How to Plan & Lead Walks

All walks demand careful planning, co-ordination and consideration.

Basic guidelines in selecting a route, you should think carefully about the following:

  • You should never plan and or create a walk on your own (if at all possible), no walk should be totally dependent upon one individual; always have an alternative Walk Leader, as back-up and to act as your back-maker, on the day. 
  • The availability of paths or open country.
  • Stay off roads as much as possible: metalled surfaces are hard on feet, and the constant wariness of traffic will diminish your enjoyment
  • Start and finish points. Are they convenient, suitable and easy to find?
  • Are public toilets nearby? Is there somewhere safe to congregate?
  • Transport. Wherever possible, walks should be accessible by public transport. If cars are the only alternative, there should be somewhere to park vehicles safely and without causing annoyance or obstruction to others. Is there opportunity to car share to the starting point?
  • Lunch. Is shelter available in bad weather? If a pub is convenient, will it accommodate your party, and can it provide food? Where can walkers sit and eat their own lunch: in the pub grounds or is there a suitable picnic spot nearby? Check in advance: many pubs no longer allow this, especially if they sell their own food.
  • Length and timing. The distance should never be so much as to tax unduly the capability and experience of your party. Always assume a slower speed than your own. In particular, allow more time for stiles: since most of these can only be climbed by one person at a time, they will slow the pace of a group. Leaders of remote or challenging walks may choose not to disclose the exact starting location until they have vetted walkers by phone in advance.
  • Terrain and weather conditions will also affect walking speed: for walks in upland country, you should shorten the route by 1.5-3km/1-2 miles for every 300m/1,000 feet of ascent. Muddy or windy conditions will also slow your speed.
  • Alternative and escape routes. Prepare less exposed alternatives for use if the weather is bad before you set out, and escape routes to shorten the walk if conditions deteriorate on the way.
  • After you have devised a route, walk it yourself well in advance of the day. Any obstructions or other problems can then be reported to the highway authority so they will hopefully be put right by the time your party walks the route.
  • For more on footpath problems, see the Ramblers Rights of Way page ( 
  • It's also best to re-walk your route a week or so before the event, to refresh your memory and note more recent changes. 

Scheduling your walk;

When it comes to scheduling your walk, you must consult the 4050 Group Walk Coordinator.

Insurance and safety; 

Make sure you are familiar with the principles of safety, and of choosing the appropriate clothing and equipment for walks. Consider taking training in first aid, and encourage walkers to carry a small first-aid kit. Ensuring that you are familiar with the route and conducting a recce will help you lead the walk with greater confidence and increase your ability to warn walkers about likely hazards. 

All walks organised by Ramblers Areas and Groups automatically receive civil liability insurance cover. The only requirement is that the designated Leader(s) is a Ramblers member. This is designed to protect leaders against claims for damage to property and for injury or death which might have happened on the walk. Please note that the policy does not provide personal accident cover. Further information about insurance for Walk Leaders is available on here. 

On the Day;

  • Be early and welcoming, particularly to new walkers to the group.
  • Introduce yourself and the back marker (if you have one, it may be appropriate to appoint one if not).
  • Give details of the walk route, the walk grade & associated pace, refreshments stops, mileage and approximate finish time.
  • Highlight your expectations of walkers and any areas of difficulty or where extra care may be required.
  • Invite declarations from anyone who think they may have difficulty completing the walk. This could also allow anyone with a medical condition to bring it to your attention. 
  • Where appropriate check the equipment of the party and be prepared to turn people away if they are not appropriately attired.
  • Ask the group to introduce themselves (first name). 
  • Count the party and signal the start of the walk.

On the walk;

  • Frequently check that you can see your backmarker and allow for re-grouping as required.
  • Set a pace to suit the fitness and capabilities of the party and advertised grade of the walk.
  • Where there is opportunity for people to walk ahead of the main group, e.g. Up a steep hill, indicate this and where they need to stop to allow regrouping before moving off again.
  • Manage the group over stiles, through gates, along & across roads and in bad weather. Periodically count the group to ensure all are present and look out for anybody with problems.
  • Pont out any places of interest.
  • Ensure that appropriate breaks, including lunch are taken.
  • Make a point of chatting to any newcomers.​

At the end of the walk;

  • Check everyone has returned, are welcome to any after walk refreshments, can get home and thank them for coming.
  • Encourage any non-members to join.​

After the walk;

  • All incidents must be reported as soon as practically possible via the Incident Report Form available on the website. This report also contains some useful telephone numbers.