Leader Guidelines

Role of Walk Leaders

  • To Plan, navigate & lead the route;
  • Evaluate and make decisions about the journey and the group.
  • Assist the walkers to have an enjoyable day out on the hills.
  • Mentor novice leaders before, during and after the walk.


First Aid Courses and Mountain Skills courses can be arranged for leaders, let Regina McNulty (reginabmcnulty@yahoo.co.uk) know if you’d like to attend.

It is desirable that leaders have a first aid kit and storm shelter. The club are happy to subsidise the purchase of first aid kits (€20 subsidy) and storm shelters, please contact the club treasurer for more details.


  1. Keep navigation and first aid skills up to date
  1. Leaders are encouraged to complete Mountain Skills 1 and Mountain Skills 2
  2. A Leader should only lead a walk that is within their fitness level.
  3. A Leader may extend or curtail a walk as they see fit however they should aim to return to the start point / cars before darkness.

Walk Preparation:

  1. Recci the route before the walk if possible, and include escape routes if possible
  2. Ensure you have the proper clothing and equipment – See Walkers Equipment List and the  Leader Equipment List
  3. If possible, have 1 first aid kit and storm shelter per every 7 walkers in the group, which can be shared out amongst the group to carry for the walk.
  4. The Leader should be up-to-date with the weather forecast on the day of the walk – the following websites could be used

 In the car park, before the walk:

  1. Ensure new members are spoken to and gear is checked.
  2. Boots are a requirement for hill walks
  3. Membership form must be completed and signed and subscription/visitor fee paid before a new member can partake in a walk.
  4. Ensure sign in sheet is completed.
  5. Organise car-pooling ensuring drivers know destination.
  6. Remind car poolers of petrol contribution: €5
  7. If there is a large group of walkers the leader can e.g.
    1. Ask 1 or 2 walkers to assist with the walk
    2. Divide the walk into 2 walks if there is another Leader available on the day; or
    3. Change the route
  8. There may also be situations whereby the Leader may propose to a walker(s) they undertake an easier walk if the Leader, in his/her experience with the route and with the walker(s), deems that it may jeopardise the safety of the group as a whole.

Start of Walk

  1. The Leader should appoint a sweeper at the start of the walk and ensure the sweeper has a whistle and a walkie talkie
  2. The leader and sweeper should wear high vis vests/gear e.g. reflective bag cover
  3. The Leader should count (or ask someone to count) the number of walkers in the group and check this number against the number of people who signed the book
  4. The leader should deliver a short briefing before setting off, to include
  • Introduction of leader(s)
  • Identify the sweeper to the group
  • Route description, expected duration etc
  • Responsibility of each walker for own safety and to keep an eye on person behind them.
  • Inform walkers that they must tell the Leader (or the sweeper who then must inform the Leader) if they wish to make a stop.
  • Remind walkers of leave no trace policy

During the Walk

  1. It is up to the Leader (not the sweeper) to ensure that the distance between him/herself and the end of the group does not become too great.
  2. The Leader should endeavor to set a pace that is reasonable for the walk level.
  3. The Leader should stay/lead from where they feel they are most needed on the walk
  4. The leader should stay within eye contact of the sweeper during the walk
  5. Early in the walk, the leader can advise a walker to return to the cars in the event the leader feels they are unable for the walk.
  6. The leader should not walk on past a junction without checking with the sweeper that walkers are aware of the walk direction at the junction
  7. A walker leaving the group should inform the Leader of the walk. The Leader should advise the walker that they are no longer considered part of the group and also request they make contact with the Leader when they return to the walk start or the pub (i.e. confirming safe arrival) An exchange of mobile phone numbers between the walker and the Leader is strongly advised.
  8. When a Leader has a walker(s) in their group who is/are unreasonably slow and the Leader deems is/are jeopardising the safety of the group or the enjoyment of the walk, the leader can e.g.:
    • Shorten the walk;
    • Elect to send the slow walker(s) back to the walk start/ cars accompanied by one or more persons;  or
    • Divide the walk into 2 walks, if a second Leader is available.
  9. Let walkers know if they are approaching e.g. steep ground/difficult terrain etc.

After the Walk

  1. Ensure everyone has returned to cars safe and well;
  2. Feedback to newcomers re. next suitable walk level;
  3. Advice to newcomers if deemed necessary re. upgrading gear prior to next walk;
  4. Suggest a venue for refreshments on route home;
  5. If there were any incidents/accidents during the walk try to arrange a group debrief while the group are still together on walk out or at cars.
  6. If there has been an accident, after the walk, you need to notify the club committee (who will contact Mountaineering Ireland) and complete the Incident Report Form 

Other Guidelines


  1. Leaders may wish to keep stops, including the lunch break, short if conditions are cold and/or wet.
  2. Leaders should keep the group together by stopping more frequently in conditions of poor visibility, high winds, difficult terrain, etc.  A Leader may change the route if necessary.  The Leader may also elect to end the walk entirely and return the group back to the walk start/ car park.
  3. Leaders should monitor any deterioration in weather conditions during the walks or any changes in walking conditions which may come about with an increase in altitude.  Some key points to consider include:
  • Temperature drops by 1 degree Celsius for every 150 metres of ascent.
  • Factors affecting temperature may also include: slope aspect (e.g. North/South facing), wind speed, time of day, cloud cover (or lack of cloud cover).
  • It is suggested that the “rule of thumb” used is if the snow is too hard to kick in toe holds, then Leaders should seek, to the extent possible, bringing the group down to a lower altitude.



  1. Mountain Rescue telephone is 112. Leaders should note that in an emergency a Text Message/SMS may get through where when a phone call won’t.
  2. Whistle: 6 blasts per minute in rapid succession indicates distress, 3 per minute to respond.


  1. Leaders must inform the committee of any serious incident that occurs on a Club walk.
    • “Minor Injury”: Where a minor injury occurs and a walker is unable to continue the planned walk route but is able to return to the walk start/cars then the Leader should appoint someone to return with them.  The Leader should ensure the walkers returning to the car park are equipped with a map (and knows how to use it) and then continue with the walk as planned. The Leader should also inform the Walks Coordinator of such an occurrence.
    • “Major Injury”: Where a serious injury occurs whereby a walker is unable to continue the Leader should first decide whether it is prudent to continue with the walk.  The Leader may elect to appoint another “Leader” to continue with the walk or to return to the walk start / cars with the main body of walkers and remain behind with suitably equipped volunteers.
    • “Major Injury”: A Leader should deal with the injury as they see fit e.g. call-out Mt Rescue (Telephone: 112). Remember: the whole group is at risk when you are stopped for a lengthy period of time due to an injury to a walker. The Leader must also inform the Walks Coordinator of such an occurrence.