My First Day Walk (continued)

Other Equipment

Most members also bring a rucksack, which is used to hold lunch, drink, seating mats, waterproof over-trousers/jackets, fleeces, wallets, car keys, etc. For a day walk, a day sack with a capacity of around 20 to 25 litres will do fine. Some have a hydration bag system or the mounting fittings for one built in, others have mesh backs that try and stop lots of sweat forming where the sack presses against your back. Any that you are comfortable with will do – for a day walk, it really is a glorified, easy to carry, lunch box, but it is very useful.

Some members also like to use walking poles. These can be useful for a walk with lots of climbing, especially if you have any issues with your knees.

Other Items to Bring

Other than walking gear, the event page will tell you what else you need to bring with you. This is usually a packed lunch and some money for a drink at the pub afterwards or for an ice cream if the weather’s nice. Sometimes the walk stops for a meal in a pub; in that case you don’t need the packed lunch but you will need money to pay for the food! Again, the event page will tell you what the lunch arrangements are.

Whether or not you bring a packed lunch, it is important to bring sufficient liquid with you for the day to keep yourself hydrated. Although the temptation to bring a can of beer may be strong, alcohol dehydrates the body and thus is absolutely the wrong thing to drink whilst walking. This is especially important in summer when you dehydrate more. This is also the time when sun cream is a must have item. It is worth buying a tube and leaving it in your rucksack so that it is always there.

Some of our walks include a visit or activity such as a guided tour around a Roman villa, a trip on a steam train, a visit to a country house or museum, etc, In these cases, you will need to bring additional money along with you to cover the activity cost. The amount will be shown on the event page so it is definitely worth reading well before you set off for the day.

At The Start of the Walk

Plan to be at the start point between 15 and 30 minutes before the walk starts. You never know if there will be a delay on your route and the walk needs to start promptly in order to finish on time and thus let people catch their return transport.

When you get to the start point you will most likely see a group of men, all wearing boots, outdoor gear and rucksacks. They usually can’t be missed! If you are not sure if it is our group and don’t want to mention OutdoorLads, just ask someone if this is the ‘ODL’ day walk. The three letters are shorthand that everyone uses and will be instantly recognised.

The leader will get to the start point well before the walk starts in order to welcome members as they arrive and check them against the attendance list. If you are going to be late or find out at the last minute that you cannot attend it’s extremely helpful if you call the event leader, so that the group won’t be waiting around to see if you are about to arrive and if you arent going to make it can set off without you. The number to call is 0161 420 0001 and when prompted by the automated system, enter 1 and then the event number; this is given at the top of the event page. The telephone system will connect you directly with the event leader. If he doesn’t answer, leave a message. This is important as the leader’s phone will only show a missed call from the OutdoorLads number and not your number and so he can’t call you back.

Once you arrive at the walk start point, the leader will tick you off on the attendance sheet and people then chat whilst everyone arrives. The leader will usually be carrying a clipboard or map bag and will be moving around the group to ensure that everyone is accounted for. If you can’t spot him ask one of the other guys there. Once everyone has arrived or has phoned to say they will be late or not coming, the leader will give the welcome talk which includes a reminder about lunch arrangements, what sort of route you’ll be taking, including any danger points you may encounter, such as crossing major roads etc. He will also welcome the guys on their first event. This isn’t to embarrass you but to make sure that the other members can make you feel welcome.

During the Walk

Once the walk starts people naturally break up into small groups. During the walk, these groups continually change and so you will probably talk to most people by the end of the day. If it’s your first walk, you will also have a lot of people waiting to say ‘hello’. If, in the past, you have found groups of gay or bisexual men to be unfriendly, OutdoorLads events can be a bit of a revelation. Everyone is made welcome and if you are worried that you will be walking on your own, this will definitely not be the case.

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