Ramblers restart - A phased approach Scotland

Thank you to all Ramblers volunteers for working with us to slowly restart activities in a safe way. 

We are following government announcements closely and will continue to update you accordingly.  

We will support those who want to walk together or volunteer – but remember, there’s no pressure to restart activities if you don’t feel ready.  

As of 30 July 2020: 

  • Some activities can resume in Scotland – however walks must be limited to a maximum of 15 people in total, from no more than five households. Pre-booking and physical distancing are essential.

Please also keep up to date and follow any local lockdown restrictions in your area.

Group walks  

If you’re in Scotland and would like to restart group walks, these are the documents you’ll need: 

  • Ramblers Restart: Planning Walks - What you must do when planning walks, to make sure your walk is safe in the current situation. Remember, group walks in Scotland are limited to 15 people from 5 households in Scotland.  
  • Ramblers Restart: Booking systems - With limits on the number of walkers you can take on a group walk, you must introduce a booking system – use this guide to help you.
  • Ramblers Restart: Leading Walks - Information for walk leaders, including what you must do to make sure your walk is safe.
  • Risk assessment for group walks - Walk leaders already carefully plan walks and work out alternatives routes when Plan A isn’t possible, making the experience safe and enjoyable for all.  We need to make sure there’s a record of this good work.

Please also read the FAQs below for more information about group walks in Scotland. 

Path maintenance 

If you’re in Scotland and would like to restart path maintenance activities, these are the documents you’ll need:

  • Ramblers Restart: Path maintenance - What you must do to make sure your path maintenance activities are carried out in a COVID-safe way.
  • Risk assessment for path maintenance 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Group walks in Scotland

Things you must do 

Why is there different guidance for groups in Scotland? 

Scotland’s devolved administration in Holyrood makes decisions regarding the nation’s approach to COVID-19 lockdown, and we work within those parameters to help keep our Scottish activities safe, responsible and legal. 

We are planning to restart walks – what do we need to do differently?

If you are ready to restart group walks, there are six things that you must do: 

  • Ramblers Walk Leaders must have their role (and the groups they volunteer with) recorded on our system.  
  • Walk leaders must complete a risk assessment for each walk, using our checklist. Download the Risk Assessment - Word Docx / Risk Assessment - PDF
  • Walks must be advertised in advance - please see our insurance guide for more details. 
  • Groups must have a plan in place to limit group size up to 15 people, from 5 households.  
  • Groups must have a record of who has attended the walk to support contact tracing. 
  • Groups must follow the government guidelines on physical distancing. 

How can we limit numbers on the walk? 

There are a number of ways to limit numbers on your group walks. You might ask walkers to contact the walk leader to book a place, or set up a booking page on a website such as Facebook or Meetup. Take a look at our Guide to Booking Systems to help choose the best option for your group. 

Will my group walk be insured? 

Yes. Ramblers provide liability and personal accident insurance for volunteers. In order to be insured, there are a few steps you must take – you can find out more in our Insurance toolkit or in the document hub on Assemble. 

You’ve mentioned my volunteer role needs to be recorded. How do I do that? 

Please email us with your name, membership number, volunteer role(s), and the groups you volunteer with. Please copy your group chair or secretary into the email you send to us. 

Walk coordinators can also send a list of all the walk leaders for your group, and we’ll get everyone recorded in one go! 

Risk assessments 

Why do I need to complete a risk assessment? 

If you’re a walk leader, you already do this before walks, even though you might not currently write it down. You think about risks, hazards and alternative routes you might need to use in to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable walk.

We just need to make sure we put this on paper from now on. It’s standard practice for the types of activities we do at the Ramblers, and is a requirement to meet government guidelines. It’s also part of our duty of care to you and everyone taking part in Ramblers activities.

We know that it is impossible to plan for every scenario! Filling in a risk assessment does not make a walk leader more liable for incidents – nor will the insurance be invalidated if you don’t tick every box. The important thing is to consider the risks, any actions you will take to reduce them – and to fill in the risk assessment template to the best of your ability.

How do I complete a risk assessment?

We’ve put together a short risk assessment checklist to use as part of your normal walk planning and recce - Risk Assessment – Word / Risk Assessment – PDF

Tick the boxes that are relevant to your walk, and add any extra hazards or actions as needed. You don’t need to tick every box!

You must fill in the checklist for every walk you lead, and keep a copy for 12 months (either as a paper or electronic copy). This can be kept by you, or another volunteer in your group.

Walk registers & NHS contact tracing

Should we keep contact details for NHS contact tracing?

Yes. You must keep a record of everyone on the walk, in case this is needed for contact tracing.

For Ramblers Groups – the best way to do this is to take a register using the Ramblers app. Remember – your walk needs to be added to the Group Walks and Events Manager (GWEM) to show on the app.

Remember to explain to walkers that their details may be shared for this purpose, keep records securely, and delete or destroy them after 21 days.

If you have a list of names and contact details from those who booked onto the walk, it’s ok to keep these for contact tracing, provided you keep the information securely and delete or destroy the list after 21 days. 

If you are asked to provide walk contacts for NHS contact tracing, please let us know: volunteersupport@ramblers.zendesk.com

What if someone develops symptoms after the walk?

If someone on the walk later develops symptoms, they should apply to get a COVID-19 test and if requested, they should let NHS contact tracers know that they were on the walk. 

Walk leaders should not share walker contact details unless requested by NHS contact tracers.

If you are asked to provide walk contacts for NHS contact tracing, please let us know: volunteersupport@ramblers.zendesk.com 

Leading walks safely

Can we car-share or take public transport to the start of walks?

Please follow the latest Scottish government guidelines on travel and transport.  

Staying local will often be a good option, and we recommend planning circular routes which can be easily accessed on foot. 

If you do intend to use public (or other shared) transport – always plan your journey carefully, use quieter stations and stops, and keep changes to a minimum. Try to also consider the impact on car parks – existing parking problems are likely to be exacerbated due to current restrictions.

Can we organise a staggered walk, with smaller groups setting off at different times? 

If you plan to split the group with staggered start times, you must make sure that enough walk leaders are available to lead the walk safely. You should plan (and ideally recce) the route together in advance. 

Stagger start times appropriately to ensure physical distancing, and pay particular attention to the start & end points, and anywhere you plan to stop. Plan your rest stops in advance – it may be helpful to stay in contact with the other walk leaders to avoid the groups catching up or meeting where there isn’t enough space. We strongly recommend leaving a time gap between groups of at least 30 minutes. 

Are children allowed to attend Ramblers group walks?

Yes – children are welcome on walks, but they must be accompanied by a responsible adult (for example a parent, grandparent or guardian). Remember that some walking routes may be more challenging for children – if in doubt, contact the walk leader for advice.

In terms of COVID-19, the virus can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. Therefore, please pay special attention to children’s hand hygiene. Children still count towards the overall number of people on each walk.

Path maintenance and other activities

Path maintenance 

We are planning to restart path maintenance – what do we need to do differently? 

If you choose to restart path maintenance activities, there are 6 things you must do:

  • Make sure that team members have their volunteer role recorded on our system. 
  • Get permission from the local authority (for public rights of way in England & Wales) or landowner (for all other paths, including those in Scotland).
  • Follow the guidelines on physical distancing, and limit numbers where necessary
  • Keep a record of everyone, to support NHS contact tracing.
  • Complete a risk assessment (add link) for each task.
  • Get your work signed off by the local authority or landowner.

Please download Ramblers Restart: path maintenance for more information.

Do we have to limit group size for path maintenance?

We’ve not placed a limit on group size, in line with government guidance on working outdoors – however you must assess the work site and limit numbers appropriately, so that there is room for everyone to work safely. Check with your team beforehand so that you know who will be available on the day, and can manage the group size.

What path maintenance activities we can do?

Path maintenance team leaders must think carefully about the tasks which can be carried out safely, and be flexible about new ways of working. The restrictions on physical distancing may mean some tasks (such as gate installation or bridge construction) are not feasible.

All activities should be included on your risk assessment, along with the actions you are taking to maintain physical distancing and keep everyone safe.

Tasks where team members can spread out along the path (such as vegetation clearance) may be easier to manage than work on gates or stiles – check with your local authority about the sort of work available for you to do.

If you have questions about specific activities, please get in touch by email.

Social events, meetings & training

Can we organise group social events, meetings & training?

When organising social events and meetings, you must follow the latest government guidelines.

Meeting virtually might be the best option for your group. During the past months, Ramblers groups and areas have been connecting online – using tools such as Zoom, Whatsapp and Skype to carry out Ramblers business and stay in touch socially. Take a look at our guide on how to organise meetings online. 

If you do plan to meet in person, you must:

  • Understand the risks, and take any steps you need to stay safe.
  • Limit the group size in line with the latest government guidelines. Remember that group size restrictions may be different for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
  • Follow government guidelines on physical distancing, travel and transport.
  • Avoid sharing food, drink or equipment.

We strongly recommend choosing an outdoor location wherever possible.