Planning and Leading a Walk


​Becoming a walk leader

​A full walks programme depends on sufficient members volunteering to lead walks and we always welcome new walk leaders.  If you are hesitant about volunteering don't worry, there is plenty of support available.  When you first volunteer you will be sent a list of meeting places and grid references which other leaders have used, together with a 'Walk Leader's Checklist'.


A hady list of tips to help walk leaders run safe and enjoyable walks. It's durable and waterproof, just right for carrying on walks.  You can also get a copy by sending a request via

Find a route - from maps, books or the Ramblers Website, Ramblers Routes.  Walk routes need not be new: your favourite local walk will be fine and in addition our Walks Organiser Jasmine List (01297 552313) has a number of walks available to get you started. You can always ask Jasmine or the Programme co-ordinator Alan Kimbell (01404 45944) or any member of the committee if you need any help planning, measuring or recceing a walk.

To assist new leaders and as a refresher to existing leaders, we run from time to time 'Map and Compass' and 'Leader Training' sessions.  All very informal and fun; a good way to learn the basics, get advice and pick up some tips.  Keep an eye on either the printed programme or look online Social Events and Activities.

Walk Leaders Events

Thanks to the East Devon Ramblers who attended the Walks Leaders event in July 2019.  As a follow-up we have produced a hand-out covering many of the concerns raised titled 'Tips for Walk Leaders'. You can download a copy here.

​Insurance essentials

​Ramblers recommend that all new leaders should be familiar with the basic terms of the insurance cover which you can view in the Ramblers Toolkit or follow link for Walk Leader Insurance Factsheet.


For information on planning and leading a COVID-safe walk, please take a look in the Ramblers Volunteer Zone: Coronavirus advice.  Here you can find the latest guidance and Activity guides, including the essential Risk Assessment form, for taking part in and leading a walk in a COVID secure way.

Planning the walk

​It's best to start planning the walk as soon as possible.  Our programmes last for four months and you need to send in your walk details at least two months before the start of the new programme, so you will often need to be planning walks six months or more before you are due to lead them, and at a different season of the year.

Things to consider:

  • Choose the route: location, length and timing, whether linear or circular.  Most of our walks are circular with the occasional linear walk involving bus, train or car shuffle.
  • Try to ensure the walk length is correctly described; it is better to over-estimate.  Use a measuring wheel or a piece of string on OS maps.  Alternatively use online maps such as OS Maps, Viewranger or Memory Map. Many users find that adding on 10% to the total helps with any twists and turns. 
  • Consider the season: some winter walks planned in the summer can become very muddy and much tougher to walk in the winter and in summer paths can become very overgrown.
  • Consider the terrain, ascent/decent. If there are significant ascents you can include these in the walk details. Will the walk be leisurely, moderate or strenuous?  Refer to Walk Difficulty and Grading for guidance.
  • Car parking at the start: is it big enough for the expected number of cars.  If you are thinking of using a community/village hall/church car park, please seek permission beforehand; it's group policy to offer a donation e.g. £1 per person or £2 per car (if more than one person in a car). Are there any toilets available. Please always park with consideration to local residents.
  • Researching points of interest can add value to your walk.
  • We recommend that only experienced walkers lead on the open moors of Dartmoor and Exmoor.

Before the walk

  • Pre-walk (recce) the full walk, preferably with your backmarker: note critical navigation points, problems and hazards such as road crossings.  Check timings and distance, adjusting if necessary.
  • Consider suitable locations for lunch and rest stops, any toilets along the way, bad weather alternatives and cut offs for anyone struggling.
  • Report any path or access problem in  East Devon to the Footpath Secretary. See paper programme for details. For all other areas use Pathwatch.

Publishing the walk

  • ​Give your walk an engaging title (Brief description).  All walk listing are published online, see Find a walk, as well as in our printed programme.  The potential walker online will see the 'Brief description' first so this is your chance to grab their attention.  You can then use the 'Description of route' to emphasise any highlights and places on the route; essential instructions or information can be included here as well.  Space is limited in the printed programme so your walk description may be edited.
  • All Friday walks start at 10am. Wednesday and Sunday walks generally start at 10am in the winter programme and at 10 or 10:30am in the spring and summer programmes.  Occasionally start times can be varied where, for example it is necessary to fit in with a public transport timetable.
  • Complete the chit (walk details) and send to the Walks Organiser Jas by email: or by post - see paper programme for details. You don't need to include any headings in your note/email, ​just complete in the following order:​

​​Leader(s) - Leader's Contact Telephone - Walk Start Point - OS Map Grid Reference - Parking Charge (yes/no) - Brief Description - Description of Route - Date - Day - Start Time - Distance in Miles - Walk Grade - Dogs (on lead/assistance dogs only) - Picnic Required

For guidance on Dogs see Walking with Dogs  Assistance dogs must be allowed on every EDR walk, except where the route is unsuitable, e.g. because you are walking where dogs are banned.  If this is the case please add "please contact the walk leader in advance to discuss your requirements" to your walk details on the chit.​

For help with OS map grid reference see Grid Reference Finder.

For further information, please see Leading a Walk.