For any new walk leaders our there, Autumn’s edition of Walk magazine* included a helpful article on “Taking the lead”**. Whilst this is well worth a read, we on the BW committee decided to ask our own walk leaders what their top tips were for leading your first walk!
SAM: Do your recce with a recce buddy who will be there when you lead the walk for real. It’s good to have a familiar face and someone else who’s familiar with the route.
SAM: And don’t recce and then lead the walk in different seasons! Change in vegetation makes routes look very different! Speaking from experience of my first walk here – which I recced in February and then led in May. There was no vegetation during the recce, but lots on the actual walk.
JEN H.: I did that with a group of friends, and Swinley Forest had chopped a load of trees down and this completely threw me! I would also recommend doing the reccie as close as possible to the day you’ll be leading the walk.
ZAK: Don’t be afraid of taking a wrong turn and having to backtrack or improvise. Even the most experienced walk leaders do this sometimes – they just get better at covering it up!
ZAK: If you’re relying on your phone for map/navigation, have a backup plan e.g. an extra battery pack, a copy of the route shared with someone you know on the walk, or an actual paper map to fall back on.
JEN H.: Expect the unexpected – on my Castle Bottom walk I wasn’t really expecting flooded paths – but thankfully on that occasion I knew the area and knew of alternative routes.
JASON: You don’t always need to lead from the front. You can lead from the front, middle and back. You just need to give clear instructions if you want the group to go in a certain direction. Most of the time the group will stop when they don’t know which way to go.
JEN H.: My tip would be to simply enjoy it, as a new walk leader myself you can get bogged down with worrying about everyone (are they keeping up etc…) or maybe that’s me!
If you’re interested in leading a walk, please get in touch with our walks coordinator Sam by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
*Maybe you also spotted our very own BW Social Secretary Sophie & myself giving our views on volunteering on the committee in “A sense of purpose”, pages 28-30?