Participation in any walk is at the discretion of the walks leader on the day.
Number One Rule while out walking with us You Do Not Pass The Leader or appointed front person for any reason while out on a walk with our club unless specifically told to do so. If you don’t heed this rule or any instructions given by our leaders you will be asked to leave the group on the day and will be referred to our committee where you may be asked not to walk with us again.
If you don’t have these the Leader may well refuse you to go out with us:
• Registration before walking
• Minimum fitness level ( any committee member will advise you of whether they think you are fit enough for C group or not )
• Proper waterproof walking boots with deep tread (no runners or fell /walking shoes)
• Waterproof raincoat and appropriate cold weather clothing ( no cotton or jeans) layers are best
• Water, lunch
• Hat and gloves (warm and waterproof )
These are not necessities but things you may like to consider:
• Walking Poles/stick
• Map/compass – our leaders will be happy to show you the basics !
• Survival/bivy bag
• Waterproof over trousers/leggings
• First Aid Kit
We operate a front man/ back man system on every walk and in every walk group. – This will be rigidly enforced. If people consistently refuse to follow this basic rule or ignore any leader’s directions especially where safety is an issue they will not be walking with the club. The Leader sets the pace and determines direction at all times.
Ground rules for hill walkers
• The first rules – take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. We adhere to “Leave No Trace Principles”
• No dogs, for several reasons. Dogs wander off and people can be put in danger chasing them. A lot of our walks are on commonage sheep pasture and even their scent on the trail can excite dogs and make them want to investigate the sheep. But the main reason is this – if we get a name for bringing dogs onto the mountains, even on leashes, we will have a hard time negotiating access over fields.
• Almost every walk involves a degree of trespass because rambling rights are extremely limited in the north and non-existent in the south. When it comes to mountain commonage we intend to insist on our right to walk, but many mountains are owned outright, and we usually have to cross fields to get to them. If we are forbidden to walk across ground by the owner we will respect it without argument.
• Where possible avoid fields with animals, including sheep during the lambing season. Places where bulls are grazing out will be identified on scouting runs by the leaders. We need to know where there are deer because during the rut stags are more dangerous than bulls.
• Open gates where possible – and close them of course, tying them at least as well as you found them. If the gate has to be climbed, it should be one at a time and strictly at the hinge end.
• Never stand on fence wire. Wire should be crossed at a single point only, designated by the walk leader. Two people should hold and brace the fence post while people cross one at a time.
• If you knock a stone off a ditch, put it back even if the ditch is a mess.
• Our mountains are not inherently dangerous; the main danger is presented by the extreme changeability of our weather where all four seasons can be experienced within a couple of hours and at any time of the year.
• The leader does not have to go first, in fact most good leaders spend a lot of time in the middle of the group encouraging and advising. Good practice is for the leader to nominate a front person and rear person and secure their firm agreement that they will keep each other in sight at all times. Nobody goes ahead of the nominated front person or behind the rear person. At every fork in the path the front person consults the leader for directions.
• Most accidents happen on the way down, and particularly at the very beginning of the descent. Muscles and tendons which warmed and stretched and became very flexible on the way up may have cooled and tightened during the break. Best practice is to find sheltered places for the break keep it short and avoid beginning the descent on very steep ground. It is also good practice for walkers to have a warm drink and extra fleece with them.
• Most accidents are a result of slipping or stumbling on wet ground or wet rocks and Upper-limb fractures are the biggest danger. More serious are lower-limb fractures or sprains which prevent a person walking. Accidents are extremely rare among people who use walking poles.
• On steep or rocky descents keep a couple of meters between you and other walkers. We all have a deep instinct to grab another person if we stumble and the result can be two people injured.
Everyone can contribute to safety by learning more about mountain areas. For the Mournes there is a large-scale (1:25000) map, otherwise we use the Discovery 1:50000 series, OSNI (Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland) sheet 29 or OSI (Ordnance Survey of Ireland) sheet 36.