Leading a walk

Bentham Footpath Group: Leading a walk

Leading a walk is not compulsory. Some members relish sharing their favourite routes, some don’t want that responsibility – it’s your choice. Those of us who have contributed walks all remember that our first walk as leader was daunting, so we though it may be helpful to share some tips:

Click on the + symbols below to find out more . . . 

  • The best walks are likely to be ones that are your own personal favourites.
  • It would make sense to make the first walk you offer an easy one – they generally need less planning!
  • Start by picking a location where say 20 people in 4 or 5 cars can start.
  • Then use websites, walk books, and OS maps to pick a route.
  • Copying a published route is not cheating – its just common sense.
  • Remember that if we are leading a group then all paths need to be legitimate legal routes – i.e. indicated on an OS map.
  • Avoid road walking where possible – particularly main roads. In practice country lanes and short sections on road are often unavoidable.
  • The next step is to walk the route yourself.
  • Within the group we call this “the recce”.
  • It might be an idea to start at the time the group would, and to walk a little slower than you would normally – so that the time taken is similar to a group walk.
  • The typical walking speed for our group, including stiles and breaks is 2 miles per hour.
  • Note any problems – or potential problems. These might be difficult terrain, damaged gates and stiles, blocked routes, or similar.
  • Where possible . . . Find solutions or alternate routes to fix these.
  • If there is no easy solution, and the walk remains viable, then make sure you point out the challenge in the program – more on that later.
  • During the recce, note alternate routes back to the start as you go – these may be invaluable if something goes wrong on the day.
  • Make sure that we can complete the walk in the time given by the length of the daylight if it’s a winter walk.
  • Try and identify sheltered and comfortable locations where we can have a break mid-morning and at lunch time.

Of course. Do a few walks with us and get to know us. You will soon feel comfortable asking for a little help.

  • When you have completed the recce and you are happy with the route, offer it to the program secretary – who will be pleased to help.
  • Contact details for the program secretary can be found on the current walk program.
  • Please mention anything that might affect the scheduling of the walk – for instance if parking is tight, it may be better to run this walk midweek – or conversely, if you want a visiting family member to join the walk make sure we know the best date.
  • You will also need to let the publicity secretary know a little about the walk so that we can publish it in the printed program, in the Bentham News, and on the program page of this website.
  • You dont need to make this complicated – Refer to the Bentham News or the Program page of this website to see how we generally do this.
  • Mention anything you think people need to know in order to decide whether to join the walk – An example might be “this walk includes a short section of climbing over potentially slippery rocks” 
  • Contact details for the publicity secretary can be found on the current walk program.

Not much more than you would if you were just joining someone else’s walk. These are the extras we need to consider . . .

  • Before we leave Lairgill, make sure that all drivers know where they are going.
  • It may help if you can have a sketch map to give out.
  • A postcode / address for satnav users, and a What-3-Words tag is quite helpful too.
  • Briefly describe the walk before we set off –  so that anyone who might feel that they may be being too ambitious can bail out.
  • Then at the start location, give everyone time to get their boots and waterproofs on.
  • Explain in more detail to your group where the walk is going, and point out any specific highlights and challenges.
  • Count the number of people you are leading.
  • Set off, going at a pace that all can manage.
  • At gates, pass the message backward as to whether the gate was open or closed as we arrived – we need to leave the gate in the same state. The last person will tend to the gate.
  • From time to time, look back and make sure the group is staying together.
  • Count the number present every now and again. Our aim is to have no unexplained losses!

Don’t worry – the webmaster looks after all of that.

  • Feel free to contribute pictures – and if there is anything specific that you think should be mentioned, pass that on.
  • Otherwise, don’t worry, sit back and wait, your walk will be added a couple of days after the event.