Q: What have other people said about walking with DWRG?
A: The two most often heard comments are “it was my first walk and I wondered if I’d feel left out; but everyone was very friendly and eager to encourage me, and I’m definitely going to join” and “I can’t believe it only costs £5 for a whole year of membership.
Q: Who do I contact to book my place on one of your walks?
A: Once you become a member you can turn up on any walk without the need to book in advance. And no one will ask you to pay for your day out, as this is all included in your one-off annual membership subscription. If you are not yet a member and want to try us out, please join us on a walk (see details on our ‘Home’ page).
Q: Do you ever cancel walks?
A: Hardly ever. It could happen if the leader is indisposed and no substitute person is available to lead that walk. Even when it is snowing or pouring with rain our walks usually go ahead, as we are not softies! We update our website if there is a cancellation and we email all members to inform them.
Q: Who leads your walks?
A: Our members volunteer to lead walks.
Q:What do I get for my membership fee?
A: Public liability insurance whilst on our walks, you get our on-line walks programme of Sunday walks throughout the year and Friday evening walks from April to September and regular email news, a 15% discount at a leading retailer of outdoor clothing, and opportunities to come on walking weekend trips at cost price.
Q: Who joins DWRG?
A: Our entry age is people in their 30s to 50s and on most walks you will find a mix of younger and older members. We don’t evict people after they turn 60! On virtually all walks you’ll meet single people and couples.
Q: How many members do you have?
A: At the moment, 2016, we have over 100 members although walks tend to attract between 8 and 20 members.
Q: If I join, will I be expected to lead walks?
A: No, it is not compulsory. We will encourage and support anyone keen to lead or jointly lead a walk because it is nice to have as many volunteers as possible. We will help give you the confidence and skills to read a map and plan walks.
Q: I might not come on more than a few walks per year. Does this matter?
A: No, as this sounds like the predicament of many members; we lead busy lives. There is no minimum or maximum requirement for attending walks and no explanations needed if you have long gaps between coming out with us.
Q: If I am already a member of the Ramblers Association do I need to pay another subscription to DWRG?
A: Yes. Membership of the Ramblers does not grant you membership of DWRG because we are entirely independent of that organisation.
Q: How do I become a member?
Q: Why have you asked me for my postal address and other contact details?
A: By having a record of your contact details we can tell our walk leaders that they need not concern themselves with form-filling at the start of the walk because the club has ensured that everyone who turns up on a walk is identifiable. We think it is safer if everyone participating in an event knows that the club has a record of who everyone is. A postal address and landline phone number are the best identifiers. Our aim is to keep any administration to the bare minimum and it turns out that this basic information from you is what we really do need. It is definitely not used for any marketing purposes and we delete your details instantly if you decide not to join or not to renew your membership.
Q: Do you have insurance?
A: Walking is a very low risk activity but your £5 subscription payment to DWRG buys you public liability cover and is one important reason why you should become a subscribing member as soon as you can. Details of this policy can be found on this website and you will see more details of it during the membership joining process. DWRG has never needed to make an insurance claim but has insurance to ensure participants’ peace of mind. Please note that bringing a dog with you will affect your eligibility under the policy. If you walk with other groups we encourage you to ask what insurance cover they provide.
Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: We occasionally have dogs on walks. Please contact the walk leader in advance, as the decision is theirs. If you bring a dog it is your responsibility to keep it under control, and you need to bear in mind that the DWRG public liability insurance cover is invalidated.
A: You should comfortably be able to walk at least 5 miles in 2 hours. If you are not confident that you can do this our advice would be that on your first walk you come prepared for the possibility that you might need to leave it before the end. This is not as drastic as it sounds. Our first tip is that before the walk you give a friend or relative the walk details and your mobile number. Our second tip is to bring the phone number of a taxi firm. Our third tip is that you bring a map with you (even a road atlas). Our fourth tip is that you bring a relative or friend with you on the walk. The walk leader may also be able to advise you about suitable places en route that you could exit to get transport home e.g. a train station, the pub, a town. If you come on a figure-of-8 route the half-way point will locate you back at the place where you parked your car, so this is ideal for people who are building up their walking fitness.
Q: If I fall unwell on a walk what should I do?
A: Tell the leader as soon as possible and usually the advice would be to leave the walk and return home. It always pays to come on a walk prepared with a mobile phone and a map and contact details for a friend or relative that you or the walk leader can contact to collect you. The leader and the group will be supportive in ensuring you can leave the walk safely. If you feel unwell at the start of a walk the best advice is to give it a miss.
Q: What if I injure myself on a walk?
A: DWRG accepts no responsibility for illness or injury of participants. You walk with us at your own risk. This is consistent with the Ramblers Association and other walking groups.
Q: Where do you walk?
A: If you look at a map of south-east England, our local patch is the area extending from Greater London to the Hampshire and Sussex coasts, bounded in the east by Tonbridge (Kent) and in the west by Alton (Hampshire). It takes in the North Downs, the South Downs National Park, the Weald and Surrey Hills. Over the year the actual range of walks depends on the walk leaders choosing areas they want to walk in, so this could vary a lot.
Q: How far do you walk?
A: Every walk leader will work out the distance of their walk and include this detail in the programme. A Sunday walks is usually 8 to 12 miles (3 to 4 hours of actual walking). Some might be a “figure of eight” route, allowing you do only a morning or afternoon’s walk. In the summer we like to add some longer walks up to about 15 miles. We also hold short (3 mile) evening walks on Fridays from May to early September.
Q: Where do your members live?
We are very spread out. We get applications for membership from all over London and the south-east. When members find that they are from the same area they may decide to car-share.
Q: What trips away do you do, and how much do they cost?
A: We hold a mix of trips away every year, some at B&Bs or full board walking centres, some at Youth Hostels. Prices vary according to accommodation, but as an example, a 5-night hostel trip in 2016 cost £295 per head for full-board accommodation. Trips are always charged at cost-price. We make no profit.
Q: I don’t have a car – is Downs & Weald for me?
A: This might be an issue because few of our walks start at railway stations. When you join you get access to a car-sharing database on our website and might find that one of the drivers lives near you. You could negotiate with them for lifts and share the petrol costs.
Q: What should I wear / bring with me on walks?
A: Please wear walking boots for comfort and protection of your feet. Also bring waterproof over-clothing, some snacks and water to drink, a mobile phone and some cash. Some members like to bring along an Ordnance Survey (OS) map, compass or GPS device to track a walk. Even if you have no OS map of the area you could bring your road atlas with you to maintain an idea of your bearings on the walk route. We recommend Cotswold Outdoor for purchases of outdoor clothing and boots.
Q: Should I bring my own first aid kit?
A: Yes please bring your own medical and first aid supplies, as the walk leader does not provide these for the group. It is extremely rare for anyone to need first aid but it pays to put some items in your kit so that you are prepared.