Whilst walking is, in general, one of the safest activities you can take part in, it can be dangerous when you start walking in the mountains - especially when the weather is bad. This page contains some mandatory rules that all group members should follow when walking in the mountains (and it is recommended that you follow them when walking elsewhere).
Note: These rules apply to ALL members of the group walking in mountainous areas, not just the walk leaders. From a walk leader perspective, one of the biggest concerns when leading walks in the mountains is having people turn up that lack the levels of fitness needed for the walk, or lack the equipment needed for the walk and weather conditions.
If you are attending a walk in the mountains:
- Ensure that you are fit enough to go on the walk. If you are in doubt, try an easier walk first.
- Ensure that you are wearing clothing appropriate to the conditions. Further, ensure that you have spare clothing that you can use as the conditions change (both worsening and improving) and that it is stored inside a waterproof container (e.g. waterproof rucksack or dry bag).
- Ensure that you have the necessary food, water and equipment with you. For longer or more extreme walks consider bringing a torch, first aid kit and survival bag or shelter.
- Listen to the walk leader and follow their instructions.
- Stay close to the rest of the group - especially when visibility is poor.
If the walk leader does not believe you have the necessary fitness level, clothing or equipment to do the walk, they may refuse to allow you to join them. If this is the case then you must comply - the walk leader's decision is final. However, it is your responsibility to ensure you are properly prepared for and capable of doing the walk.
In addition to the general rules, walk leaders should also:
- Ensure that they know the route and are aware of lower level routes and escape options.
- Ensure that you have one or more group shelters with the group.
- Ensure that you have the walkie-talkies with you if the group is large.
- Ensure that you have a first aid kit with you.
- Ensure that you have a torch and spare batteries (or a wind-up torch) with you.
- Ensure that you check the weather forecast before the walk and adjust the route or cancel the walk if appropriate.
- If you are at the meet point, remember to talk to people before setting off and recommend those people that lack the necessary fitness, clothing or equipment do not attend the walk.
- Ensure that you have read a copy of the group's emergency situation guidance [download] before leading your walk. It is advisable to have a printed copy with you in case of emergency.
Remember: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing."