Guidance Notes for Ramblers Walk Leaders

(to be read in conjunction with the Walks Leader’s Checklist)


It is ESSENTIAL that these three requirements are met in order to comply with the requirements of the Ramblers Association’s insurers:

  • The walk MUST have been correctly publicised in advance.
  • Leaders and back-markers MUST be members of the RA
  • If an incident occurs on a walk it MUST be reported immediately after the walk. Contact a Group officer or committee member who will assist in deciding how to deal with the issue.
  • To meet Ramblers’ safeguarding requirements, walkers under the age of 15 cannot join our walks under any circumstances. Walkers aged between 15 and 17 can only walk if they are accompanied by a “responsible adult” who is someone they already know.  If in doubt, take no chances and do not allow under-18s to walk.



The following paragraphs are recommendations and are intended to represent good practice and common sense:


Leaders should be familiar with the Walk Leader’s Checklist, published by the Ramblers Association and available on HWW website.

  1. The aim is to lead the party round the intended route safely, enjoyably, accurately and at an appropriate pace. Walks while being competently organised and led should be informal and friendly.
  2. The leader should recce the walk in advance, preferably with the back-marker. The Recce Report Form (available from the RA web-site) is a useful guide as to what things to look out for. In addition it is useful to note potential locations for ‘comfort stops’ and to know approximately how many stiles there are and also if it is possible for a dog to get through/past them easily.
  3. The leader should appoint a back-marker. Leader and back-marker should both carry mobile phones and exchange numbers before the walk. If the back marker has not walked the route before it can be helpful to give him/her a marked up copy of a map showing the intended route. If the party is small or the walk is in open country a back-marker may not be necessary.
  4. At the start of a walk, the leader should introduce him/herself and the back marker, give a brief description of the walk including distance, time to complete, planned refreshment and ‘comfort’ stops and any unusual hazards likely to be encountered on the walk.
  5. If the party has become unduly spread out or the route is not obvious the leader should consider pausing the walk to allow those ate the back to catch up.


First Aid & Safety

  1. Although individual walkers are encouraged to carry their own first-aid kits, the leader should also carry one.
  2. The presumption is that members of the party are responsible for their own safety and well-being; however, the leader should try to point out hazards which may be hidden or not obvious to less experienced ramblers.
  3. In general, Sussex is a benign walking environment, however, the risks associated with walking in winter and bad conditions especially on the Downs should not be underestimated. Buffeting by wind and rain, and cold and fatigue can significantly increase the risk of a wrong decision or an accident.
  4. The leader’s first duty must be to the weaker/slower members of the party. Those who walk ahead of the leader should be warned that if they continue to do so and go so far ahead that they lose contact with the party it may be considered that they have decided to leave the party.