Get ready to walk

Before you go on a walk there are three really important things to know. Firstly, what will you need to bring? Secondly, what fitness levels are required? Finally,what actually happens on a walk?

What to bring?

There are certain things that it’s important to always bring on a walk, no matter if it’s a pleasant 6 mile lakeside stroll or a hard-core 18 mile yomp through the Welsh mountains.

Walk leaders, especially on our harder walks (2 Boot & 3 Boot), may check if you have the following kit and they reserve the right to refuse to take you if you haven’t got it. While this may sound a bit harsh, this will be in your own best interests, especially in bad weather:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm layers (fleece, technical layers and Merino wool are ideal; cotton should be avoided if possible because it retains moisture)
  • Light weight trousers (never jeans – they absorb sweat and rain, so you will be uncomfortable and could become dangerously cold!)
  • Rucksack with space for food, spare clothing and water
  • Spare layers
  • Clean shoes (to wear on the way home and keep your driver’s car clean!)
  • Sun hat in summer, warm hat at all other times
  • Water/cold drinks – at least 1.5 litres
  • Packed lunch unless otherwise instructed in the walk description
  • Cash for bridge tolls or parking and for any voluntary contribution towards fuel costs
  • Strong walking boots with ankle support and appropriate socks

You’re also welcome to bring the following additional items if you have them:

  • Waterproof trousers
  • First aid kit (make sure you know how to use it)
  • Storm shelters
  • Dry clothing for the journey home
  • Torch (headtorches are best), especially in the Winter months
  • Warm gloves
  • Map of the area (but the walk leader will have one anyway)

And if you need to buy anything please note that Brunel Group has discounts in place with a number of reputable outdoor retailers in Bristol; click here to view the discounts.

What fitness levels are required?

Well that depends which walk you choose, of course. Every walk we have has a grade, as follows:

1 Boot – Less than 16km/10miles generally on recognisable paths, between 2 to 5 hours walking at a reasonably gentle pace. May involve an occasional hill but always includes time to stop and look around.

2 Boot – Up to 22km/14miles and between 4 to 7 hours walking at a moderate pace. The terrain is likely to include hills and some rough ground. It will be suitable for most walkers or anyone of reasonable fitness.

3 Boot – A full day of fairly strenuous walking, generally over 22km/14miles and may involve long steep ascents and descents, with the possibility of exposed ridges and the odd scramble (often not on recognised paths). If you are new to the group please check with the leader about the difficulty of the walk.

Almost anyone could do a 1 or 1+ boot walk. Most new walkers should be able to do a 2 or possibly a 2+ boot walk but should expect to find it quite tiring. We would not normally advise people to start with a 3 boot walk unless they are either a regular walker or confident of their physical fitness and stamina.

Experience shows that the hardest walks on the programme (typically Welsh hill walks) can be very demanding. To really enjoy them you will need a reasonably high level of fitness.

If you are in any doubt, please check with the walk leader before the day (their contact details will be on the website).

What happens on a walk?

Well it all starts at the meeting point. Brunel has several meeting points for walks, all of which are generally accessible using public transport. These are listed on our programme pages.

The leader will identify her or himself to the group (their name is also published on the Walks page) and once the official meet time is reached, they will ensure that people are organized into shared cars for lifts to the walk start point (they’ll also give the drivers instructions on how to get there).

Once all cars regroup at the walk start point, the walk leader will explain the walk and then you’ll set off. Typically there will be several rest stops (more if the terrain is harder) and lots of opportunity to chat to fellow Brunellers.

Some important points to take on board:

  • Distances in walk descriptions are estimates (GPS devices vary in accuracy, so don’t be surprised if you measure a different value) and finish times cannot be guaranteed (which is why we don’t tend to give them).
  • You are responsible for not wandering off ahead without telling the walk leader, obeying the walk leader’s instructions at all times and for telling someone if you need to answer a call of nature. It’s also essential to tell the walk leader if you have blisters or if you suddenly aren’t feeling well.
  • We walk at the speed of the walk grade. So please don’t expect to go at a leisurely pace on a 3 boot; similarly, don’t turn up for a 1-boot walk with expectations of setting a new land speed record!
  • At the end of the walk the leader will typically arrange a trip to a congenial pub or teashop; don’t forget to bring some money for that post-walk pint, cake or cuppa.

So if you’re OK with all of the above, go to our programme pages to choose a suitable walk for you!