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Guidance for Walk Leaders

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If you are leading a walk for the first time, it is advisable that you read this document in full before filling in the Walks Pro Forma entry. For those who lead walks regularly it might be useful to remind yourselves occasionally, just in case anything has changed or been added in the meantime.

Click HERE for a printable pdf version of this Guidance document. Opens in new tab.

Updated: May 2022


Leading a walk requires preparation and commitment to the safety of walkers. It’s also fun and very satisfying. The guidance below will help you towards leading a successful walk.


  • Plan your walk well in advance of the due date for inclusion in the Basram monthly Walks Programme. (Instructions on how to add your walk to a Walks Programme can be found HERE).
  • The start of the walk should be at a location suitable for safe, adequate parking – obtain permission in advance if necessary.
  • Use a map or online app to plan the intended route – having first decided how long you want the walk to be – make sure you do not stray from Rights of Way or Permissive Footpaths.
  • Walk the intended route advance to *check it out (known as a *reccie). You may already know the walk, but on the reccie might find you need to alter the route due to e.g. broken stiles, flooding or obstructions; these should be reported to the Rights of Way Secretary.
  • On the reccie, decide on suitable locations for a mid-morning break and a lunch break, as well as locations for comfort stops. If a pub lunch stop, contact the pub to agree a group booking (date, time, number) and establish if advance menu selections are required, in which case provide walkers with the menu link online and collect their menu choices according to the pub’s requirements. Identify a suitable location for walkers not pubbing so they can eat their lunch safely and as comfortably as possible.
  • Consider whether a short-cut is possible in case of severe weather, a walker finding they are unable to complete the full distance, or an emergency. There should be a First Aider on the walk.
  • Arrange a back marker – they should be familiar with the final route and ideally do the reccie with you; it is advisable for the leader and back marker to have a printed map for the walk; this will help avoid any doubt you may have about the route, and in case you are confronted by anyone regarding Right of Way. Arrange a means of communicating with each other that can be used on the actual walk in case of need.
  • If the route involves road walking, Hi-Viz jackets should be worn by the leader and back marker; the Club can provide Hi-Viz jackets and you should arrange to have these before the walk.
  • You have responsibility for all the walkers in the group and any decisions regarding walk changes. All walkers have responsibility for their own and each other’s safety, and to follow your instructions.


  • If entrance to the car park is difficult or obstructed, it is helpful if you or a volunteer wearing a Hi-Viz directs cars to avoid delays in starting the walk.
  • A few minutes before the walk start time, call all walkers together safely. Thank walkers for attending; introduce yourself, any new members, and the back marker. Give a brief outline of the walk: distance, planned stops, approximate finish time, terrain – whether there are steep inclines, stiles or mud, so that walkers can make an informed choice as to whether they wish to undertake the walk, or if they need to do a cut-off. Mention also any road walking or other potential hazards and how these are to be managed and how walkers are required to behave for their own safety and safety of others.
  • If there are any dog owners, instruct that dogs must be well behaved and kept on a lead at all times.
  • If a pub stop is planned, go through any necessary arrangements based on what you previously organised with walkers/pub and what the pub requires on the day.
  • Make a mental tally of walkers and inform the back marker.
  • Check if walkers have anything to say to the group, or any questions. When ready, indicate to the group the walk is starting.


  • Set a suitable pace for the group to be able to stay together – check frequently that no significant gaps develop between you and the back marker, and alter the pace if necessary.
  • If a gap develops, stop and wait until walkers are regrouped, and allow a short breather for the ones catching-up before continuing the walk.
  • Stay on official Rights of Way and Permissive Footpaths. If challenged, stay calm, be polite and produce an Ordnance Survey map indicating your position – if you are found by the challenger, following reference to the OS map, to be trespassing, they are required by Law to direct the group by the shortest route possible to a public right of way; the group is not obliged to return the way they came. (It is advisable to report the challenge to the Rights of Way Secretary after the walk.)
  • Give the group prior warning when approaching a known or recently occurred hazard, and ensure all walkers are safely regrouped afterwards before continuing. Some walkers may require assistance from others before the group is ready to continue.
  • Manage comfort stops appropriately, ensuring that all walkers are ready; do a headcount before continuing the walk.
  • Tell the group at coffee and lunch stops how long they have, and always give a 5-minute advance warning before moving off. If a pub lunch is planned, ensure walkers not pubbing know where they can eat their packed lunch, and that the pub lunch duration is not prolonged unnecessarily as the others will be waiting – this is particularly important during cold or wet weather. Do a headcount before continuing with the walk.
  • Do not offer a choice of routes for the walk. Any walkers wishing to leave the organised group walk to walk separately should be given their current position and appropriate advice depending on their own plan.


  • If a walker is injured or becomes unwell, ideally a First Aider should deal with the casualty, advising you whether further assistance is required; you should take control of the overall walk situation and manage the other walkers.
  • If there is no First Aider, treatment should only be attempted in the event there is a life-threatening situation.
  • If an ambulance is required, the casualty should be kept warm and dry; do not move the casualty except in exceptional circumstances: if lying in a dangerous location.
  • Depending on the circumstances, use of a car or taxi may be appropriate to evacuate the casualty.
  • For minor incidents such as wasp/bee stings etc. some help may be available, but no form of medication should be administered except by the casualty or a relative/companion.
  • In the event of an incident or accident, a written record of Who, What, When and How it happened if you were a witness, or by other walkers who witnessed or were present. After the walk, but as soon as possible, contact the Treasurer and provide the details – these will be entered in the Basingstoke Ramblers Club Accident/Incident Book for insurance purposes.


  • The Basingstoke Rambler Club Insurance Policy provides leaders and walkers with Third Party Cover only.
  • Personal effects and accidents are not covered.
  • Damage or injury caused by dogs is not covered; this is the owner's responsibility.

As with all insurance policies there are exclusions. Contact the Treasurer for further advice or a copy of the Schedule.

If you’d like to lead a walk but feel you need advice or help, don’t hesitate to contact a Your Committee.