Walking and Hillwalking

Whilst being a valid and valuable activity in its own right, walking forms the basis of many other adventurous activities, such as gorge walking, climbing, trail cycling and the Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes. Further reference may be made to the chapters on these activities.

Effective leadership is based upon appropriate personal experience of the activity, overlaid by training in the additional skills and knowledge required to lead others.

Consideration should be given to:

  • the nature of the terrain
  • the prevailing conditions
  • the needs of the group.

Experience and training must relate to the nature of the terrain used and this document distinguishes between ‘Low Level’, ‘Low Hills’, and ‘High Hills’.

Distinction is also made between summer and winter. Summer conditions are defined as those where there is no snow or ice underfoot or forecast.

Low Levels Activities: Up to 300M Approx.

A considerable range of educational activity on foot takes place out of doors at Low Level, much of which is more appropriately considered as “off-site” activity rather than hill walking.
Whilst Low Level walking is generally considered to be a low risk activity there may be features or terrain encountered which prove to be hazardous e.g. beaches, cliffs, ruined buildings, eroded paths, river banks etc., and leaders must be familiar with such hazards and evaluate the risks associated with them. (See page 15 ‘Risk Assessment’.)

Walking at Low Level can take place throughout the year, however careful thought should be given to Winter walking at this level.

Whilst no formal training is required to enable leaders to operate at low level, the terrain may require navigation and group management skills that would benefit from prior training. The council’s in-house Leadership on Low Level Terrain course is considered appropriate training in this context.

Hillwalking on Low Hills: 300 - 600M Approx.

Most walking on ‘Low Hills’ (300 - 600 metres approx.) is reasonably straightforward in summer conditions. However, hills of this height can still be hazardous and challenging at times, and require appropriate skills and leadership. Careful consideration needs to be given to the nature and remoteness of the terrain.

Staff leading parties on Low Hills, whilst not requiring a qualifying National Governing Body award must nevertheless be suitably trained. Aberdeenshire Council’s in-house Lowhills Training Scheme is appropriate training and is valid for 5 years.

The Walking Group Leader Award is also appropriate at this level - please refer to the Qualifying Awards section on page 34

Where the level of a planned walk is not clear, further advice should be sought from the Adventurous Activities Consultant.

Walking on High Hills: Over 600M Approx.

Parties on High Hills must always be supervised by the holder of an appropriate National Governing Body qualifying award – please refer to the following section on qualifying awards.

Recommended Reading

Hill walking                                        Steve Long (official handbook for the ML and WGL schemes)
Mountain Craft & Leadership         Eric Langmuir 
Safety on Mountains                        British Mountaineering Council
Mountain Navigation                        Peter Cliff
Expedition Guide                              W.J. Keay (official handbook for D of E & BELA
National Guidelines                        UK Mountain Training Board