Join the Ramblers and become a member of MAD Walkers

Walk Leader Guidance

Firstly, thank you for considering leading a MAD Walk. Without leaders, we'd be going nowhere!

To submit a walk, please consider the guidance below and then when you're ready,
please complete this form to submit a walk.

If you have any questions or need any further advice, please feel free to email the walks coordinator. The Ramblers' Association also have this useful guidance.

MAD Walkers also run regular Walk Leader Training Walks where can learn about leading walks and practise your skills - see the Walks Page for more information, or email the walks coordinator.


  • Thorough preparation - head out there and reccie your route, considering at all times how suitable your route would be for a potentially large group of people. We advise doing a reccie, but it may not be necessary if you have walked the route before or know the area very well. Feel free to ask an established walk leader to join you on your reccie.

  • Once you've decided on your route, we now prefer to receive walks via the walk submission Form. It is possible to reserve a date by ticking the 'provide details later' box. If absolutely necessary, you can email the walks coordinator, but please provide the same level of information. If possible, avoid 'to be confirmed' so our members can plan whether to come on a walk with as much information as possible.

  • Is the walk is public transport accessible - if so could it be a public transport walk?

  • Think about ratings - length and difficulty. You should be aware of the correct classification of your walks prior to submission.

  • Once in the printed walks programme, only alter arrangements in extremis

  • On your route, please try and avoid long stretches of road walking - in particular A or B roads


  • Weather - watch the forecast from about 3 days beforehand, especially if the walk is at a high level. The Mountain Weather Information Service is particularly useful for high level walks in the Pennines, Snowdonia, Lakes etc.

  • Decide whether to lead from front, middle or back. Whichever method you choose, communication is key to ensuring the whole group has a good day. Keep in touch with your back marker or helpers, if you choose to have them. Regularly regroup and remember a break starts when the last member of your walk arrives at the rest stop.

  • If you need a map or radios then we may be able to lend them to you. Take a look at this inventory spreadsheet to see what is available.


  • Final decision of walk route BASED ON WEATHER FORECAST. It's worth having bad weather or slower than expected group back up routes, or the option to shorten the route rather than rushing people around a route too quickly.

  • Get to meeting point early to offer assistance

  • If you're leading a car-based walk, make sure everyone who needs a lift has one. Check all the drivers know where the car park is and how to get there. It's worth minimising the number of cars to avoid overloading car parks and to be fuel efficient.


  • Introduce yourself and summarise the plan for the day - welcome all, walk route, distance, breaks, pubs, pace, toilets

  • Remind any new members to approach you with any questions

  • Check everyone seems competent and has suitable footwear, clothing and gear. If you're not sure, ask and in extreme circumstances, you can refuse to allow people on the walk.

  • It is worth appointing someone to stay at the opposite end of the group, typically a backmarker. Decide whether you wish to always keep the backmarker in sight, or let them go out of earshot. In either case, it's up to you to keep in touch with your backmarker. Short range radios are available for this purpose. Please email the walks coordinator at least a week in advance to arrange borrowing this equipment.

  • Do a headcount (can be done by backmarker)

  • Children and dogs: we welcome accompanied children and dogs on our walks at the walk leaders discretion. Walkers must be 18+ or accompanied by an adult holding parental responsibility. Our volunteers do not have the necessary training, expertise or qualifications to supervise unaccompanied walkers under the age of 18. All dogs must be accompanied by their owner, who is responsible for their care at all times. Any issues on the walk should be brought to the walk leader's attention as soon as possible.


  • Check headcount (or is backmarker visible?). Styles & gates are useful with large groups.

  • Chat to as many people as possible - remember, many new people probably want to talk to you and will have lots of questions!

  • Check in with your backmarker at rest stops - ask them if they've noticed any problems.

  • Think about pauses, regroups, rest stops and meal breaks. Remember a rest stop only begins when the last person arrives.

  • Pay special attention to newcomers and check with people directly if they look like they're struggling. General questions to the group don't often elicit responses if people are struggling.

  • Watch pace and check timing. It is better to move at the pace of the slowest person than to continually stop start.

  • Help at obstructions and difficult stiles

  • Handle the group closely on road sections. Always use pavements if available, always taking the group along the safest possible route, even if it is longer.

  • If you're leading a walk, you might find yourself walking faster than usual - it's a pressure thing! Remember to slow down.

  • Oops, lots of walkers turned up! This does happen from time to time. If you get unexpectedly high numbers, remember

    • a big walk talks longer, especially at choke points such as styles.
    • it's easy for the walk to get stretched out.
    • it is worth considering splitting the walk (if you have people available who are happy to lead the split groups)


  • Getting lost, hazards and blocked paths, deteriorating weather, accidents and illness, people forcing the pace, managing the group/drawing on group expertise/keeping people informed


  • Thanks

  • Details of upcoming events

  • Ensure newcomers get some publicity material or referred to the website

Insurance for leading walks:

  • The Area and Group Insurance Guide, including incident report forms, is available through the Ramblers Walk Leader pages

  • Those who lead for different groups may wish to consider BMC membership which provides civil liability cover for not-for-profit leaders who guide walks

Thank you for leading a MAD Walk!!! Without walk leaders, we'd be going nowhere...

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