Post Lockdown Walking - Transitional Programme
Our May to October Walks Programme has been cancelled. Any walking that may be possible this summer/autumn will be significantly changed from our “regular” programme. Members who volunteered to lead normal C and B walks cannot be assumed to have volunteered to lead walks in the current climate.
The recent local lockdown in Greater Leicester is both sad and frustrating for those members directly involved and their friends and family; hopefully it will be short-lived. Overall, relaxations of lockdown continue to be announced. In light of this your Committee has been giving consideration to likely constraints and the nature of informal walks followed, when possible, by a transitional programme to enable some KRG organised walks to re-commence.
Currently the Ramblers Association do not support any walks by groups exceeding six in number. Hopefully this number restriction will be lifted before too long but for now we need to observe it. We must also presume that social distancing measures will remain in place for some time to come. Any walks organised by KRG will need to adhere to official social distancing criteria. Travelling in a car with people from other households will not be considered to be safe (i.e. no lift sharing). Also pubs, even when they open, will not be available to us in the way that they have previously.
Even when (hopefully) the restriction of numbers to just six people is relaxed, large groups are not likely to be acceptable or desirable. For example, large groups negotiating stiles or gateways whilst adhering to social distancing will lead to frustratingly slow walks. Other footpath users will include “shielded” individuals/couples enjoying their daily exercise. For them, negotiating large groups of walkers is potentially disconcerting. Further, observation of what is happening currently suggests that quite often, the larger the group out walking, the poorer the adherence to social distancing.
Although most of our members have been walking for exercise throughout lockdown, in many cases the walks involved have been shorter than our normal “C” and “B” walks. Several members have already indicated that that they will need a gradual return to longer walks.
Short-term Informal Walks
Some members have already seized the opportunity for groups of up to six people to walk together, observing social distancing. In the short term we would like to extend this opportunity to more members. If you currently walk singly, or as a pair and would like to walk in a group of up to six people please let me know. I also need to know what length of walks you wish to be doing at present. Separately if you already walk in a small group and could accommodate one or two additional walkers please let me know how many extra walkers you could welcome to your walks, up to a maximum of six people in the group. Again, the type of walks that you are doing is the additional information that I need. From your replies I will attempt to place more members into groups but please bear with me, as it may not be possible to meet all requests in terms of numbers and distances to be walked.
Please let me know your wishes by e-mail or feel free to telephone me if you wish to ask any questions.
If it becomes possible to increase group sizes, a transitional programme lasting for a couple of months, will incorporate the following features:
Lower numbers on each walk (possibly as few as 10 members per walk)
Pre-booking of places
Co-ordinated booking to ensure equitable access to walks and that all members who wish to walk get the opportunity to join as many walks as possible.
No use of pubs. Long walks will incorporate a packed lunch stop. Shorter walks will, where possible, end with a socially distanced picnic. *(As some pubs may have re-opened, individuals could combine to book a post walk lunch should they wish, but this will not be a KRG activity in the transitional period).
Identification of start points where there is sufficient safe parking and based on the assumption of no car sharing other than by members of the same household.
For the transitional period, a wider range of walks will be on offer:
C minus Walks 3 or 4 miles
C Walks 4 to 6 miles
B minus Walks 7 or 8 miles
B Walks up to 12 miles
(The extent to which the above will be possible will be governed by voluntary leaders coming forward in sufficient numbers)
Implications for Walk Leaders and Walkers
Walk Leaders responsibilities will be:
To plan walks that do not exceed the distance criteria and that, as far as possible, minimise the use of stiles and of paths with restricted passing space
Identify sufficient safe parking
Brief walkers on any sections of the walk where passing space is limited
Being aware that public lavatories and facilities in pubs are not likely to be available.
Individual Walkers need to:
Decide for themselves whether they feel comfortable about walking at present
Comply with any advice from walk leaders in relation to sections of the walk where passing is restricted
Wear a face covering if this becomes a requirement for group activities
Carry their own hand sanitiser or alcohol wipes
Be considerate of other members of the community (especially when parking or when passing other walkers).
Once I have had the opportunity to work through your requests in relation to the Short-term Informal Walks, I will be contacting members again. This will be to seek your preference(s) from the four types of walk envisaged in the Transitional Programme and also to ask for volunteers to lead walks on the transitional programme.
Most of us have had very limited social contacts for four months or so and many of us will have some concerns about meeting in larger groups. In due course we need to know the wishes of members and to provide safe walking opportunities for anyone who feels ready to walk in a larger group.
Walks Programme Organiser