Rail Rambles are run by members of the Rail Rambles Association, a formally constituted independent walking group affiliated to the Ramblers.
We suspended our programme of Rail Rambles at the start of the national Lockdown in March 2020 and it remained suspended through the summer. During that time our committee watched developments closely, in particular following the lead given by the Ramblers. We met several times, either in socially distanced in-person meetings or over Zoom.
At the start of autumn 2020, as organised Ramblers programmes began to open up in accordance with national guidance, we decided we should also prepare to do the same. Our first step was to consult our volunteer leaders (many of whom are in the more vulnerable groups) about their readiness to lead and to reassure them that they were under no pressure to return to leading until they wished to.
We had a positive enough response from our leaders to continue with preparations. Our walks are always recced and risk-assessed with safety in mind, and it is our normal practice to provide our leaders with leader guidelines and a generic risk assessment to help them do this. In preparation for the restart we produced supplementary Covid-19 leader guidelines and a supplementary Covid-19 event delivery plan and risk assessment which also contains a short overall assessment of the Covid-19 risk associated with running Rail Rambles and a summary of adaptations made to our normal systems and programming to facilitate a Covid-secure restart. Please contact us for more information on these documents.
The leader documents were circulated to our leaders and they were consulted again on their readiness to lead, now that it was clear how Rail Rambles would have to operate during the pandemic. Many of our leaders understandably remain unavailable for the time being.
Regulations have changed since we first took the decision to prepare to restart. The current regulatory basis for Rail Rambles being run is, in England, that as an organised outdoor physical activity, our walks are exempt from the rule of six as long as we follow all government guidance and run the walks in a Covid-secure manner; in Wales, it is that groups of up to 30 may meet outdoors, with the same provisos.
The committee as a whole remains vigilant and we will respond to the situation as it changes, nationally or locally.