives guidance on planning the walk, the steps involved in notifying members about the walk, and the activities leading up to and the walk day itself.

The club owns a number of items (eg Maps and Safety Equipment) for the use of Leaders. These are listed in the INVENTORY OF MAPS AND SAFETY EQUIPMENT and are stored the home of the Walk Programme Leader.

Planning the walk
Remember your navigation and group leading training. Don’t plan a Club walk that will over stress your competencies. Think about safety and risk management.

Selecting a route
Choosing where to walk is your choice. You may have a favourite area or a new area you wish to explore. The area may have interesting features that you want to share, such as geology or landmarks or have historical connections or industrial/heritage sites or just spectacular views. You can often find a route close to what you want from a walks book and then adjust it to suit your requirements. Alternately, you might be able to create a walk from maps and guidebooks alone. Importantly select a walk that will be a pleasant experience for you and your group (you are not expected to totally control the weather). Normally walks are scheduled for a Sunday, but should you wish to arrange for one on any other day, you should liaise with the Walk Programme Leader.

Basic guidelines

  1. The walk you will be leading will be graded and it is important you stay within the bands of the grade. This tool will help you determine the grading and duration of the route you have chosen.
  2. Study the map for the availability of paths or open country. As well as public footpaths there are also a large number of permissive paths which can be found here and may allow you to link up paths to complete a circular route otherwise not possible. Stay off roads as much as possible as the constant wariness of traffic will diminish your enjoyment.
  3. Consider the length and timing of your walk. The distance and ascent should never be so much as to tax unduly the capability and experience of your group. Take into account travel time. Will the group want a long journey for a relatively short green walk? Equally, will a long journey and a strenuous red walk make the day too demanding? Remember that the walkers will plan their day around the times you have given, arriving back late may be very inconvenient to some.
  4. Remember Naismith’s rule. Allow additionally time for styles and descending steep slopes. Build in time for stops (adding/removing clothing, etc) and for coffee and lunch. Use the Walk Profile Tool to assist you in planning your walk. Prepare a Route Card where considered appropriate. In this respect it is for the Walk Leader concerned to determine their own personal requirements. It is likely that a Route Card will only be required for walks in remote areas / possible adverse conditions / difficult terrain with small parties. It will help you focus on section timings and where you should be by a certain time. This will allow you to take contingency measures if you are running late. Don’t forget about the available daylight hours. Finishing a walk in the dark can cause anxiety in some people.
  5. Weather plays an important part in route selection. In winter in mountainous regions the risks are high of a walk having to be cancelled because of inclement weather or being adjusted because of encountering adverse conditions during the walk. Prepare less exposed alternatives for use if the weather is bad before you set out, and escape routes to shorten the walk if conditions deteriorate on the way or an incident occurs.
  6. When travel is by car there should be somewhere to park vehicles safely and without causing annoyance or obstruction to others. Is the start point convenient, suitable and easy to find? Are public toilets nearby? Minibuses are an alternative mode of transport. They are expensive to hire, typically £270 for a Snowdonia walk. The Club subsidises the hire of a minibus and special efforts must be taken maximise the walk turnout and hence minimise the subsidy.
  7. The Club has a defined Policy for walking in snow and ice conditions. It is the responsibility of the walk leader to assess the risks of intentionally leading a group into such conditions. If you unexpectedly encounter snow and ice during your walk you will need to determine the risks and make judgements on if you should continue, turn back or navigate round the conditions.

Safety and Insurance
Make sure you are familiar with the principles of walk safety. The Club insures walk leaders and club members.

The insurance covers Legal Liability for damages and legal costs arising out of third party loss, injury or damage, in connection with Rambling activities. Cover includes Breach of Professional Duty, damage to leased and rented premises, member to member liability, indemnity to principals and liability arising out of goods sold or supplied, including refreshments.

Reconnaissance (“recce”)
Whilst maps and books are good starting points for walk planning there is nothing to beat going out and walking the actual ground to see what it looks like for real. This can often be an eye-opener since it will never appear as you expect it to. Walk the whole route from end to end with a colleague. Be prepared to miss turnings, get lost and abandon routes that are just too tricky in reality. The recce will allow you verify your route card. Undertake a recce even if you are familiar with the route. It will refresh your memory and allow you to check any obstructions, detours, etc since you were last in the area. Undertake a second recce if necessary, particularly if you have had to alter your route.

Notification
The Club maintains a Walk Programme and publishes it on the Club’s website and notice board. It is helpful for the members to know well in advance the parameters of walks so that they may plan their own leisure activities. As soon as you have planned your walk notify the Walk Programme Leader of your walk parameters (date, name, length, ascent) so that Walk Programme list can be updated.

Liaise with the Walk Programme Leader if a minibus is required. For financial reasons the use of a minibus is restricted to 3 or 4 walks a year so it is worth checking prior to detailed planning that a minibus will be allowed.

Four weeks prior to your walk date send the walk brief to theWalk Programme Leader.  The Walk Programme Leader will check and send the walk brief to the Webmaster for publication on the website.

One week prior to the walk the Walk Programme Leader will e-mail the walk brief to all members and forward a copy to Old Hall Country Club and Spa for display on the Club notice board.

Note: for privacy reasons information published on the website does not list the walk leader’s phone number or email address.

If a minibus is being used the Walk Programme Leader will additionally send out a notification email to prompt early bookings. If the minimum bookings are not received (usually 14 people including leader) then the minibus will be cancelled.