Questions & Answers

Who can walk with Ramblers?

Ramblers walks are open to anyone who would like to walk with us. We ask that you use common sense to decide if a walk is at a suitable level for your fitness and stamina.

15, 16 and 17 year olds can walk unaccompanied, but they need a written letter with parental (or guardian) consent. If the young person decides she/he wants to walk on a regular basis, Ramblers has young person's consent cards

Can I bring my dog on a walk?

Policy on dogs varies. Some Groups allow them on all walks, some on certain walks with the agreement of the leader, and a few do not allow dogs on any walks. Refer to the individual Group page for their policy.

Do I have to be a member?

You are welcome to come along for up to three walks, before deciding whether to join the Ramblers. Once you are a member you can use your membership card to get a discretionary 15% off at Cotswold Outdoor shops and Tiso Discount Evenings. 

Do I need to walk with the same Group?

No – when you join, you become a member of the whole organisation, not just a specific local group. In the first instance, you are assigned to a group on the basis of your postcode, unless you indicate otherwise. You can sign up to receive regular emails from some Groups in the Lothian and Borders Area by clicking on the mailing list links on the relevant group pages. 

Must I walk every week?

No. Members can choose to walk all, most, some or none of the walks in the programme. Many of our members do not walk, choosing instead to support the aims of the Ramblers just by being a member.

What happens on a Ramblers walk?

We walk as a group and, as we want everyone to enjoy the walk and not be put off by too fast a pace, generally rambles at D and C (and some B) levels walk at a pace that still allows them to carry on a conversation with their fellow walkers and not get out of puff. The walk leader will let you know at the beginning of the walk what the schedule for the day will be (e.g. when lunch will be) and stop for breaks and to let people catch up if required. Some people like to chat all the way and others like to walk on their own or a mixture and Ramblers walks suit all of these. See also 'What if I need the toilet' below.

How safe are the walks?

Safety is always our first consideration and the Lothian and Border Area offers training to all our walk leaders. The leader will usually walk the walk (recce) beforehand to check if there are any problems with their planned route and carry out a risk assessment. Walk Leaders all carry a First Aid kit. The walk leader will sometimes appoint a 'back marker' who is usually someone who is known to be an experienced walker. They make sure that no one gets left behind.

Any adventure carries an element of risk and individuals must accept a degree of responsibility for their own safety. Please check our Grades pages – it can be dangerous to attempt walks outwith your capabilities. Please also follow the guidelines on our Walks page.

In case of emergency, walkers who carry a mobile phone on a walk should list at least one ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact number.

Ramblers' Association takes no responsibility for any loss or injury incurred during their activities.

What happens if there is bad weather?

The Walk Leader will decide whether the walk can proceed. If the decision is made to cancel they will contact everyone who has signed up (if applicable). Sometimes alternative walks may be arranged.

What if I haven't got a car?

Most Groups offer walks by public transport and some by coach. Groups encourage car sharing to minimise environmental impact and usually there are enough cars going so that everybody gets a place. Each group uses its own Passenger Donation system to fairly compensate the car drivers and you will find details on the page for the group.

Do I need be able to take or read a map?

No, the walk leader will have the necessary map(s) and be able to navigate. Some people like to have an idea of where they are going and where they have been, so by all means bring one along if you wish. Please stay within sight of the walk leader.

What if I need the toilet on a walk?

Walk leaders schedule in 'Comfort Stops' for topping up water intake etc. In more rural areas where amenities do not exist, then trees, bushes and other 'hidyholes' are what you are looking for. Stay away from any burns or rivers as an environmentally friendly walker. Don't be embarrassed if you find you need to go more frequently – the last thing we want is for someone to feel uncomfortable on a walk. Have a quiet word with the walk leader (or back marker) so that he or she knows where you are and let them know when you are back.

Who decides where and when the group walks?

Ramblers Group post-holders and walk leaders are all volunteers and put considerable time and effort into planning, pre-walking and organising walks. Each Group has its own system for deciding where, how far, and on which date they walk. Depending on the availability of walk leaders, most groups will put on a range of walks each month – but remember you can walk with any of the 490+ Ramblers Groups in the UK! If you have a walk you'd really like to try you can suggest it to your Group secretary and they might be able to schedule it for a future programme. 

See also our What to Wear, What to Take page