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When devising a walking route, aim to avoid potential problems for members of our group, bearing in mind their age and varied mobility. Walks should normally keep to no more than 5/6 miles. Try to give an indication of any prolonged climbing involved, and any rough or slippy places, or awkward stiles which might be encountered. With desirable scenic routes it is often difficult to avoid all hazards. Decide what time to meet, and whether walkers should bring a packed lunch, or whether there will be a pub meal.

If stopping for a pub meal, the walk may well need to be shorter, since meals are usually served only 'till 2/2:30.  Meal walks are often popular, so you may need to check with the pub, and warn them of the likely numbers.

Let the group leader, and the walkers intending to come on the walk, know what the walk will be like, and whether it will pose difficulties for some of the group.  Be prepared to warn off walkers, if you feel it may not be suitable for them. Well behaved dogs and children may come with us, but only if you and other walkers are happy with the arrangement, also bearing in mind meal or pub stops.

When meeting at the village hall, make sure walkers are U3A members, are aware of the walking risks document, and are aware of the nature of the walk and any potential hazards.  Give directions for the car drivers to the walk start point.  Take a count of the numbers in the party at the start of the walk..

Keep a reasonable pace, so that slower members are not left behind, and if necessary brief someone with the proposed route, to stay at the rear and make sure there are no unseen problems. Mobile phones would be an excellent way of keeping in contact with the rear marker, and of calling for emergency help if it were needed. But a whistle and compass are always useful to carry, plus some simple first aid supplies if you have any. Be prepared to be flexible, if the weather or ground conditions should deteriorate, and shorten the walk if necessary.  From time to time, take a tally of the numbers and check that there are no walkers with problems.   Report any injury accidents to the group leader, with details.

Walter Mason    December 2007