I recently offered some free supported walks for people struggling during lockdown – the response was huge. Now for me this is relatively easy – its kinda what I’ve done for a living for over a decade – but a lot of lovely people reached out to ask how they could do the same. Which got me thinking.
Whilst it seems like an immediately nice and easy offer there are some things to consider – so I thought I’d write a short article on some safe simple measures that you can use/consider whichever side of the arrangement you’re on.
1. Manage your expectations
It’s easy to want to set out and have an epic day – but we are currently in a situation where emergency services are stretched to breaking (I’m an NWAS volunteer), so keep it simple, take all the risks out of the day, don’t travel far and stay local. The aim should be a good wander into the wonder, take your time, be safe.
You also don’t know each others capabilities – one persons easy amble is another’s torturous slog!
All of the above should be taken into consideration when you move to #2…
2. Make and agree a plan
Some of the issues above ( & below) can be resolved if you’ve a simple plan.
Things to consider include: where you’ll meet (remember you can’t car share), how far you’ll go, how difficult the terrain is, what footwear you’ll need. What’s the weather forecast (& whatever it is take waterproofs and a warm layer) will you be out long enough to want to take a drink and food?
All of that will help make #3 easier…
3. Be safe together
Agree to meet somewhere public – and let someone know who you’re meeting and where.
Be honest with each other about how you’re feeling and whether or not the plan is too much – this might be the last chance to change it.
Know how long you expect to be out & let someone know you’re back from your walk safely – even better leave a route card if you know how to make one.
4. Personal Responsibility
Have you got everything you need to keep you safe? No matter how good your walking partner is you should make sure you’ve some basics. Think about:
Personal medications, another warm layer, a waterproof coat (or even just an umbrella), a charged phone, a snack and a drink.
Whilst you may or may not be able to read a map – there are some simple free tools should the worst happen and there’s an accident. I’d recommend downloading the OS Locate app – its free and will give you the information emergency services will need to find you.
5. Be Covid Respectful
Many people might well not be able to get out on a walk. Some people might disagree with heading out. Be respectful of local people where you choose to walk – avoid unnecessary contact. I’m arranging walks where we’ll avoid properties and busy ‘honeypot’ areas. When we’re walking through villages we’ll wear masks.
Remember your personal precautions – stay 2m apart and use hand sanitiser if you touch anything that’s not yours.
And also consider what you put onto social media – a thanks is great – but remember many folks might not be as lucky as you.
& one last thing….enjoy yourself!