HIGHWORTH AND SWINDON WALKING CLUB GUIDANCE FOR WALK LEADERS

PLANNING YOUR WALK
The walk should keep to public rights of way, access land and permissive paths.  Choose a start location with adequate parking. Consider season, terrain, heights and climbs.  The Club programme will show the length and ‘terrain’ (easy, moderate, etc). Feel free to liaise with the relevant Walks Co-ordinator. 

WALK RECCE
This is to familiarise yourself with the route; check the walking conditions and ensure that there are no obstructions, diversions or errors in the map or guide book. Make a note of points of interest and suitable points for drinks and lunch stops, as well as comfort breaks. If you are unhappy about walking alone or your map reading ability, ask another Club member to go with you.

IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE WALK
Obtain a local weather forecast for the walk period. Take a map, foil blanket and simple first aid kit with you. If you have a mobile phone, make sure that it is fully charged. Please take it with you and keep it switched on (and not on “silent”) for the period before and during the walk, when walkers may need to contact you.

AT THE MEETING POINT
Assess the weather conditions and decide whether to shorten the walk, or exceptionally to cancel it. You may need to organise transport by allocating individuals to cars of drivers willing to take passengers to and from the walk start. You should provide instructions to the drivers on how to reach the walk start. You should note the numbers of cars and walkers travelling to the walk start.  If you can’t go to the meeting point, do appoint a representative to be there to ensure that the walkers reach the walk start with the minimum delay.  He/she should also let you know how many cars are coming from the meeting point.

AT THE WALK START
Check that those travelling from the meeting point have arrived.  Count the number of walkers. If the party is large, ask a volunteer to act as back marker to ensure nobody drops too far behind. Preferably, you should be able to communicate with the back marker by mobile phone.  Guests walk at the discretion of the leader: if a walker appears unable to complete the walk, you are entitled to refuse them, though this is extremely rare.

DURING THE WALK
Stay in front and aim to keep the party together, particularly at stiles, gates and roads. Stop as necessary to allow slower walkers to catch up, preferably at places of interest. At the stop, check that nobody is missing. Drinks and lunch breaks are at the leader’s discretion, but a 10 – 15 minute drinks break (and on standard walks a 30 minute lunch break) is traditional.  On roads with no pavement or suitable verge, walk on the right, unless approaching a blind bend.

ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
The walk leader should take charge and manage the situation, delegating responsibilities as appropriate and ensuring that someone is with the patient at all times until a medical professional takes over.  Make your first aid kit available for minor injuries. Preferably, first aid should be rendered by a qualified First Aider, if there is one in the group.  For more serious incidents, summon assistance by mobile phone dialling 112.  If unable to make contact by mobile phone, then send two volunteers to seek assistance. Do not move the casualty unless he or she is in a dangerous position. Use the foil blanket to keep the casualty warm until expert help arrives.  Afterwards, please report the incident to the Club’s chairman.

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
An obstruction is anything that prevents walkers from exercising their legal right to pass along a right of way. You are allowed to remove as much of the obstruction as is strictly necessary. You are entitled to walk through crops on a right of way, but keep as close as possible to the correct line.  Any serious obstruction should be reported to the rights of way officer of the local authority. If a landowner objects to a walk, be courteous and comply with the request, remembering that you are seeking an enjoyable walk.

INSURANCE
All members when engaged in HSWC activities are protected by Public Liability Insurance for injury to third parties and damage to property of third parties caused by acts of negligence.  Personal injury cover is the responsibility of the individual walker.

Updated 17 July 2019