Walking in open countryside
Explore the great outdoors
Walk in open countryside and experience the thrill of discovering new places.
Open countryside covers walks in non-mountainous areas where all the following criteria must be met:
- open, uncultivated, non-mountainous high or remote country
- areas enclosed by well-defined geographical or artificial boundaries
- areas of remoteness that are easily exited in a few hours
- areas where movement on steep or rocky terrain is not required (in either a planned or unplanned situation) and there are no serious water hazards
- areas typically not more than 600 meters above sea level
- routes must follow paths or linear features that are both marked on a map and clearly visible on the ground.
If you are unsure of the classification of the countryside where you are planning to walk, contact your local Walking Adviser or Outdoor Activities Adviser.
To take girls walking in open countryside, you will need to find a qualified group leader.
- If Girlguiding members join an organised walk, they must be supervised by an appropriately qualified adult.
- All equipment must be suitable for the walk or expedition being undertaken. Essential first aid and emergency equipment must be carried.
If any member of the group is under 18 and the group is walking farther than 30 minutes from an accessible road or refuge with a landline telephone, the group leader must hold one of the following qualifications:
- the Girlguiding Walking Scheme Level 3 Award
- the Mountain Training UK (MTUK) Hill & Moorland Leader Award (HML)
- the MTUK Walking Group Leader Award (WGL)
- the MTUK Mountain Leader Award (ML)
- a higher National Governing Body (NGB) qualification.
You can also lead the walk if you hold the Girlguiding Walking Scheme Level 2 Award but you must appoint a suitably experienced deputy, and either:
- walk the route beforehand
- or submit the route plan in advance to a Mountain Leader Award holder who is approved by the Girlguiding Walking Technical Adviser - your Country/Region Walking Adviser or the Girlguiding Outdoor Team Walking Specialist will be able to provide contact details. Alternatively, you can contact [email protected].
If all of the group are over 18 or the group is walking within 30 minutes from an accessible road or refuge with a landline telephone, then the group leader does not need to hold a qualification.
However, the group leader must hold the Mountain Leader Winter award if:
- the group is planning to walk where ice or snow is prevalent or forecast and any member of the group is under 18
- and the proposed route is further than 30 minutes from an accessible road or refuge with a landline telephone.
If the NGB award holder is a Girlguiding member then this qualification should be listed on Go! and the qualification must have been re-validated for use with Girlguiding in the last three years. If the NGB Award holder is not a Girlguiding member or the activity is not taking place at an approved activity centre, you should contact [email protected] for further advice.
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How many adults are needed?
Use this calculator to find out the ratio of girls to adults that is required for this activity
Normal Girlguiding ratios for activities away from the meeting place are required. The group size should be appropriate for the walk being planned, with a minimum of four walkers if members of the group are under 18 years old.
A group of members of The Senior Section walking in open countryside without a qualified leader must be supervised by an appropriately qualified adult who will ensure their safety and well-being during the walk. However, the supervisor but does not have to be with the group at all times - for example, they may be walking independently when taking part in a Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition. See more guidance on walking without a leader.