This guidance is designed to ensure the safety of Members on walks. All participants should be aware of these requirements; however, particular responsibility falls on the Event Leader to ensure that the walk is planned and conducted properly. They should conduct the event in such a way that the participants keep together, are in touch with each other and everything is done to minimise the chance of a participant becoming separated from the group, particularly inexperienced walkers and women.
The guidance applies to all walks, including those arranged impromptu and not part of the formal Programme, for example those undertaken during trips away. In fact, on trips away they are perhaps more important because we are less likely to be familiar with the route, terrain etc.
What we expect of the Event Leader
The Event Leader should plan the route and be clear about the length of walk, type of terrain, transport options and any hazards that exist e.g.
- difficult terrain
- adverse weather conditions
- possibility of walking in darkness
In order to schedule an event, the Event Leader should provide the following information as a minimum, to the Club Programme, in any related emails, on our Website and in Viewpoint:
- Start location
- Start time
- Finish location
- Expected finish time
- Difficulty (Easy / Medium / Hard)
- Terrain (flat/hilly/mountainous, on/off road, muddy/icy etc)
- Phone number of the Leader
Additionally, before the walk date it would be helpful to add:
- Public transport options - even timetables - and parking options for the start and end of the walk.
- Any options for leaving the walk early, eg by public transport
This information can and should be amended as the date nears in light of new knowledge, changing conditions etc
3. Leading the Walk
The Event Leader should
- Explain the planned route, including any particular demands caused by difficult or hazardous areas
- Address any issues raised by members, so that the walk is within the capabilities of everyone in the party
- Check that the group is equipped for any anticipated difficulties (eg lights, whistles, boots)
- In case of any changes to the plan, communicate them to all members
- Maintain headcount in order to keep the group together:
- use a ‘back marker’ if the group is likely to become stretched
- alternatively ‘lead from the back’, ensuring that the front people know where to wait before proceeding at a fork or junction
- If the group needs to be split for any reason, ensure that
- each subgroup has a leader capable of ensuring safe outcome
- you understand the route to be taken by each subgroup
- subgroups can communicate, eg by phone wherever possible
What we expect of Event Members
- Arrive punctually and ready to start the walk
- Understand the route plan and ensure they have appropriate clothing and equipment
- Recognise when a walk is likely to be beyond their capabilities, and either withdraw or limit their participation
- Keep the leader informed of any issues arising, including any departure from the group
- If a walker feels they are not able to complete the walk, they should let the leader know. No walker should stray away from the group. If they need to go ahead or leave, they should give the group leader their exact route and should be able to maintain contact with the event leader via mobile phone.
All Participants: Equipment
What to wear - walkers should be appropriately dressed for the environmental conditions and should always be prepared for rain. Bring a waterproof jacket and several thin layers rather than one thick layer. Unless it is an urban walk, we don't recommend wearing jeans as these get very cold and heavy when wet. If it is cold, bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf. Wear suitable shoes or boots.
What to bring - water, packed lunch (recommended), sunscreen protection, rucksack, torch and sunglasses if it is sunny.
The Event Leader should take a basic first aid kit. COPSE should hold an up to date First Aid kit including antiseptic wipes, washproof plasters, plastic gloves, eye pads, tape, bandages/dressing, safety pins, first aid leaflet. Leaders are not responsible for administering first aid unless they are trained in first aid, although they can provide materials (eg plasters, painkillers) for a Member to use.
Event Members should also equip themselves with a minimum set of emergency kit to deal with minor issues, for example antiseptic cleansing wipes and plasters in case of grazes.