Walking group's top tips for safe and responsible rambling

Walkers are Welcome chair Ken Hawkins and his wife Catherine

Walkers are Welcome chairman Ken Hawkins and his wife Catherine, out for a ramble in the beautiful Norfolk countryside. - Credit: Supplied by Ken Hawkins

With staycations looking set to remain popular as we move into the autumn, a national association of enthusiastic walkers has put together a series of handy hints for ramblers. 

Ken Hawkins, who leads Dereham’s branch of Walkers are Welcome, and is also its national chair, said the group had written the advice “in response to the reports last year, and the expectation this year, of litter being left, gates left open, people walking off the paths and not controlling their dogs”.

Here are the group’s top tips:

  • If you’re arriving by car, try to park in an official parking area - you may have to pay (the money is needed to maintain local facilities), but you can be sure you don’t block other traffic or access by farmers to their land
  • Know where you’re going - a good map is essential to show the paths, but many of those on smartphones won’t show sufficient detail
  • A mobile can be useful - but don’t rely on its map, or that you can always get a signal
  • For all but the shortest walk, take water and food with you - in case you get lost or your planned route is blocked
  • Especially on longer walks, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return
  • Wear suitable clothes - short excursions in well-used areas that have been maintained with visitors in mind are one thing; but if you’re going further, paths can be very muddy, weather can change suddenly (especially if you’re climbing to any height), and you can get lost in unfamiliar places: make sure you have strong footwear, warm clothing and a good waterproof
  • Always leave gates as you find them - open or shut - but do not leave anything else, please bring back everything you took with you. Farm and wild animals may be hurt by your unwanted items - even food.
  • If you have one, keep your dog under close control - do not allow it to chase farm or wild animals, nor to bother other people (and collect your dog poo for disposal in a bin)
  • If you’re out on a road in the evening, wear light clothes so you can be seen.