Top Ten Tips for a Mixed Group Hike

Old friends

What is it about old friends?  Mine all have different interests but somehow we met in a big pool of other people and the gravity of friendship has held us together. They’re the guinea pigs for our latest Top Ten Tips for a Mixed Group Hike.

The common denominator

There’s one sure-fire common denominator (for friends with at least two legs) that can bring your favourite people together. Walking. After all, it’s an activity we all have in common.

Watch our 3-minute film where we put each of our Top Ten Tips for a Mixed Group Hike to the test on the Isle of Purbeck.

1          Plan 2 routes in advance

People move at different paces. Perhaps that’s fitness, but we suggest you think of it as their preference. Plan to prevent fast ones freezing in their own sweat as they wait for the slow ones. Plan so the slow ones don’t pass-out by keeping-up. In a mixed group, there’s only one solution.  A 2-route journey plan is the key. Make a short route and a longer challenge. More advice on planning from Scouting professionals here. Look for agreement on the distance and drop-out points the night before you strike-out. All on the same page? Great, let’s group hike!

The start point for the South West Coast Path

2          Start together

Remember the friendship is the most valuable thing about this experience. Great journeys start together. Diverge the 2 routes part way. This will give some the chance to monitor their progress and perhaps they’ll choose to upgrade to the longer route? If you can plan longer and shorter alternatives to both routes you’ll be the most considerate planner in the world and get an A* from SplashMaps expedition HQ! Double top tip; measure the length of walk using string snipped to the ideal length. Place the string on the map and choose from the different routes you can make.

Team one take the castle, team two around the headland

3          Give both parties an attractive ambition

The striders may be impressed with big distances. The slower walkers may see just as much challenge in achieving a much shorter walk. Give both a worthy ambition. In our case, the longer party were rewarded with completing a first stage of the SW Coast path (36km). The shorter distance (20km) were rewarded with the views from the highest ridges on the island, a castle to aim for and -yes – a steam train ride home.

Your feet have to get used to a pounding in whatever footwear you choose

4          Work that footwear

Nothing is as miserable as blisters. Far more likely to effect the less regular walkers in the newest boots. Make sure they wear-in their footwear on a number of walks… but don’t wear them in so much that failures happen en-route!

An enthusiast can help bond your team; but often it’s down to you!

4          Bring an enthusiast

Old friends come with a range of attitudes. If there is one, bring an enthusiast, it can really lift the spirits of the rest of the team. If this comes down to you, do your best to make the whole team feel enthused yourself. Remember their happiness is your happiness and we’re all on different journeys… even if you’re all on the same path today.

Beyond the first stage… a second stage? Beyond that…? At the Anvil Head lighthouse.

5          Discuss bigger challenges

This walk could be training for bigger challenges in life. There’s no better time to contemplate a longer group hike with your friends on foot. Notice how your body responds to the outing and consider what a realistic next stage might be.

Strike while the iron is hot! While they’re thinking walking, commit to the next one!

6          Get commitment

Make this the beginning. Regular get togethers with good walking partners can’t fail to improve well-being. So, use the time to test your team’s attitude to taking-on the next challenge. It’s also the ideal time to get them to “say” they want to do more. It’s a powerful prelude to a better life.

Drying-off with a SplashMap after a chilly dip at Dancing Ledge, Dorset

7          Live with the looseness

Friends are odd. And it’s the eccentricities we love about them. Do your best not to let them disrupt the overall ambition of the walk, but do allow for some time to celebrate the amazing places you discovered together. Be prepared for some odd behaviour!

8          Connect more deeply

Conversations when walking are unique. They have a quality I always hear captured in Claire Balding’s Rambling (Radio 4). Life stories emerge, current physical and mental challenges surface, hopes and dreams arise. Use the time to connect more deeply with people you think you know and those you really don’t.

The Square and Compass is an excellent and rewarding end to a long walking day

9          Final destination

It’s not compulsory that your final destination serves the finest beer in the neighbourhood. But, in our experience, it does help. Make this destination a common point for all your walkers, easy to get to regardless of the distance you’ve walked. Post walk blues can set-in very quickly, so create an occasion to simply stop and discuss what you’ve just achieved. It’s also a great time to build some ideas together for the next walk.

Happy walkers? Let’s do this more regularly!

10        Become a habit

Our annual SplashMaps group hike has become a fixed feature in the diary since our first 3 peaks challenge 2 years ago. It’s become a habit and this year’s development to bring in people who’d really benefit from more time outdoors has spread that virtuous habit wider.

Happy Walkers

Don’t forget, what makes a happy planner is happy walkers, so get planning today!

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