Framework for Walking Guide/Leader Training

The training of walking guides in the European Ramblers’ Association (ERA)

As stated in the “Declaration of Marcoussis” dating back to May 2005, a common European standard for the training of walking guides is necessary. 

1. Why do we need qualified training?

Rambling is an activity which, in the context of a desire to discover and understand natural and human environments, creates a passion to share in an atmosphere of goodwill.A pastime demanding stamina, rambling requires a minimum of knowledge and preparation in return for a maximum of pleasure and safety.In the social context, it is absolutely necessary that its organisers rely on leaders who are both competent and qualified. Managing rambling demands, amongst other things, that certain rules are followed.

  • To be familiar with the route in detail, the weather conditions and any particular aspects of the chosen environment.
  • To prepare oneself by judging the physical fitness of the party, the schedule and by acquiring knowledge of the terrain to be crossed.
  • To provide oneself with the right equipment to ensure protection and safety for the party.
  • To act in an appropriate way that conserves effort, by remaining aware of possible risks and by respecting the surroundings.
  • To adapt oneself to evolving conditions, the abilities of the party, changes of route and knowing when to turn back if conditions deteriorate.

To respond to these demands, leader training is an absolute necessity. A training programme with a common core in each country must evolve towards a suitable level of competence for managing and organising rambling as an activity.Each programme must therefore contain three elements:

  • Technical skills
  • Social skills
  • Respect for the environment and the cultural heritage

The pleasure to be found in rambling is assured by respecting certain rules and the social group context is the best environment in which to contribute to this by a thorough organising of the activity and high quality management.

2. The training of walking guides / Guides to protected natural areas  

The training of walking guides is an important component in the efforts to optimize and secure the quality of guided walks. With regard to the topics “walking in nature and local history/geography”, it is the basis for a joint eventful walk. The things a walker would like to know about nature and culture is being transmitted to him during guided excursions organized by walking associations in Europe. This is why the training of walking guides is a focal point also for the European Ramblers’ Association (ERA).

3. Targets

The training of walking guides takes up the major concerns of the walking associations: to enthuse people for walking and to introduce them to the cultural and scenic particularities of our countries. The aim of these courses is the training of interested club members, but also of non-members, to walking guides and to certified guides to protected natural areas who can pass on their knowledge in the field of nature, culture and walking-specific themes during guided walks organized by the local branches of walking associations or by others. The aim of these walks is to combine physical exercise, sensual perceptions as well as feelings and sensations to a total walking experience.

4. What walking-specific knowledge should a walking guide have?

Principles:The function of the walking guide/guide to protected natural areas of the walking associations is to independently organize walking tours, to carry them out with groups and to look after the participants.During the walking tour, the walking guide/guide to protected natural areas passes on his knowledge about the coherences of nature, culture and history of the countryside and its inhabitants. He points out the need of protection of nature and possible practical measures.Conditions for admission to the training are:

  • 18 years old
  • Proof of required participation at the First Aid course (dating back no longer than three years)
  • Physical fitness to attend the training
    • Condition to attend training events (Walks)

Topics of the training

The day walk / guided tours:Preparation, realization and follow-up of day walks/guided tours
Environmental experience,  target-group-oriented walk planning

Walk of several days:Planning and preparation, concept
Organization and realization, follow-up
Planning of a walking tour:Definition of route, distance of route, calculation of walking time, progress planning of day walks
Health precaution
Nutrition, condition, clothing and first aid for walkers,  behaviour in case of emergency
Safety training
Communication and leadership didactics:Rhetoric, free speech, efficient use of tools: maps, compass, GPS.
The walking map/leisure map: structure and content, interpretation and handling.
Basic design requirements for terrain forms
Behaviour in the open terrain, meteorology
Duties of the walking guide, legal and liability questions, travel law, insurance for foreign countries
Management questions, calculation and taxes
Mankind – culture – landscape:Genesis and geology, climate and vegetation evolution, agriculture and forestry, forms of rural management, sustainable use of soil, claims of exploitation, social requirements
Development of regional economy (handcraft, industry, transportation, services)
Basic information of the regional history, development of the cultural landscape (buildings, architectural styles)

Nature-historical basis of the region:Living spaces and their signification  for plants and animals, ecological systems of the region
Mankind – culture – landscape:Regional cultures, regional folklore, basis of conservation, regional and supraregional models, cathegories of protected areas, nature conservation contracts, programmes for cultural landscapes, sustainable landscape and regional development
Tourism:What is tourism? How does it work? Tourism marketing, marchantising of walking arrangements, chances of cooperations
Communication:Introduction, basis and theory of communication, forms of communication, concious and unconcious communication, communication disturbance, speech and breathing techniques, body language for walking guides
Practical exercises in teamwork and role-playing
Nature and adventure pedagogics:Basis of the nature and adventure pedagogics, nature as place of ecological education. Esteem of the landscape, characterization of varying target groups, basic tips for leadership in nature
Planning of guided tours, recognition and presentation of natural phenomenons
Adventure oriented presentation of landscape
Closing discussion adventure pedagogics
Discussion of the homework which accompanied the course
Written examination
Solution of questions on a questionnaire (multiple choice):Elaboration of a walking tour with description and press release
Practical examination:Closing walking tour with short lectures of the participants on prepared topics.

Training organisations

For training opportunities in your country, contact your local walking organisation for further information.