Walk Leader Information



  1. How to choose a suitable day walk for a potential group of walkers
  2. Planning the actual route
  3. Planning a pre walk
  4. Grading a walk
  5. The walk leader
  6. Risk management
  7. Safety
  8. On the day of the walk
  9. At the start of the walk
  10. Duties of the Whip
  11. During the walk
  12. At the completion of the walk
  13. Incident/Accident
  14. Critical incident management
  15. Common incidents
  16. Death on a walk

How to choose a suitable day walk for a potential group of walkers:                top
1. Choose the type of group your walk is aimed at:
* fit and experienced adult walkers
* medium level walkers

2. Choose the focus or type of area for your walk:
* an area that you are familiar with
* suburbia, forest, coastal
* may include items of special interest

3. Choose the walking environment:
* the length of the walk, elevation changes, walking surfaces, amenities
* consider the level of risk
* can it be changed in case of weather conditions
* what walk grading
* number of walkers

4. Choose the actual walk and source information from:
* the clubs library
* previous walk notes
* books of walks
* other club members
* the where2walk website
* the internet
* maps


Planning the actual route:                top
* if you are using previous walk notes or details of walk from a book most of the work is done
* measure distances point to point
* estimate walk times – 3-4km on a smooth flat track, 1-2 hours in rough terrain
* look for escape routes and shelters in case of emergency
* will the park be closed in total fire ban
* look at tide tables if walking on the beach
* is permission needed to cross private property
* will a permit be needed to access area


Planning a pre walk:                top

A complete pre walk should be done before the actual walk date. Before you go:
* organise an experienced companion or mentor to walk with you
* set a time and date
* prepare equipment needed – maps, mobile, pens, paper pedometer, GPS
* contact DEPI for controlled burns, road closures, total fire ban
* check the weather forecast
* advise a contact of your intentions
* for insurance reasons notify the walks co-ordinator in writing

On the pre walk:

* look for possible shelters in case of emergency
* look for points of interest
* morning tea and lunch spots
* identify and mark tracks on your map
* make notes to assist you
* continually assess the your location
* consult with co walkers
* identify possible hazards
* check for mobile phone reception
* time and measure sections of walk
* car parking availability
* simplest travel route to starting point
* locate a café if desired
* notify the contact person on return

After the pre walk:

* evaluate the walk and consider possible variations
* mark your map
* write detailed walk notes
* grade the walk according to the clubs ratings


Grading a walk:                top

The grade of the walk will indicate the suitability for potential walkers. You will need to know:
* total distance
* expected time to complete the route
* elevation changes
* track surface


The walk leader:                top

If a walk leader finds they are unable to attend an activity, they must make arrangements with another responsible participant to act as a leader. This must be verbal consent of the other person, and this person must be provided with all maps and information to safely carry out the activity.

If there is no other possible leader, then the activity must be cancelled and direct contact must be made with all participants to inform them of this prior to the date of activity.

If a leader is unable to continue as leader during the activity, then a responsible member will be nominated ( with their consent) to take over full responsibilities for the rest of the activity.


Risk management:                top

Risk management may be regarded as common sense, but it does require detailed consideration. It provides a logical process of analysis of risks associated with leading a walk.

Risk management is about being aware of what can happen when you lead a walk, and taking steps to limit the possibility of injury or loss. Risks continually change due to variable weather, or unplanned track closures. You need to be aware that the perception of the risk varies between individuals. The majority of risks are handled with common sense, experience and require no formalised process.

Low risk can be addressed with some simple precautionary measures such as:
* advisory notes
* verbal reminders
* checklists
* simple training

Higher risks might require more definite actions such as:
* compulsory gear checks before a trip
* a required training qualification or proven competency
* a certain level of fitness

When you access the risk and decide that the risk is too high:
* plan something less ambitious
* plan another walk
* alter the walk
* shorten the walk
* cancel the walk


Safety:                top

As a walk leader you need to consider the following as your duty of care:
* plan thoroughly
* ask for advice
* check the walk is within everyone’s capability (including your own)
* communicate details with the participants
* check everyone’s health and fitness
* specify required clothing and equipment
* ensure a first aid kit is carried
* know how to deal with an emergency situation
* keep accurate records if an incident occurs
* check weather conditions
* ensure you have access to communications if needed

NOTE – The walk leader has discretion to set a maximum number of walkers, or refuse anyone they think is not capable of doing the planned walk. The leader’s decision in FINAL.


On the day of the walk:                top

* conduct a risk assessment to determine if the planned walk needs to be modified due to conditions e.g. heat, rain and slippery tracks. Be prepared to change/shorten the walk
* arrive early to meet and mark participants off the sign up/consent form
* check all walkers have the required equipment and supplies
* consider carrying a spare water bottle and rain jacket in your car to lend to someone who has forgotten his or hers
* arrange car pooling
* check that all cars are parked safely and have been locked


At the start of the walk:                top

* have all walkers sign on and visitors pay the required amount for insurance
* it is advisable that you carry the sign up/consent sheet on you during the activity in case you need to refer to it
* gather everyone together – make a circle
* introduce yourself and then everyone else
* welcome visitors and new members
* outline the walk and points of interest
* remind members and inform visitors of standard procedures
– stopping at any track intersection
– keeping together as a group
– notification of a toilet stop
– what to do with rubbish
* assign a Whip and discuss their role
* ensure you have a mobile phone


Duties of the Whip:                top

The Whip is an important role and should be given to an experienced, strong walker.
* slows down the leader if needs be
* calls for regroup/consolidation
* checks/confers with leader
*knows how many walkers are in the group and counts the number after leaving after any break
* helps and encourages strugglers
* recognises fatigue in walkers
* waits with laggards
* calls a halt if needs be
* supports the leader in emergencies
* stays at the back
* waits for walkers who go off track/toilet stop


During the walk:                top

* lead walkers
* set a consistent pace that is suitable to the grade
* stop/pause at all track intersections to regroup or have a drink break
* make use of interesting features for drink stops
* increase drink stops on hot days
* allow slower walkers to rest after catching up to the front of the group
* regulate the group’s speed keeping the group together
* keep in contact with the whip
* check the condition of walkers, especially visitors
* ensure morning tea and lunch breaks are of adequate time so walkers are refreshed and rested
* give people 5 minutes warning before departing
* if faced with difficulties, discuss the situation with other experienced members


At the completion of the walk:                top

* reform as a group to ensure everyone has arrived safely
* check conditions of walkers, especially visitors
* record detail of any incidents/accidents and witnesses
* thank the whip, and all other walkers for attending
* advise where afternoon tea will be and provide directions


Incident/Accident:                top

If an accident or incident occurred during the walk which may result in medical assistance and possible insurance claims contact the clubs designated person as soon as possible. A walk is deemed to commence from the meeting point and finish at the designated finish point. Print and complete the relevant paper work and return to the clubs designated person.


Critical incident management:                top

Before the walk you should establish
* any qualified first aiders
* any walkers with a medical condition e.g. diabetes, asthma, allergic reactions necessitating epipen
* carrying a mobile phone
* GPS/PLB if required
* local police contact number


Common incidents:                top

The Bushwalking Victoria booklet Walksafe has excellent strategies for dealing with most common incidents. These include – blisters, bites, snake bite, stings, strains, sprains, cramps, minor burns, extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme weather.

Major accident/incident:

The leader has to manage the situation until the emergency services arrive.
* delegate tasks
* provide first aid
* contact emergency services
* document times

Contacting emergency services depends on mobile phone coverage. Have your exact location details ready. If it is necessary to walk out to make contact a small group should go carrying the written location details.


Death on a walk:                top

* cover the body to protect it from the elements and animals
* record accurate information about the incident
* liaise with emergency personnel
* if the media arrives before the police only give basic facts, avoid any speculation

* notify the next of kin – the police will do this
* use social media to inform others
* move the body unless it is essential and is safe to do so
* admit liability, negligence or culpability.
* tell the media where the body is

After the incident:

* the club president will deal with any ongoing media attention and liaise with the next of kin so their privacy and wishes are respected
* the leader should provide accurate information to the club president on return home
* an incident report is to be completed
* the club president can arrange debriefing/counselling for those on the walk