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Update on social walks

Posted on 2020-09-23

The National Executive Committee (NEC) has reviewed the new regulations that were announced by the four UK nations on 22.09.20. In doing so, the NEC has liaised with Sport Scotland, Sport England and the Ramblers. Sport Wales do not provide a service in the same way as the other nations. The NEC has taken the decision to deal only with what is legally permissible.  Walk leaders must be comfortable with leading social walks in accordance with the rules, delivery plan and risk assessment from the LDWA as well as local/national government guidance. This is due to the fact that the LDWA has 43 Local Groups and circumstances are different from group to group and attitudes will inevitably differ member by member.  As a consequence of reviewing what can and can’t be done in each of the three nations in which the LDWA operates, the following applies:


Nothing has changed in relation to the rules, delivery plan and risk assessment that were provided by the NEC on 26.08.20. Consequently Local Groups may continue to provide a walks programme as long as it complies with the new rules provided by the LDWA. In summary, group walks where 7-30 people inclusive attend must have a delivery plan/risk assessment completed by the walk leader. With walks where 6 or fewer people attend there is no legal requirement to complete a delivery plan/risk assessment, but we do recommend you do.

Section 2.10 on the following link provides the clarity required that group walking can continue.


Please note that the rules for LDWA group walking in Scotland have altered as a result of work undertaken by the NEC with Sport Scotland over the last three weeks.  The revised rules, delivery plan and risk assessment have been posted on to the Local Groups toolkit.

Sport Scotland have confirmed they are happy with our approach on how to organise social walks and the new rules are similar to those in England, with the exception of having to nominate a Covid-19 officer (generally the walk leader). We are in the final stages on obtaining formal ratification on return from leave of a key member of staff within Sport Scotland.  

As a result of our consultation, if a walk leader wishes to lead a group walk in Scotland with 16-30 attendees then the LDWA social walk delivery/risk assessment must be completed. With walks where a maximum of 15 people attend from 5 households or fewer attend there is no legal requirement to complete a delivery plan/risk assessment, but we recommend you do.

The risk assessment can be downloaded at:


In Wales the maximum number of people who can gather outside remains at 30. It is therefore legal to continue walking in groups of up to 30. However, the one comment made by First Minister Drakeford on 22.09.20 that is creating great debate in Wales is the statement that unnecessary journeys must not be made. First Minister Drakeford, when questioned at 12.30pm on 23.09.20 during his briefing to the Wales nation was asked about the meaning of what unnecessary journeys were. He advised people:

“Think sensibly and avoid doing things that add risk.”

“It was a common sense piece of advice.”

“He was just asking people to think about journeys they’re making.”

“He stated that the he wanted people to make safe judgements and that the unnecessary travel was not a regulation.”

There is no definition of what constitutes an unnecessary journey, no direction as to the maximum distance that is allowed to be travelled and the law currently allows people to continue making journeys of any distance.

The NEC recognises that walking in the outdoors is very good for people and is beneficial for both physical and mental health wellbeing. In addition walking in the outdoors is a relatively safe sport due to the fact that the LDWA rules require social distancing to be observed. As outlined above, the LDWA will only deal with the legal situation and as it is still legal to make any journey in Wales, group walks can continue with a maximum number of 30 attendees. However, Local Groups and members might wish to consider what travelling distance is appropriate for local walks due to the perception by others on the Local Group activity.

Risk assessments are still not legally required in Wales but are recommended due to the fact that if presented they demonstrate due diligence by the walk leader.


David Morgan, LDWA Chair


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