When can Ramblers activities restart?
Whilst the easing of lockdown restrictions allows walkers more freedom, it’s clear the COVID-19 has not gone away. Our priority remains to protect the health and wellbeing of Ramblers members, volunteers and staff, and to help suppress the spread of the virus.
We need to be flexible in our planning, which may mean we need to organise Ramblers activities in different ways. We also need to make sure that the right support is in place for volunteers to carry out their roles safely.
The situation is changing all the time, and it’s clear that some activities will be able to start before others. We will take a cautious and phased approach to reintroduce Ramblers activities, which may progress at different paces in England, Scotland and Wales.
How will Ramblers decide when activities can restart?
We’re using five key criteria to assess Ramblers activities, and guide our decision-making:
- Social contact
- Physical distancing
- Health & safety
- Acting responsibly
Download our quick guide to find out more about the criteria, and how they apply to Ramblers activities.
Activities must meet all five criteria before they can resume. It’s likely that some will be able to start sooner than others – and depending on how the situation develops, activities may need to be suspended again. There may be differences in England, Scotland and Wales.
We understand that some people may disagree with this approach – however our top priority is to protect the health of our members, volunteers and staff, and to help suppress the spread of COVID-19.
How often will the Ramblers review this?
We will continue to monitor government guidance in all nations closely, and will review activities on a rolling basis. As things change, we will keep you updated on this page and Assemble.
My volunteer activity has re-started – what should I do next?
Once an activity has restarted, you should:
I’m in the ‘clinically vulnerable’ category – can I take part in Ramblers activities when they re-start?
Those considered to be ‘clinically vulnerable’ are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, and should take extra care to minimise contact with others from outside your household. This includes everyone over 70, and those with a variety of underlying health conditions. You can find more information on the NHS website.
Taking part in Ramblers activities outside the home may put you and those around you at higher risk. It may not be the right decision at this time.
We urge all volunteers to consider the personal risks involved in joining Ramblers activities carefully, to exercise caution, and to make a decision which is right for you and those around you.
Download our quick guide for the key questions you need to consider before volunteering at this time.
I’m not able to volunteer, or don’t want to at this time – what should I do next?
We know that COVID-19 has affected everyone in different ways. Whatever your individual circumstance, there is no obligation to volunteer at any time – and we urge you to make the decision that is right for you.
Remember there are lots of different ways to volunteer. Some activities can be done online – for example, online campaigning, creating Ramblers Routes or editing your local group website. Get in touch with your local group or area to stay in touch, and find out more about the different ways to get involved!
Will Ramblers activities be insured?
Only the activities listed above will be covered by Ramblers insurance. All other face-to-face and group activities remain suspended until further notice – including social events and path maintenance work parties. Any activities which continue to be organised locally will not be considered Ramblers activities and will not be covered by the Ramblers insurance.
You can find out more about Ramblers insurance for volunteers in our Insurance toolkit.
How can I check if my volunteer role is recorded?
In order to volunteer, your volunteer role needs to be recorded. All volunteering with the Ramblers is recorded on Assemble. It’s important that we know who our volunteers are, so that everyone is properly supported and protected. This includes walk leaders, Ramblers Routes volunteers and footpath wardens.
If you receive the monthly volunteer newsletter direct (not forwarded on by someone else) you can access Assemble: https://ramblers.goassemble.com.
You’ll have been sent an email, in the last few months, about how to log into Assemble but if you want to read the introductory guide, you can download it here.
Remember – Assemble uses the Ramblers’ single account. This is not the same password as the Ramblers’ website. If you’ve not used it before, there’s a quick guide on getting your Ramblers’ single account here.
How can I be added to Assemble or add a volunteer role to my profile there?
You cannot add roles or create a record yourself. Please email us with the following information:
- your name
- membership number
- volunteer role
- when you started volunteering
- group name.
Please copy (cc) your group chair or secretary into the email so that they know that you’ve asked to be added as a volunteer in your group.
Now that the government guidance has changed – can group walks start again?
In Scotland – group walks can restart from Friday 10 July, subject to following latest government guidelines. This includes limiting group size to 15 people, from a maximum of five households. We will support those who want to walk together, but there is no rush or pressure from us to restart group walks immediately.
In Wales – all group walks remain suspended until further notice.
In England – small group walks can resume from Wednesday 1 July, subject to following the latest government guidelines. Group size must be limited to a maximum of 6 people. This means the walk leader, plus 5 other walkers.
Remember, if your group doesn’t want to restart walks at this time, there is no obligation to do so. We will support you to make the right decision for your group.
When you do restart group walks, there are a number of steps that you must take in order to plan and lead walks safely. This includes: introducing a booking system to limit the number of people on your walks, leading different types of walks, assessing the risks, and reminding walkers about hygiene and physical distancing.
Download our guidance on planning walks, booking systems, and leading group walks to find out more about.
Do we need to limit the number of people on the walk?
All group walks must be organised in line with the latest government guidelines, depending on whether you live in England, Scotland or Wales. Please see the guidance at the top of this page for the latest updates on group size, and walker to walk leader ratio.
We know that more people will want to join a walk than there are places available. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to make sure that the booking process is fair and accessible.
There are a number of ways to limit numbers on your group walks. For example, you may 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 Quick Guide to Booking Systems to help you choose the best option for your group.
Should we plan and publish our next walk programme?
We need to be flexible in our planning – you may find that fewer walk leaders are available, and plans need to change at short notice.
We do not recommend planning a 3 or 6 month walk programme, or distributing printed programmes. Think about organising a rolling walk programme instead, so that walks can easily be added and advertised at short notice. You could also organise pop-up walks to give walk leaders more flexibility.
Please take a look at our Guide to Planning Walks for more information and advice for walk programme coordinators.
My group already has walks published on the Group Walks and Events Manager – can these take place?
If your group already has walks planned, the walk programme coordinator must re-confirm with each walk leader – walks planned a while ago may need to be cancelled or changed.
Remember to update the walk listings with any changes, including booking details – by adding this template text to the ‘Additional Notes’ section.
We strongly recommend that walk leaders recce the route again, close to when they plan to lead the group walk, in case conditions have changed. Read our guide on leading walks for more information.
I am a walk leader – is there anything I need to do differently?
We need to organise walks differently, to make sure that they are safe for everyone to enjoy. This includes: planning different types of walks to those you might usually lead, limiting the number of walkers, and completing a short risk assessment for every walk.
Please download our guidance for walk leaders, to find out the steps that you need to take before, during and after your walks.
Do I need to complete a risk assessment?
It’s important to understand the risks on your walk, and take any steps that you can to reduce them – to keep yourself and everyone in the group safe.
We’ve put together a short risk assessment checklist Risk Assessment - Word Docx (250KB) Risk Assessment - PDF (150KB) to use as part of your normal walk planning and recce. Please complete and keep a record of this for every walk you lead (either as a paper or electronic copy). If there’s an incident on your walk and an insurance claim is made, our insurers might ask to see the risk assessment.
Can we car-share or take public transport to the start of walks?
It’s important to think about transport and travel when planning your walks.
The latest government advice is to minimise the use of public transport, and to avoid car-sharing with anyone outside of your household or social bubble – except for essential journeys, when an alternative cannot be arranged.
This means that staying local will often be the best option. We recommend planning circular routes which can be easily accessed on foot.
However if you do intend to use public (or other shared) transport, you must follow the latest government guidelines on physical distancing and face coverings. Always plan your journey carefully, use quieter stations and stops, and keep changes to a minimum.
Please see the government website for the latest guidelines on travel and transport.
Can we organise a walk with several small groups separated along the path, or setting off at staggered start times?
A larger group breaking into small groups at the start of the walk, or setting off at staggered start times, would be difficult to organise in a safe and considerate way. Physical distancing would be difficult at the start point, and groups may meet each other due to different paces, or rest stops. A large Ramblers group arriving at the same place also puts a strain on a single location, even with staggered start times.
Think about organising walks in different locations instead. It’s a great opportunity to increase the range of walks you offer (for example you could run walks of different lengths or difficulty levels on the same day).
If you are planning walks at the same location on the same day, you must organise these as separate walks, leaving enough time for the first group to finish the walk (and leave the car park, or other end point) before the second walk is due to start. We recommend organising one walk in the morning and one in the afternoon.
When can we start to organise larger led group walks?
The latest government guidelines in all nations still place significant restrictions on social contact. All Ramblers group walks must be organised in accordance with these guidelines – and we need to work together to plan how larger groups activities can be managed safely.
In Wales – all group walks remain suspended until further notice.
In England – group walks of more than 6 people remain suspended.
In Scotland – group walks of more than 15 people, or more than five households, remain suspended.
Can Ramblers Walking for Health walks restart?
Walking for Health is England’s largest network of health walks with over 360 active walking schemes, helping people across the country lead a more active lifestyle. We’ve done this with great success for over 14 years, improving the mental and physical wellbeing of thousands of people.
From Wednesday 1 July, Walking for Health group walks can resume under the same guidance as Ramblers walks. Group size must be limited to a maximum of 6 people. This means the walk leader, plus 5 walkers.
If you have any questions about Walking for Health, please contact the team by email: email@example.com
Can we start to plan group events and meetings?
Face to face events and group meetings remain suspended until further notice – but you could consider meeting virtually!
During the past months, Ramblers groups and areas have been connecting online, using tools such as Zoom, Whatsapp and Skype – both to carry out Ramblers business and stay in touch socially. Take a look at our guide on how to organise meetings online.
Can path warden and path monitoring activities re-start?
In England – path warden activities (path monitoring and waymarking) can restart.
In Scotland – path monitoring and investigation of access issues can re-start.
In Wales – path warden activities (path monitoring and waymarking) can re-start, but only if carried out locally, within a short distance from home.
Download our activity guides on path monitoring and way-marking to find out more about the steps you need to take.
Remember, in order to volunteer for the Ramblers, your role needs to be recorded on our system. See the FAQs above for more information.
Can path maintenance activities re-start?
No – path maintenance work parties remain suspended until further notice. This includes vegetation clearance, gate and stile installation and other path repairs. Any work parties which continue to be organised locally will not be considered Ramblers activities
and will not be covered by the Ramblers insurance.
The government advice remains to limit contact with others. Path maintenance tasks are usually carried out in groups, and some require close contact with other team members. There are many factors to consider – including how tools are shared, transport to and from work sites, waste disposal, and the ability of local authorities to assign and supervise tasks at this time. It’s essential that we have the right risk assessments and insurance in place too.
We are working on guidance to help restart these activities in a way which is safe and responsible. We’ll continue to work with you on this, and reintroduce path maintenance activities when we are confident it is safe to do so.