How to lead a walk

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Before the walk

  • Be familiar with the route.
  • Read the risk assessment for the route and know the kinds of hazards that you may encounter.
  • Check you have any equipment you may need such as a mobile phone, paperwork, and a first-aid kit.

At the start of the walk

  • Introduction of leaders and first aider.
  • Complete the register.
  • Route information – mileage, terrain, etc.
  • Pacing – Not a race, fast as the slowest walker.
  • Risks – key risks, e.g. clifftops.
  • Practicalities – don’t leave the walk without informing leader, assemble at end, social venue after walk (optional).

The importance of a warm welcome

  • Make new walkers feel welcome and included, more likely to come back if they have a good experience,
  • Nobody means to form cliques, but it’s always easier for regular walkers to talk to their friends than a new person, so introduce people by name.

During the walk

  • Keep an eye on your new walkers. This may seem obvious, but try to keep feedback to new walkers positive. Rather than “you looked like you were struggling there” try and stick to “you did really well to keep up, if you come back every week you’ll be surprised how much fitter you get”.
  • You can control the pace, so the group doesn’t get too strung out by having occasional stops for people to catch up – give everyone time to recover! You can also reassure people at the start that this will happen, so they don’t need to worry if it feels like they are a long way behind.
  • Encourage slower walkers to walk at the front of the group. They can sometimes walk faster at the front, and they can set the pace for the rest of the group without it being too obvious.

At the end of the walk

  • Check all walkers have returned.
  • Congratulate all.
  • If possible, have some social time, refreshments etc.