Buxton & District

Walking Group Guidelines

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These guidelines used by our Thursday Longer Walks group are a good resource for us too.

Buxton U3A Thursday Longer Walks Group Guidelines
Guidelines for walkers
These guidelines are intended to be helpful to those participants in the Buxton U3A Thursday Longer Walks Group or anyone who is thinking of walking with us. They are similar to the other Buxton U3A walking group guidelines but each group has its own specific version. Amendments and suggestions for their improvement are most welcome.
All U3A members are mature adults and as such should take responsibility for their own safety particularly when out walking in the countryside.
Equipment
To ensure a good degree of personal safety when in the hills, it is recommended that every walker carry/wear the following items on every outing.
• Waterproof walking boots with good tread and ankle support.
• Waterproof jacket and trousers.
• A rucksack (most people use a typical day-sack of 20L – 35L capacity depending on their personal preferences).
• Drinks: most people take coffee or other hot drinks for morning breaks and lunch; you should also carry and drink enough water or other cold drinks to make sure you stay hydrated, especially on hot days.
• Food for the day (you will need to bring a packed lunch and snack(s) for breaks).
• Spare warm clothing ( it is best to use a layering system so you can add and take off layers as it gets colder or warmer) keep spare clothing in a waterproof plastic bag in your rucksack (rucksacks are not waterproof and you don’t want to put on wet layers in the cold).
• Hat for protection from rain or even sun.
• Basic First Aid Kit.
• Personal medication.
• Sun block or cream may also be required.
• Gloves and warm hat.
• Survival Bag / Space Blanket.
• Whistle.
• It is also a good idea to carry map and compass / GPS and know how to use them to navigate to safety and/or guide emergency services to you.
• Some people like to use walking poles, this is entirely a matter of personal preference.
Safe and respectful walking
We want everyone to enjoy themselves and stay safe on our walks and we want to take care of the environment we walk in and be respectful of landowners and of other users of the countryside.
Each walker is responsible for their own actions, they must take care of their own safety and the safety of others. You should follow the countryside code and common sense walking guidelines including:
• We walk as a group and the group should remain together in all but exceptional circumstances ( any split in the group must for a good reason of safety or wellbeing, any split must be agreed by the walk leader. If the group is required to split then each part of the group should be properly equipped, each part must have someone who can navigate to safety, there must be transport arrangements for all to get home and it must be agreed where the group will reassemble or how it will be checked that all parts have finished safely).
• You may walk ahead of the walk leader must remain close enough to be seen and to be called back if you pass a turning point. If the walk leader asks you to stay behind them then you should do so.
• The walk leader should make sure that all of the group is together and we should all help to keep the group together:
o If someone is falling behind please let the walk leader know.
o If someone is falling behind all of the group must slow down and allow them to catch up and keep up.
o If you stop for a call of nature please make sure that the walk leader or another member of the group knows.
o For larger groups the walk leader may appoint a backmarker to walk at the back of the group to help make sure nobody is dropped and that the group stays together.
o Extra care should be taken to keep the group close together in poor visibility or in more difficult terrain.
o Please carry a charged mobile phone, keep it switched on and make sure the group leader, the walk leader and other group members have your number.
• Do not leave any litter.
• Generally we should leave gates as we find them –the last person in the group should close gates unless they know or are told that the gate was open to begin with.
• Take care of livestock, wildlife and crops.
• As we will often walk through areas with sheep, cattle, birds etc. we do not allow dogs on Thursday longer walks.
• As far as is possible stick to defined footpaths.

Medical Emergencies
It is rare for an incident to occur on one of our walks but it is always best to be prepared for the worst.
U3A walking groups are not required to walk with a qualified first aider. The guidelines are that in the event of a serious injury/illness the emergency services should be called on 999 or 112, even if there happens to be a qualified first aider on the walk (mountain rescue can be contacted by calling 999/112 and asking for the police).
In addition the following guidelines should be followed:
• Each walker should carry a basic first aid kit and any medication that they need to take regularly or in case of emergency. You should not provide any medication for anyone else (dressing, bandages etc. are ok but not medication)
• Everyone should carry a note of:
o Details of any allergies, medical conditions and any medication and if carrying medication a note of where it can be found.
o Your name, address, telephone number,
o Next of kin name and telephone number
o Doctor’s name and telephone number
o The information should be clearly written on a piece of paper or card which is in a sealed, waterproof plastic bag kept in an easily accessible part of your rucksack: preferably a side pocket or top pocket. It should be easily identifiable and it should be kept up to date.
• Let the walk leader know if you have any medical condition which is relevant to you walking with the group.
• Please provide the group leader with next of kin / emergency contact details.
• It is a good idea to put an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact on your mobile phone for the emergency services.

Grade of walks
It is not easy to describe how difficult each walk will be (one person’s “easy” walk is another person’s “strenuous” walk). So we prefer to give a more general guideline about the walks that the group undertakes. Buxton U3A Thursday Longer Walks are:
• Usually in or close to the Peak District
• Usually at least 10 miles long
• Rarely more than 13 miles long (less in winter)
• Usually include some ascent and descent; there will often be 1,000ft – 2,000ft of ascent but only rarely more than 2,500ft
• Can cover a variety of terrains
• Will usually be mainly on public footpaths and/or paths on access land but may include some trail or road walking or more difficult terrain such as open moorland
• Occasionally there may be a little bit of scrambling over rocks (but nothing that could be classified as rock climbing)
• Walk leaders should let people know in advance if there will be any of the more challenging elements in a walk (e.g. 13 miles or more, more than 2,500ft of ascent, some scrambling or difficult terrain)

Leading Walks
Walks are led by members of the group and everyone is encouraged to take part in leading walks for the group after they have walked with the group several times. Nobody will be pushed into leading walks if they are not able to do so. Initially assistance may be given if required and sometimes less experienced people have paired up with someone with more experience.
Group members will be asked in advance to lead walks in the following quarterly walks programme. In planning their routes, walk leaders should:
• Check the distance, ascent, terrain and difficulty is appropriate for the group
• Identify possible problems areas, e.g. stiles, rough ground.
• Plan access to start and finish (e.g. car parking, bus/train routes)
• Identify where weather conditions may affect the route
• Pick out some points of interest and plan stops for coffee, lunch and tea breaks
• Prepare a walk plan and identify possible escape routes
• Make sure that they are confident to navigate and lead the group on the route
On the day of the walk leaders should:
• Check the weather forecast for the day
• Advise the group of any changes due to weather conditions
• Remind walkers of distance, any steep climbs or descents, and return time.
• Carry with you a good map of the area that you are to walk.
• Take your mobile phone in case of emergency.
• At the start ask if anyone has any particular medical problems that might affect him or her on the walk to let you know.
• Confirm the number of walkers, including yourself before leaving the starting point.
• Appoint a back marker if you need help ensuring the group stays together
• Walk at the pace of the slowest and from time to time stop and wait for the back marker to catch up with the main body.
• Ensure the front walkers know where to stop.