TAH Update – 6th September 2020

When everything came to a halt in March it was very difficult to envisage how TAH activities would ever be possible while the pandemic existed. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, TAH was able to resume group walking in early August following the easing of lockdown measures and changes to Ramblers guidance.

When the guidance changed in July, members were asked to come forward if they were interested in leading a small group walk. To comply we had to introduce a booking system, limit the number of people attending, carry out walk risk assessments and adhere to social distancing. Following a test walk by committee members, a Zoom was held with the volunteers who had come forward. The process was tweaked following discussion and the limit per walk was set at 6 including Walk Leader which was in accordance with Ramblers guidance at the time. We agreed to keep walks fairly local while people got used to venturing out again. We updated the website FAQs and social media.

Shortly after TAH group walks restarted, the Ramblers guidance, which is aligned to Government guidance for outdoor physical activity, increased the maximum number of people allowed on group walks from 6 to 30. A Walk Leader zoom was held to discuss the change. It was agreed that the TAH limit would remain as 6, to enable Walk Leaders and walkers to see how the new way of doing things worked out, and it would be reviewed in September.

The month of August saw more than twenty group walks led by eight Walk Leaders, with an average of five people attending each walk and more than 50 different individuals in attendance. There were multiple walks on some days to give more people the opportunity to walk. We saw a mix of new walkers, members who hadn’t walked for several years and existing members. For many it was a welcome social interaction after three months of isolation. Social distancing was embraced and the booking system worked well. All very positive and a great outcome given the new approach and all the uncertainties.

Walk Leaders met on Zoom on 1st September to revisit the process and discuss their experiences. It was agreed that the TAH walk group size limit would change, with immediate effect, to a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 including Walk Leader. The Walk Leader will choose the maximum group size (up to 15) for each walk based on their comfort-level, personal and group safety, the route, pinch-points, parking etc. To help walkers know what to expect the number of places will be stated in the walk description.

It has been really heartwarming to be involved with a lovely group of volunteers who have worked together to find ways to overcome the challenges so that TAH can enjoy the outdoors again while keeping volunteers and walkers safe. Thank you to all the people involved so far, whether that be leading walks, publishing walks and managing bookings, updating the website or supporting any of those activities. Thank you to all the walkers who have embraced the new TAH normal (hopefully it is starting to feel normal). We don’t know how long the new normal will be here for but it will continue for the foreseeable and will be adapted if/when circumstances or guidance changes.

Socials are currently not possible unfortunately but we will keep you posted about any changes in that area. Keep your eye out for the AGM which is likely to take place on Zoom in November.

Here’s to more walks and good (socially-distanced) times ahead! As ever, if you fancy leading a walk and you haven’t been in touch since before lockdown, please contact myself or Stephen Noble. TAH is always on the lookout for more Walk Leaders.

And finally, a little reminder – please don’t walk if you or someone in your household has Covid-19 symptoms and if you need to cancel your booking please do so at the earliest opportunity to free up the place for another person (if more than 24 hours before the walk).

Best wishes

Susan Wilkinson
General Secretary/Treasurer
Take A Hike – Ramblers Group
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