Colchester Ramblers

Walk Leaders Checklist


The checklist below largely reflects the latest version of the RA pocket guide [version 1.3 Mar 2011] and applies to all types of walk. Good planning adds to the enjoyment of the walk for all involved and encourages newcomers to come again. If you are interested in learning to lead or would like to put a walk in the four-monthly Walks Programme, contact any of the Committee for advice. We are only too pleased to advise and encourage new comers to the pleasures and art of leading a successful walk. If you are either a novice map reader or simply want to refresh your knowledge and skills, you are strongly advised to make contact with John Watts who runs an excellent Navigation and Walk Leadership Skills course.

If you are a leader already and have not received a pocket sized laminated Walk Leaders Checklist, please contact the Secretary for one. However, please be aware that this note updates or amplifies the RA laminated version referred to above.


Choose the route you are thinking of using

  • the start point/area of the walk/length-distance/timing, circular/linear/figure of 8
  • consider terrain/elevation/ascent and potential obstacles or other hazards
  • from map or guidebook (or combination of both), as well as all the walks available on the Colchester Ramblers website, research any potential points of interest to include any “wow” factors you will wish to use, to describe your intended walk on the four-monthly Walks Programme
  • transport options/routes include parking arrangements, check timings, where appropriate eg Wednesday and Sunday full walks, what the lunch options are [book the pub as soon as possible], rest and toilet stops on the walk, bad weather alternatives/escape routes
  • write route card/navigation notes for yourself
  • mark up your map
  • having already booked the date for your walk with the appropriate Walks Coordinator in advance, send a description to them, following the standard format to include your name and mobile number (see examples in the current Walks Programme)

Ideally, you should conduct two recces of the walk. The first one about 6 weeks before so that any problems can be reported and there is a chance of getting them fixed before the walk. The second one, (preferably with back marker) no later than a week before the actual walk

  • confirm pub still OK and obtain a copy of the menu + confirm booking arrangements for individual orders for food ie ringing through orders at the morning coffee stop.
  • walk the full route, undertaking a risk assessment of the whole route and to check:-
  •      timings
  •      rest/coffee and potential toilet stops
  •      test your mobile network that it connects to the pub OK
  •      potential obstacles [reporting any problems to the Footpath Secretary using the “Reporting Paths Advice      Notice” on the Colchester Ramblers website]
  •      note critical navigation points and where necessary, bearings – consider taking photos of difficult      locations to remind you on the day, adjusting routes if necessary
  •      confirm/amend the marking up of your map using different highlight pens to show route, stops, pub etc


This should include:-

  • checking and assessing the weather forecast and reviewing alternative routes if necessary
  • checking personal gear eg first aid kit, marked map, (any photos), compass, secateurs for any difficult vegetation that may not have been cleared during your recce, a fully charged mobile phone that contains personal “ICE” details – see separate note on the Colchester Ramblers website, and if undertaking some road walking, consider taking some high visibility vests
  • ensuring you have some Ramblers membership leaflets for new walkers
  • if appropriate, check public transport
  • ensure you have the pub menu, the telephone number of the pub and a list ready for completion (on a piece of board ideally)
  • getting out your own flask/drink for the coffee stop + snack


  • be early, be welcoming especially to newcomers – introduce them to the Group
  • if appropriate, circulate pub menu for completion OR ensure everyone has ordered their food at the pub before you start (figure of 8 walk only)
  • introduction and welcome, walk details, points of special interest, refreshment and rest stops, approximate timings – lunch and return
  • advise potential risk factors eg cattle in field, slippery bridges, road walking
  • look after non-RA people, give membership details and either a copy of the Walks Programme or the website details
  • check fitness and equipment of party (particularly footwear if “going” is likely to be boggy or hard going) – identify anyone with special needs
  • appoint or ask for a volunteer backmarker (if not already got one)
  • advise dog-owners of Group policy
  • remind backmarker to count the number of walkers out
  • signal start of the walk


  • stay at the front, check often that you can see your backmarker especially at critical navigation points such as turns off main route, wooded areas etc
  • set a reasonable pace – watch for stragglers
  • concentrate on navigation, check timings against route card/navigation notes
  • manage: flow of party – regrouping – passage past or over gates and stiles – impact on countryside – stop at points of interest, giving brief description as necessary
  • at the morning rest/coffee stop, give indication of length of stop and ring through the order for the food – ask back marker to check area after everyone moves off for any rubbish or kit left behind eg walking poles
  • try to speak to newcomers – find out their interests – explain the work/ethos of the Ramblers
  • be alert to problems (individual), weather, road walking etc – involve others in your party as necessary
  • at pub, have your “food order form” handy – check everyone has their order OK and the food is alright – advise moving off time
  • after pub meal, check everyone has paid, all kit held and who is not walking pm (figure of 8 walk only)
  • enjoy the walk!


  • check everyone has returned and can get home OK
  • report any incidents and obstructions to the Footpath Secretary
  • try and encourage potential new members to join – explain three walk policy
Thursday, January 17, 2019