Walking in Groups
Group Walking - What is it like?
I am often asked questions in respect of walking in groups. Is it hard, fast, am I fit enough, will I have time to take a picture, catch my breath, grab a coffee break, am I too old or to young and so on?
Of course group walking is different than walking alone or with a partner as it is the walking group leader who having taking into consideration all members of the group will dictate pace and the number and length of stops. It is inevitable that from time to time, individuals will find they have to adjust their walking style. It is our aim that any individual adjustment to style and pace will be minor but it is very important to understand that those who join a walking group must always be prepared to adjust style including pace for the enjoyment, comfort and safety of all.
In other words, please respect the objectives of our volunteer leaders and recognise your individual commitment to the principle of "group enjoyment". This is especially important in a group such as ours where leaders may be in short supply and occasionally groups will be larger with more mixed levels than ideal. Our voluntary leaders must always operate on the principle of "equals" and thus as you will appreciate "leadership" is a dynamic and tricky balancing act.
However remember the bargain price tag and allow leaders to lead, for example, avoid splitting groups by going on too far ahead without frequent stops or creating walking chains 20 minutes or more long.
I use the word level quite deliberately, as group walking is not a competitive activity or one where we segregate participants into fast or slow groups. That is misleading as many factors need to be considered including general stamina, fitness on the day, experience, activities you participated on the previous day, terrain and very important weather conditions. It is also very important to take into account what, as individuals, you want to achieve on a particular day, for example do you wish to take as many photographs as you can, enjoy the views and just quietly enjoy all the wonders of nature or do you want those extra miles or that additional five hundred metres of height gain or an adrenalin rushing session due to an exposed position or fast pace.
Please, please remember the complexity of the above equation, and don't just think fast or slow, if you do start segregating yourselves on such a basis you will undoubtedly miss out on the full enjoyment of group walking by finding yourselves from time to time to be in the wrong group. I can assure you it is very pleasant moving between groups in accordance with the nature of the walks and your very own needs on the day.
If we all follow the above principles, what do you gain?
Firstly much personal enjoyment, greater comfort and increased safety levels for one and all. But much more, including great social experiences and challenging walking that will hopefully move your comfort zones slightly upwards. Above all opportunity, exploring new geographic areas and indeed at times, at a personal level, achieving what you thought to be the impossible.
Group walking involves deploying your sense of humour which is a truly wondrous tool that in a group can carry you on for miles, commitment, booking the dates in your diary and actually participating, going outdoors regardless of the weather and really improving your fitness and general well being.
Happy group walking