The Rambler's Find A Walk site that hosts the group's walks supports two grading systems: The Rambler's national grading system and a local grading system. The official definition of the national grading system is available here.
Historically, the group used three grades for walks: easy, medium and hard. When the group started using The Rambler's web hosting for its web site, these were mapped onto easy, moderate and strenuous. The group is currently in the process of aligning itself with the full national grading system; it is also considering having its own local grading system in the future.
The official definition gives an overview of what is expected at each walk grade. The list below gives a more specific definition that should be used for group walks:
- Easy Access:
These walks should involve nominal ascent and be less than 3 miles in length. They should take place on paved or tarmac covered paths, and not exceed 2 miles per hour. They should be suitable for people with prams or in wheelchairs.
These walks should involve less than 1,000 feet of ascent and be less than 6 miles in length. They should take place on good paths or other easy terrain, and not exceed 2 miles per hour.
These walks should involve less than 1,500 feet of ascent and be less than 9 miles in length. They should take place on good paths or other easy terrain, and not exceed 2 miles per hour.
These walks should involve less than 2,000 feet of ascent and be less than 12 miles in length. They may take place on small paths and harder terrain than leisurely walks but the terrain should not be particularly challenging. They should not exceed 2.4 miles per hour.
This grade of walk covers everything harder than a moderate walk that does not require specialist skills or equipment. It encompasses a large range of walks and members are advised to check that they are comfortable with the walk difficulty before attending.
This grade of walk covers anything that requires specialist skills or equipment.
It is unfortunate that the national grading scheme does not include anything harder than strenuous, as there is a significant difference between a 12-mile, 2,500-feet-of-ascent walk performed at 2.2 miles per hour, and a 20-mile, 5,500-feet-of-ascent walk performed at 2.8 miles per hour. It is recommended that any walks that are likely to exceed 16 miles, 3,500 feet of ascent, or 2.6 miles per hour have a local grade of exremely strenuous for now. It is further recommended that such walks carry a warning in their description advising people not to come on them unless they do strenuous walks on a regular basis and are comfortable with them.