This page outlines general advice for new members and for those new to planning and leading walks. It may also be useful as a reminder to ‘old hands’.
IF YOU ARE NEW TO POLEGATE RAMBLERS OR TO WALKING WITH GROUPS –
Most of our walks are within 30 minutes drive of Polegate; they can be further away but that would be unusual.
HOW LONG ?
The Leisurely walks are generally not more than 2-3 miles long and avoid lengthy gradients and steep hills. Walkers make their own way to the start of the walk.
Short walks are between 4½-6 miles and take 2 -2½ hours (plus the ‘break’ time), finishing a little after midday. The terrain can be very flat – the Pevensey Levels for example – or quite challenging – Seaford Head comes to mind here.
Long walks are typically around 8-10 miles and include a lunch stop. They often start further afield than the Short walks and usually finish mid-afternoon.
For both Short and Long walks it is usual to meet at Polegate Recreation Ground, Wannock Road so that those without cars can get a lift. Please share cars as much as possible as parking space at the beginning of a walk is often limited. Cars may be left at the recreation ground which is as safe a place as any.
We leave very promptly at 09:30 – get there at 09:31 and you’ll probably find the car park deserted! We like to keep up a reasonable pace on these walks – not too fast and not too slow but enough to make it good exercise.
WHAT TO WEAR ?
Comfort is all-important. It’s usually better to have a few layers than, say, just one very warm jacket. This allows you to make small adjustments in warmth rather than have to choose between over-heating and getting chilled.
This might be tempting fate – but we don’t often get rained on. Nevertheless everyone wears or carries a waterproof jacket (and maybe trousers as well).
Sturdy footwear – well-soled and comfortable shoes or walking boots – are a necessity especially in the winter months when path and field conditions can be very wet and muddy. The description of the walk in the programme may indicate the likelihood of mud – there’s usually a patch somewhere! Only use Wellingtons if you are confident that they will be comfortable for the distance you are walking. Many of our members use walking poles.
WHAT TO CARRY ?
It is usual to carry a small backpack, often called a day-sac, large enough to carry your coffee flask and/or bottle of water, snack, hat, gloves and, very importantly, something to place on damp grass before you sit down. If you possess a whistle then have it with you – it can be useful if you need to attract attention.
OBSTACLES ALONG THE ROUTE ?
The number of stiles on Short and Long walks is usually given in the programme. Some stiles are easy while others can present difficulties. Those less agile can always be assured of help from others but if these could give you difficulties then please telephone the leader before the walk to discuss the problem.
Most walks will pass through fields with sheep – which is why we don’t have dogs on any walks – and quite often there will be cattle and horses.
WEATHER CONDITIONS ?
Weather or path conditions, especially in winter, can cause a walk to be cancelled at the last minute. If in doubt, check the website first and, if you don’t find any last-minute updates, phone the walk leader to check if it’s still taking place. At the very least, somebody will be at the Recreation Ground to give information.
Stay behind the leader. Walk in single file across standing crops, ploughed fields and private gardens. Leave all gates as they are found – the leader should signal this to those following. If you have to climb over a gate, always do it at the hinged end. On roads without pavements, it is usually safer to walk in single file on the righthand side – facing oncoming traffic.
Remember to bring plastic bags to cover muddy boots or, alternatively, remove them at the door of any hostelry and when accepting a lift.
All ramblers are responsible for their own safety and fitness to undertake a walk.
At the end of the walk, don’t forget to thank the leader.
<h4>IF YOU ARE THINKING OF LEADING A WALK THEN THESE ARE SOME OF THE MAIN POINTS TO CONSIDER -</h4>
The route can be taken from a book of walks or planned using a map. The club’s collection of publications and maps could be useful here. The new OS (Explorer) 1:25000 maps, which show all the rights of way, are ideal. These maps make it easy to check that the proposed and actual distances walked are the same! Be aware that some paths on the map may not be visible on the ground – and actual paths may not be on the map. Try to include a variety of scenery and points of interest e.g. churches, country houses, or take advantage of the season – snowdrops and bluebells for example.
The form needed for including a walk in the Programme can be downloaded from the <a href=”http://www.polegateramblers.org.uk/downloads.html” target=”_blank”>DOWNLOADS</a> section of the website – you may find this useful when you start planning and ‘walking out’ the route.
There will need to be adequate parking at the start of the walk and you may need to ask permission if using village halls, pub car parks etc. If there is a charge for parking, make a note of it for the programme.
A walk may be planned and walked out months in advance so try to walk it out again beforehand to check for any problems. Nettles and crops can grow quickly in the summer and bridleways can become very wet in winter.
Count the number of stiles and note other obstacles – this information needs to go in the programme. You can get a good estimate of the number of stiles from the East Sussex CC Rights of Way map which you will find here – <a href=”https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/leisureandtourism/countryside/rightsofway/map/map.aspx” target=”_blank”> Rights of Way Map</a>
When checking out your walk look for suitable locations for morning and afternoon breaks. Choose somewhere with public lavatories or which can offer suitable cover for loo stops!
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
Is there a café or pub for the lunch-time stop? Are there any facilities we could use in bad weather eg. bus shelters, church porches, etc? Are there any points along the route which would allow someone – or the whole group – to cut the walk short?
Members may phone you a day or so before, or on the morning of the walk, to ask for details of parking etc. if this information is not given in the programme.
If there are any changes to the published walk details, it is essential that you email or telephone the Membership Secretary or Club Secretary (phone numbers in the Walks Programme) so that we can email the members and update the website.
Experienced leaders are very willing to assist newer members in planning their first walk. Members are not normally asked to lead a walk until they have been a member for about a year.
<h4>ON THE DAY</h4>
What’s the weather forecast like? If you need to cancel for any reason, let us know so that this can be emailed to members and put on the website.
At Wannock Road, the car drivers will need clear instructions on how to get to the start of the walk. It is often useful to have written instructions – have this available for drivers to copy or provide 8 – 10 copies.
WHAT EQUIPMENT IS NEEDED?
* A map covering the whole walk, and any notes/books of walks.
* A first-aid kit – for minor scratches and grazes, etc.
* A mobile phone can be useful – BUT they don’t work everywhere and they’re less useful if you haven’t exchanged phone numbers with others on the walk.
AT THE START OF THE WALK –
Gather people together, check that everyone has arrived and do a head count. Ask if there are any walkers new to Polegate Ramblers – you might want to keep an eye out for them. Give brief details of the walk, the place for the ‘coffee break’ and suitable loo stops if there are any and an estimated time of return. <ul>
Ask walkers to keep a look out for those behind them, particularly at turnings off the path, and to let you know if anyone is delayed.</ul>
DURING THE WALK –
YOU control the speed of the walk. Try not to let the group get too strung out. If it does, stop to allow walkers at the back to catch up, but bear in mind that the back markers may need a couple of minutes rest too, so don’t set off again the moment they have caught up. It is particularly important to wait at junctions until those following you are in view and know the direction to take before proceeding.
At coffee/tea stops – Give people some idea of how long the stop will be, 10-15 minutes usually. A 2-minute warning of departure is a good idea. Count heads before setting off – is anyone still in the bushes?
If you use a facility, such as a pub or cafe, it is a nice gesture to thank the landlord or manager on behalf of the group.
AT PLACES OF INTEREST –
Allow a few minutes to look around churches etc. By all means do some research before the walk and point out interesting details but avoid a long lecture!.