Leading a Surrey CRC walk
These notes have been written as guidance for walk leaders, for the walk itself.
1. Starting/Finishing Time
We usually start at 10:30am and walkers are advised to arrive at 10:15 so leaving on time should not be a problem. Be flexible on train times if known. In the summer, we often start in the afternoon so that a post or pre walk meal can be offered.
In the past, leaders have often waited well after the start before starting a walk, due to late arrivals. I do not think this is a good idea, because some walkers arrive well before the start time, and it is unfair to keep them hanging around waiting for others to come.
I would advise starting the walk no more than 10 minutes late (e.g. if a train arrives at within 5 minutes). If a walker arrives by car when you are leaving, it will be up to them to catch you up. For the end of the walk, it is worth being aware of train times and walkers plans if informed in advance. For example, if there is a 5pm train, walkers may prefer to get to the station for that and have a shorter afternoon break.
At the beginning of the walk (or shortly after, if the station itself is noisy) pause to pray. This can be delegated, but please give the person you are delegating the prayer to plenty of warning.
After praying please tell people briefly about the walk (i.e. distance, interesting sites, villages, toilets etc). It can be helpful to suggest that people feel free to introduce themselves and talk to each other during the walk.
Please count the walkers at the beginning of the walk, or appoint a back marker. It can be helpful to ask someone else to relieve the back marker after a few miles, not everybody likes being at the back all the time. If there is no back marker, count the walkers now and again during the walk (I find stiles a useful place to do this, since people come through one by one).
Along busy roads please encourage people to walk in single file. They may not do this, but we would be negligent if we did not ask them to. If the weather is really awful, feel free to cut the walk short or turn back. If one or two walkers are much slower than the others, it might be necessary to split the group provided you have a competent map reader who is willing to lead a second group. A group walks at the pace of its slowest member. Don't get too far ahead. Don't let people go on ahead at junctions. Be aware of trick navigational points and make sure you are all together in such situations.
At least three stops are needed, a morning stop, a lunch stop and an afternoon stop. If stopping near a pub, it is useful to find somewhere for people to eat their packed lunch without using the pub grounds. Firstly a few walkers will not enter a pub, secondly a publican could reasonably expect only pub food to be eaten on his premises. It is probably best to remove muddy boots if entering a posh pub. There is an outside chance a publican might refuse to serve walkers. Always consult the Landlord in advance if you can, as he/she can advise you on their preferences. Phoning numbers and orders in advance may sometimes be asked. Arriving early at a Pub is usually appreciated and suggested. With good will, the lunch break is an enjoyable part of the walk, however let walkers know at the start what you plan as some walkers who bring sandwiches may not want to wait around too long. When stopping, it is a good idea to let people know how long they have (suggest
a minimum of 30 mins for lunch, 10 mins for morning and afternoon breaks). Note if you are doing an afternoon walk then plan breaks about every 3-4 miles.
6. Useful items to carry
These include :-
- Walking stick (eg Leki pole)
- mobile phone (in case of emergencies) try to have the numbers of the back markers and give your number to anyone who asks.
- first aid kit
- String or spare boot lace.
7. Walkers with special needs
One or two walkers may appreciate or need a little extra attention.
For example a deaf person finds it very helpful to have a brief written note about the walk route, including details of planned stops.
As another example, occasionally one person appears trapped in conversation with another person, unable to break away for fear of appearing rude or offending the other person. It can be very helpful if the walk leader or a friend of theirs can gently intervene, perhaps simply by coming alongside and changing the subject.