South Manchester LDWA

South Manchester LDWA Walk Leaders Guidance

Well Beforehand

  • Decide an outline route, approximate mileage, date and start time, and a suitable start/finish location with adequate parking. Bear in mind the time of year for the walk and length of daylight available. Some groups are introducing a grading system for walks, and this may need to be considered.
  • Walk leaders should give brief essential details of the walk to the LDWA Local Group Walks Secretary for inclusion on the local group LDWA webpages (pre-publicising walks is an insurance requirement).
  • Work out a detailed route on 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 maps with possible alternatives. This should be on rights of way, permissive paths or access land unless you get specific permission to cross private land.
  • Unless you are very familiar with the route, recce the route, and if necessary seek alternatives that circumvent difficulties or improve the walk. You may wish to make a GPS record of the route.
  • Alternative or escape routes must be considered by walk leaders where walks are in remote areas, difficult terrain or where poor weather conditions are expected.
  • Think where you might take breaks in fine weather (viewpoints) and poor weather (shelter).
  • To add interest, perhaps find out a little about historic buildings, wildlife locations, distant features etc., to tell your group.

The Day Before

  • Check the weather forecast and consider any consequent changes to the route.
  • Ensure that your own equipment is more than just adequate for your own needs, remembering that you may have to cope with an emergency. In particular, carry a bivvy bag, whistle, mobile phone, spare clothing etc.

At the start

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before the start time to welcome walkers, particularly newcomers, and advise on parking as necessary.
  • Complete the Social Walk Register Form listing those on the walk - for members record their membership number and for visitors record their name and some contact details, e.g. address, email address or phone number. (Our insurers require that those on a walk may be contactable in the event of a claim.) This task could be delegated to another member on the walk. The form may be obtained from your group walks secretary or downloaded from the toolkit and should be returned to the group secretary after completion; it will be stored securely for seven years.
  • Note that LDWA policy allows young people under the age of 18 to join social walks if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Leaders also have a responsibility to young people and vulnerable adults, see the LDWA safeguarding policy with specific documents for young people and adults. Link to the toolkit -
  • Check that everyone is adequately equipped. The Walk leader should consider carrying extra items to use as back-up e.g. a small first aid kit.
  • Consider whether the size of the group warrants an appointed backmarker.
  • Spend a couple of minutes telling the group about the walk and mention arrangements for breaks and lunch. If there are significant changes from the advertised walk, e.g. if the mileage turns out to be significantly longer or shorter, let the group know.
  • Point out, especially to newcomers, that photographs may be taken on the walk which may be published in Strider, on the group website or on Facebook, so walkers should let the leader know if they object to appearing in any such photographs.
  • Count the group.
  • Explain to the group the importance of staying together during the route and politely remind people not to dash off ahead.

During the walk

  • There are many styles of leadership – it's not necessary to be at the front all the time, but you should ensure no-one gets too far ahead, and you should be at the front when the route is difficult or not obvious.
  • Be particularly alert at hazards such as road crossings, rough sections, livestock areas, etc. Crossing fields with cattle requires particular care and sometimes an alternative route may be necessary. Please refer to further matters at the end of the document for further guidance around walking near livestock.
  • Judging the right pace can be difficult: a reasonable rate of progress is needed but always remember these are social walks and that walkers should not feel unduly pushed.
  • Whilst walkers may get a little spread out at times, the group must be kept essentially together. Keep in touch visually with the backmarker and if necessary slow down or wait so the party does not get too spread out.
  • Be prepared to shorten or modify the route if the state of the weather or the party make this wise.

First aid

All walkers are strongly encouraged to carry personal first aid kits sufficient for minor problems. A leader may carry extra sterile dressings and bandages but current advice is that leaders should not give tablets, medication or creams to others. Walkers should be strongly advised to carry an ICE (in case of emergency) card in the top of their rucksack giving details of an emergency contact and of any medical conditions.

Walking Near Livestock

The countryside is a working environment and it's important to be aware of the Countryside Code about being respectful of farm and farm animals. Your actions could affect other people's lives and their livelihoods. Here is some advice on what to do when walking near livestock:

  • Give wild animals, livestock and horses plenty of space. Their behaviour can be unpredictable, especially when they are with their young.
  • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.Where possible walk around herds.
  • Keepyourdogclose,onashortlead,andundereffectivecontrol.Don'thangonto your dog if you are threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle will chase the dog and not you. For more information please refer to the LDWA dogs on walks policy.
  • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
  • Report any frightening incidents or attacks to the landowner, the rights of way team/highway authority, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and also the police if it's of a serious nature. Keep us informed of any problems you experience via the Incident From.
  • Co-operate with people working in the countryside. For example, follow the farmer's directions when animals are being moved or gathered. This helps keep everybody safe.
  • Do not feed livestock, horses or wild animals as it can cause them harm.
  • If you consider the route dangerous, look for an alternative reasonable route.

At the end of the walk

  • Thank walkers for coming and remind them of the next walk.
  • Have a word with any newcomers to encourage them to come on future walks and to join the LDWA. Non-members are expected to join after coming on three walks.
  • If there have been any accidents, injuries or incidents, including damage to property, ensure that an incident form, which is on the toolkit, is completed and sent to the LDWA Treasurer. Note that the LDWA has an insurance policy that covers third party liability. The policy may be found in several documents in the LDWA toolkit, and any queries should be made to the Treasurer. Similarly, any incidents relating to disclosure or witnessing signs of abuse of young people or vulnerable adults should be reported in accordance with the Safeguarding policy within the toolkit.