Guidance Notes

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Dorset Ramblers Walk Leaders Guidelines

This guide is intended for members who are prepared to organise and lead walks.  All walks demand careful planning and co-ordination, and it is wise to make sure that you have covered every eventuality.  New walk leaders should liase with Walks Programme Secretary (ies) and see if 'mentoring' or 'buddying' can be offered, whereby you will learn from an experienced Walk Leader.

There are 3 programmes per year.  The programmes is published in mid January, May and September so the Walks Programme Secretary will require full walk details no later than one month before the date of publication.  These details should contain the following information;

  • Name(s) of walk leaders
  • Date of walk and time if not standard 10.15
  • Grid reference
  • Start point / parking and, if applicable, parking charges.  Postcode may be useful
  • Approx distance in mileage am and pm, brief description of terrain (e.g. flat, steep hills, stiles etc.)
  • Name of pub (if using for lunch).  You need to say if figure of eight
  • Any change of phone numbers from our membership lists (NB only mobile numbers are shown on website)

What To Do Before a Walk

Choose your walk area according to suitability for time of year.  Use an OS map and/or book of recommended walks.

Choose pub and phone or call in personally to check that they are willing to accommodate numbers which might be anything from 6 to 20.  Make it clear that this will be a Sunday.  Arrange to collect or have e-mailed the menu and offer to phone in the order at start of walk.  If fig of 8, check parking situation, whether pub open for members to use the facilities and place lunch order before setting off.

Reccying a Walk

The recce is important to ensure that you can find your way around the route and to check for potential hazards or problems such as busy roads and impassable paths.  Do contact committee if you need help/company during a recce; this is advisable for obvious reasons, not least to ensure someone to be your backmarker on the day.

Things to be aware of:

  • How long the route takes and how long it might take a larger group; lots of stiles usually slow down a larger group.
  • With a group it is likely that the pace will be slower than you on your own
  • Note places where the group should be careful such as road or railway crossings
  • Be aware of points on your route that might be missed (or not visible due to time of year) and make a note of any landmarks

On the Day of the Walk

Prior to leaving home
  • Ensure you have a mobile phone charged and left on, both for emergencies during walk and to phone pub at walk start (if applicable)
  • Basic first aid kit* (see end)
Before setting off
  • Arrive in good time.Place someone to direct cars if parking not obvious
  • Circulate menus (on clipboard with pens provided if possible).  Collect details of lunch orders and phone through to pub
  • Give a short briefing of planned route and any points of interest or hazards such as busy roads etc.  Introduce new members or visitors and point out the back marker for the duration of walk.
  • Tell members that, if at any point they should wish to leave walk, to let leader or back marker know.  Do a head count.
On walk itself
  • During the walk remember "the speed of convoy is the speed of the slowest ship".  If the party becomes too spread out it will slow down the pace.  Make stops at suitable points to allow those at the rear to catch up and when they do, give them a moment or two to rest and catch their breath before moving off.
  • If you encounter livestock in a field normally they will ignore you if you ignore them.  Do not get between a mother and its young or allow the group to 'corner' animals, always give them an escape route away from you.  If you encounter a bull it should be with cows and will be more interested in them than you.
Backmarker duties
  • Backmarker needs to be familiar with the route (have map and instructions)
  • Count members at start and at each stop/pause to ensure that no-one has gone missing
  • Inform the leader if you think anyone is having difficulty during the walk
  • Ensure anyone taking a comfort stop knows which way you are going.  If necessary hold back until you are sure they can see which way group is going.
What to do in bad weather
  • Check weather forecasts the day before and be prepared to cancel if weather too bad.
  • Advise Walks Programme Secretary(ies) (now Sandra Whaites and Pam Lewis) or if not available then Chairman or Secretary (Jenny Gooding and Jenny Newman respectively), preferably by phone.
  • Go to start point (or arrange for someone else if not possible) in case members were not contacted and turn up
If you have to cancel because of illness or other
  • Try to find replacement leader who knows route.  Failing this contact any of the above to arrange cancellation of walk.

After the Walk

  • Let programme secretary know how many you had on walk
  • Write a brief resumé of the walk – or ask a member who was on walk to do so.  It should be forwarded directly to Lynn Hawkey to be put on website (or to Jenny G or Jenny N).  Also give route to Secretary for walks library (this can be e-mailed, sent or handed to Jenny N)
  • Congratulate yourself and backmarker on job well done!
  • It is strongly recommended that leaders carry a first aid kit containing the basic first aid items.  If you do not have one, it will be possible to pick one up from one of our committee members in advance of walk.  We will ensure that these First Aid Kits are distributed in the South Dorset area as well as Sherborne / Sturminster / Blandford and Yeovil areas.
  • First Aid Notes.  Accompanying this information there are 2 sheets of simple guidelines produced by the Ramblers Association.  One is for treating injuries, the other is action at an incident.