This guidance is regularly reviewed to reflect latest advice across England, Scotland and Wales. It was last updated on 21 October 2020.  Our priority is to protect the health of our members, supporters and volunteers so please follow our advice below before taking part in any Ramblers activity.

Our team are currently dealing with a very large number of emails and calls so please check the answers to our most frequently asked questions below before contacting us.

Ramblers activities – including group walks up to a maximum of 30 people – are continuing to take place in England, Scotland and Wales subject to any local restrictions.  To make sure they’re COVID-secure, groups must follow the Ramblers’ restart guidelines and government travel restrictions. If you are a volunteer, please follow the latest Ramblers advice.

Status across the nations

England: Ramblers organised group walks can continue with up to 30 people, in accordance with UK government guidance which states organised outdoor physical activity is exempt from the ‘rule of six’. You may also walk outdoors with friends or family in a group of up to six. The three-tier system introduced on 12 October means walkers should not travel to or from very-high alert areas in England. From 6pm on Friday 23 October until further notice, walkers in England must not travel to Wales. All Ramblers group walks in Wales are cancelled from 23 October to 9 November.

Scotland: You may walk outdoors with friends or family in a group of up to six people from two households.  Ramblers groups can continue to run Covid-secure group walks, in accordance with Scottish Government and sportscotland guidance, which allows organised outdoor non-contact sporting activities for up to 30 people - although many walk leaders will set lower limits.   However, due to temporary measures until at least 2 November, walkers in affected health board areas should not leave their areas, or use public transport or shared private hire vehicles, including coaches. People living elsewhere should not travel to any of the affected areas.

Wales: Ramblers organised group walks, and other Ramblers group activities, are cancelled from 6pm on the 23 October to 9 November, in accordance with Welsh government guidelines. You may walk outdoors with other members or your household (or bubble if you live alone), but you must follow the legally enforceable travel restrictions that are in place. Walkers must not travel outside their local area.  

All walkers should make themselves aware of, and comply with, additional local restrictions that may affect walking locally.

If you want to join a group walk: 

Our walk leaders are carefully considering the best approach for their Areas and Groups so always refer to your local group for the latest information. Before joining a walk, we strongly recommend reading Ramblers Restart: Taking part in COVID-safe walks, which has been put together in line with the latest government guidance. 

If you’re walking alone or with friends and family:

  • Be prepared: Government guidelines are changing regularly and vary locally so make sure you are aware of, and comply with, additional local restrictions that may affect your walk. 
  • Be safe: Maintain good hygiene and physical distancing. If you begin to show COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19, you must self-isolate.
  • Be considerate: Be sensitive to rural communities if considering travelling further from home to walk. Make sure to follow the Countryside Code (England and Wales) or Scottish Access Code.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About COVID-19

What is COVID-19?  

You can find information on COVID-19 including latest advice from the NHS here. 

What’s the best way to minimise the spread of the virus? 

You can help to minimise the spread of the virus by avoiding any non-essential travel and social interaction. 

Remember to: 

  • Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and dispose of them immediately 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, for at least 20 seconds (or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel if not available) 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell 

If you, or anyone in your household experience symptoms, you should self-isolate in accordance with government guidance. We recommend keeping up to date with the latest NHS advice.

I think I might have coronavirus – what should I do?

If you develop symptoms – you should self-isolate in accordance with government guidelines, apply for a COVID-19 test, and support NHS contact tracing if requested. Please contact the NHS coronavirus service online, or by calling 111. 

FAQs

Why can larger group walks take place in England, given the ‘rule of six’ restrictions on social gatherings? 

The government has confirmed that ‘organised physical activities’ such as Ramblers group walks can continue, as long as they are organised in a COVID-secure way. 

This is an explicit exemption based on expert scientific and medical advice, and reflects both the low risk of organised outdoor activities and the important health and well-being benefits of people staying active outdoors.

Considerable work has been taking place ‘behind the scenes’, so that we can restart larger group walks in this way. We developed a proposal to outline how our organised walks will be COVID-secure, and worked alongside government and partners to share best practice – including the ‘Return to Play’ team at Sport England, and sport scotland.

We have followed all of the necessary protocols, and put extra measures in place to reduce the risks of COVID-19 – enabling us to meet the guidance from central government. This means that we can continue to organise group walks for up to 30 people, as long as these follow our guidance on how to restart walks in a COVID-secure way

However, it’s important to remember that the decision on whether to restart is completely up to you and your group. We’re following the government guidelines closely, and will be in touch with volunteers if anything changes.

Are group walks re-starting now? 

We’ve heard from so many of you just how much you’ve missed walking together. I know you are looking forward to walking with friends again, discovering new places and getting back out in nature. 

Following the change in Government advice, our extensive network of Ramblers groups in England, Scotland and Wales are gradually re-starting walking. 

As you can appreciate, your next walk may look a bit different: 

  • Group sizes are restricted to a maximum of 30 and your group may choose to limit the size further to keep everyone safe. 
  • You’ll need to physically distance from anyone not in your household.  
  • Before you start out on your walk, you’ll be asked to register your contact details in line with the Government’s Test and Trace system in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Do keep an eye on your group’s website and our go walking page for up-coming walks near you. You may find your group needs a little bit more time to plan walks for you, so there may not be walks immediately available. 

We look forward to welcoming you to a group walk soon, and hope you enjoy catching up with friends. Thank you so much for your support over this period, which means so much to us. 

Why isn’t my local group offering group walks?

The easing of lockdown measures across Britain allows more freedom for walkers. You may find your group needs a little more time to plan walks for you, so there may not be walks immediately available.  Your local group walk leaders will reintroduce group walks when they feel confident that it is safe to do so.
We understand that some members may be disappointed, but our top priority is the health and wellbeing of our members, volunteers and staff – and we want to do our best to help suppress the spread of the virus.  

Can I pause my membership? / Are you offering extensions to membership? / Refunds?

We are not offering the options for refunds/extensions/option to pause membership. Ramblers membership protects our green spaces, our rights as walkers and helps others to discover the powerful benefits of walking.   
We hope you’ll continue to stand with us as an active member of the Ramblers. 

You’ll continue to receive Walk magazineaccess back-copies of Walk magazine, receive discounts on walking gear and have access to independent walks to explore. During lockdown we are continuing to provide advice on staying active if you are having to self-isolate, as well as more tips and support on independent walking – which you’ll find on our Facebook page as well as in our regular member emails.

At this time, more than ever, as a wonderful community of members we know you will reach out to support each other in new ways, as we all feel the impact of this unprecedented challenge. 

Are Ramblers offices closed?

The Ramblers offices remain closed, so please get in touch with us by phone or email rather than post wherever possible. A few members of staff are going in to open post weekly, but where possible we ask you to call or email us.

We are continuing to provide support to members and volunteers remotely until further notice. It may take a little longer for us to respond to your enquiry – thank you for your patience at this time.

Previous statements

11 May 2020

We are reviewing our guidance regularly in response to the latest government advice. Our priority remains to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff and help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

All Ramblers group walks and activities remain suspended until at least 31 May. 

Latest Government advice

It is clear that Coronavirus has not gone away, and we need to continue to help control the virus to save lives.  Although there are some changes to government guidance, the lockdown is still in force across the UK. 

We recommend that you continue to stay at home as much as possible, stay local and consider walking at quieter times and locations where physical distancing may be easier.  Whilst we understand the temptation for some to drive to your favourite walking spot, we urge our members and all walkers to continue to take extra care and to walk responsibly (see more detail below).  If you or anyone in your household has Coronavirus symptoms, you should continue to self-isolate.

Over the weekend, the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments confirmed changes to their guidance in relation to walking and exercise as part of the next phase of the Covid-19 response. The governments will provide more detail in the coming days and we will update our guidance accordingly.

England

In England, it has been confirmed that from Wednesday 13 May:

  • Exercise can take place outdoors as often as you like, as long you observe physical distancing rules and are alone or with members of your household.
  • You can, if you wish, drive to other destinations to exercise. Again, you must follow social distancing guidelines and be alone or with members of your household. 

Wales

In Wales, it has been confirmed, from today:

  • Exercise can take place outdoors as often as you like, as long you observe physical distancing rules and are alone or with members of your household.
  • People must continue to stay local and any exercise should start and end at home and not involve going a significant distance from home.

Many locations remain closed to visitors, including a number of popular beauty spots and visitor sites throughout Wales.

Scotland

In Scotland, it has been confirmed, from today:

  • Exercise can take place outdoors as often as you like, as long you observe physical distancing rules and are alone or with members of your household.
  • Exercise should be done in your local area. You should not drive to beauty spots, parks or beaches.
  • High risk exercise (that may result in injury and require medical care or emergency services support) should be avoided.
  • However, if you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health - including if that involves travel beyond your local area - then you can do so.

Walk responsibly

Wherever you live, we urge all walkers to respect the interests of all people who use the outdoors, avoid crowded areas, practice social distancing and wash your hands regularly.

Be considerate to others and make sure you follow the Countryside Code (England and Wales) and Scottish Outdoor Access Code. You should:

  • leave gates as you find them
  • keep dogs under close control
  • follow advice on local signs
  • take litter home.

Where possible, you should also:

  • avoid touching gates and railings with your hands
  • consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools, where social distancing may be difficult
  • consider avoiding popular locations and times of day if you can

Know where you can walk

Guidance is changing regularly and the rules for accessing the outdoors differ in England, Wales and Scotland. For an overview of the situation in each nation, including any restrictions on public access, click here.If you are concerned that a path has been blocked illegally or restrictions have been put in place unlawfully, please report this to your local authority. 

We urge all walkers to stay local, to follow social distancing guidance and to walk safely, responsibly and considerately.

Questions

We are working to keep our members, volunteers and partners updated with the latest information on our response to COVID-19 virus via our usual communications channels. This webpage will be updated with the latest information, and will support members and volunteers in communicating how Ramblers GB is responding to the COVID-19 virus.

15 April 2020 

We are reviewing and updating our guidance regularly in response to the latest government advice. Our priority remains to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff and help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus. All Ramblers walks and activities have been cancelled until at least 31 May. 

Stay at home 

Government advice is to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.  Do not meet others, even friends or family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms. You should: 

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
  • You can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run or cycle but please do so safely (see below)
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times (Please follow the latest government guidance on social distancing).
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home 

Walk safely

If you chose to walk as your daily exercise, you should: 

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
  • only go outside alone or with members of your own household
  • keep at least 2 metres (6ft) apart from anyone outside your household 
  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside – for example, avoid touching gates and railings with your hands - and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors
  • if walking your dog in areas used by other people, you should walk your dog on a lead to ensure you can safely keep 2 metres away from others. You can find further guidance for pet owners here.

Walk responsibly

We urge all walkers to respect the interests of all people who use the outdoors and follow government advice to only to walk locally, for a short period of daily exercise, to avoid crowded areas and to practice social distancing. 

If you are walking in local countryside from your doorstep, it is vital to walk responsibly. Be considerate to others and make sure you follow the Countryside Code (England and Wales) and Access Code (Scotland). You should:

  • leave gates as you find them
  • keep dogs under close control
  • follow advice on local signs
  • take litter home.

Where possible, you should also:

  • avoid touching gates and railings with your hands
  • consider using alternative routes that do not pass through gardens, farmyards or schools, where social distancing may be difficult
  • consider avoiding popular locations and times of day if you can

Know where you can walk

The Ramblers has received queries from people concerned about path closures or access restrictions close to where they live. These closures can, in some cases, limit opportunities for people to exercise locally from their doorstep or access essential amenities.

Guidance is changing regularly and the rules for accessing the outdoors differ in England, Wales and Scotland. For an overview of the situation in each nation, including any restrictions on public access, click here.

If you are concerned that a path has been blocked illegally or restrictions have been put in place unlawfully, please report this to your local authority. Read our overview of how COVID-19 is affecting public access in England, Wales and Scotland via the link above.

We urge all walkers to follow social distancing guidance and walk safely, responsibly and considerately.

Questions

We are working to keep our members, volunteers and partners updated with the latest information on our response to COVID-19 virus via our usual communications channels. This webpage will be updated with the latest information, and will support members and volunteers in communicating how Ramblers GB is responding to the COVID-19 virus.

The best way to contact us is to first check the website link for information. If you still have questions, please get in touch via coronavirus@ramblers.zendesk.com and we will aim to get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that our offices are closed, with Ramblers staff working from home.

Thank you for your continued support.

The Ramblers has been around for a long time, through the tough days and the bright days. We will continue to fight for the rights of walkers, for the protection of our important green spaces and for the joys of walking. Together we’re stronger. Thank you for standing with us at this difficult time.

9 April 2020

We are reviewing our guidance daily in response to the latest government advice. Our priority is to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff and help to suppress the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

UK Government advice issued on 23 March 2020 remains in place. To limit the spread of Coronavirus, people should stay at home except for:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a walk, run or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary.

If you are in a household with COVID-19 symptoms, you should self-isolate at home. Those aged 70 or older and those with pre-existing health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19 are particularly advised to practice social distancing. Please see Public Health England’s guidelines on social distancing.

If you choose to walk as your form as exercise, please use the following guidance in order to stay safe:

  • stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily
  • you should only go outside alone or with members of your own household
  • keep at least 2 metres (6ft) apart from anyone outside your household at all times
  • gatherings of more than two in parks or other public spaces have been banned and the police will enforce this
  • if you have a garden, make use of the space for exercise and fresh air
  • take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors

We have received an increasing number of queries from people concerned about landowners closing paths or access to land close to where they live. Whilst everyone should be staying local to their homes, these closures can in some cases, limit opportunities for people to exercise locally or access essential amenities. Guidance is changing regularly and you can read our summary of the current rules around access during the Coronavirus lockdown here

We also have specific advice about Scottish access rights during COVID-19 here.

All Ramblers walks and social activities have been cancelled until at least 31 May.

Questions

We are working to keep our members, volunteers and partners updated with the latest information on our response to COVID-19 virus via our usual communications channels. This webpage will be updated with the latest information, and will support members and volunteers in communicating how Ramblers GB is responding to the COVID-19 virus.

The best way to contact us is to first check the website link for information. If you still have questions, please get in touch via coronavirus@ramblers.zendesk.com and we will aim to get back to you as soon as possible. Please note that our offices are closed, with Ramblers staff working from home.

Thank you for your continued support.

The Ramblers has been around for a long time, through the tough days and the bright days. We will continue to fight for the rights of walkers, for the protection of our important green spaces and for the joys of walking. Together we’re stronger. Thank you for standing with us at this difficult time. 

24 March 2020 

On Monday 23 March, the Government announced that people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • one form of exercise a day – for example a walk, run or cycle – alone or with members of your household;
  • any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person; and
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary.

In line with previous advice, if you choose to walk for exercise you are advised to only walk locally to where you live. You should walk alone or with people from your household. You should not walk with friends or in groups. Keep 2m (6ft) distance from anyone you pass on your walk.

If you are in a household with COVID-19 symptoms, you should self-isolate at home. Those aged 70 or older and those with pre-existing health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19 are particularly advised to practice social distancing.

Please see Public Health England’s guidelines on social distancing.

If you choose to walk locally for exercise, please:

  • Do not walk anywhere that you could get in to trouble and require the emergency services.
  • Avoid touching gates, fences etc. If you do, wash your hands as soon as possible.  

23 March 2020

On Wednesday 18 March, Ramblers GB had no choice but to suspend all group walks and social activities until at least 31 May 2020.

Our current guidance is as follows:

  • We encourage everyone to only walk locally to where you live. This means only walking in places that you can access without the use of a car or public transport. Avoid busy places including popular parks, beauty spots or beaches.
  • Ideally walk on your own or with people from your household, unless you are in a household with COVID-19 symptoms when you should self-isolate at home. Those aged 70 or older and those with pre-existing health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19 should also self-isolate at home.
  • Keep 2m distance from anyone you meet during your walk.
  • Do not walk anywhere that you could get in to trouble and require the emergency services.
  • Avoid touching gates, fences etc. If you do, wash your hands as soon as possible.

17 March 2020

You will have seen the announcements made by the Government yesterday evening (Monday 16 March). We have been following Government advice and we continue to do so.  Our top priority is protecting the health of our members, volunteers and staff.  We also want to help suppress the spread of the Covid19 virus.  So, I want to update you on what the Ramblers is doing and what we need you to do. 

Ramblers GB is suspending the following activities from Wednesday 18 March until at least 31 May 2020 – subject to further developments:

  • all group led walks
  • all Ramblers Walking for Health schemes
  • all activities by Ramblers volunteers including training, path maintenance working groups, coach trips and holidays, meetings, group and social events
  • training for Ramblers
  • the Ramblers GB General Council conference due to be held in Bristol on 4-5 April.

Walking independently

Official Government advice states that, apart from people who are in households with symptoms or who have pre-existing health conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19, going for a walk independently can continue and is an excellent way to maintain health and wellbeing - provided independent walkers stay more than two metres from others. 

Please see Public Health England’s guidelines on social distancing.

For anyone walking in more remote areas, we continue to ask them to stay well within their limits, to avoid any need to call on mountain rescue or other emergency services.

A small group of people about to walk across a field

Guidance for volunteers

Information for volunteers about how Ramblers activities will re-start.