Policy & Influence

Advice about walking during COVID 19

Bridgewater Canal #Trafford

Bridgewater Canal, Throstle Nest Bridge cc-by-sa/2.0 - © David Dixon - geograph.org.uk/p/5296406 – cropped from original

Kingfisher Trail #Bolton #Bury

Kingfisher Trail cc-by-sa/2.0 - © David Dixon - geograph.org.uk/p/1775525 – cropped from original

1 of 3

Step 1 (phase 2) from 29th March

From Monday 29th March, restrictions will loosen slightly as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. This will enable more physical activity to be able to take place. Read the full government guidance here. This guidance will remain in place until we reach Step 2 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 12 April.

What sport and physical activity can take place from 29th March?

The UK government roadmap for lifting lockdown means people in England can now walk outside in groups of up to six or two households. Ramblers group walks and volunteer activities can also resume, following Covid-secure guidance. You must continue to minimise travel and must not travel to Scotland or Wales.

The headlines for walking:

  • Walking with family & friends: Groups of up to six, or two households, can get together for informal walks.
  • Formally organised group walks: Covid-secure Group walks are classified by the UK government as ‘organised physical activities’ and can take place in groups larger than six – please check with your local group. Coach rambles remain suspended.
  • Path maintenance: Covid-secure path maintenance can take place – please check with your local group.
  • Other formal walking group activities: Covid-secure activities can take place – please check with your local group. Events, training and committee meetings should be held outdoors or online where possible.

Please ensure you keep up to date of all national guidance and your responsibilities to ensure sport and physical activity remains covid-compliant. This guidance will remain in place until we reach Step 2 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 12 April.

  • People can meet outdoors either in a group of 6 (from any number of households), or in a group of any size from up to 2 households (each household can include existing support bubbles, if eligible). This includes within private gardens. Social distancing must be maintained between people who don’t live together or share a support bubble.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, sports pitches, outdoor skateparks, outdoor gyms and open-air swimming pools, are allowed to reopen.
  • Organised outdoor sport and physical activity for adults and children can return, which will be exempt from the legal gathering limits. More information about organised sport and activity below.
  • Indoor sport and physical activity cannot take place except for some specific purposes, details of which can be found below.
  • Spectators are not allowed at any grassroot sport and physical activity sessions or events. This does not apply to carers for disabled people, or adults needed to supervise under-18s in a safeguarding role. Where it‘s necessary for them to be present, supervising adults should not mix with others from outside their household or support bubble.
  • Informal sport and physical activity has to follow the legal gathering limits for outdoors: the ‘rule of six’ or two households.
  • Disabled people can take part in organised outdoor and indoor sport without being subject to social contact limits.
  • Anyone acting in a workforce capacity (for example volunteers, match officials, coaches and instructors) are exempt from the rules on gathering, however, they must remain socially distanced from players where possible during play/activity.
  • Travel for sport and exercise is permitted.

Organised outdoor sport and physical activity

Organised outdoor sport and physical activity for adults and children can return, which will be exempt from the legal gathering limits. The threshold on participant numbers will be decided by each national governing body (NGB) or organising organisation and will follow Covid-secure guidance. Organised outdoor sport and physical activity must be formally organised by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body, company or charity and follow sport-specific guidance where appropriate.

Organised outdoor sport and activity includes:

  • Organised outdoor group activities (e.g. outdoor exercise classes, group cycle rides, walking groups etc.)
  • Outdoor team sports (including adapted versions for ‘higher risk’ team sports)
  • Other organised outdoor sports, such as, but not limited to, tennis, golf, horse riding, water sports will be able to resume.
  • Organised sport participation events (road races, running and cycling events, triathlons etc.).
  • Outdoor personal training and coaching sessions (where formally organised and follows Covid-secure guidance.)

If the sport is not formally organised, or the sport-specific guidance is not being followed, this is considered to be informal or self-organised sport and will need to follow the guidance on outdoor legal gathering limits.

Participants should adhere to social gathering limits when not actively participating, e.g. before or after the walk.

Please read the full government guidance here to remain up to date with all new restrictions

Respect other people and protect the natural environment

Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods. Take the time to read signage. Respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing.

Before travelling, you should check if facilities, such as car parks, are open to visitors. Do not park on verges or block gates. This restricts access for other vehicles.

When in the countryside, follow the Countryside Code. You can do this by:

  • leaving no trace of your visit and taking all of your litter home
  • not using barbecues as they risk causing wildfires
  • keeping dogs under effective control and on a lead when you are around farm animals – read further guidance for pet owners
  • leaving gates as you find them and following instructions on signs
  • keeping to footpaths and following signs where they suggest alternative routes

Wildlife may have moved into areas where it hasn’t previously been found, including nesting birds. Land managers may have taken action to provide extra protection of wildlife. Be vigilant and comply with these protective measures to ensure you do not disrupt the local wildlife.

In addition, we urge all walkers to:

  • Be sensitive to rural communities if considering travelling further from home to walk.
  • Avoid activities that may result in injury or require emergency services support, especially in remote locations.
  • Be aware that popular locations like National Parks or the coast may be very busy, making social distancing difficult.
  • Plan ahead, as some sites and facilities may be closed or have restrictions.

In many cases, the best option will be to stay local and explore the local area on foot.

Our guidance in light of the latest government advice

It is clear that Coronavirus has not gone away, and we need to continue to help control the virus to save lives. If you or anyone in your household has Coronavirus symptoms, you should continue to self-isolate.

If you are clinically vulnerable (i.e. over 70 or with a listed underlying health condition) you are advised to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.

Walking in your local area achieves a balance. You can stay fit and healthy, and ensure you’re doing your bit by maintaining social distance.

The government is still encouraging people to exercise, and we (obviously) agree. So here are the best reasons and top tips for going for a walk.

Why go for a walk?

Keep fit and healthy

Walking packs more of a punch than most people realise! Good for our hearts, lungs and blood (that’s blood pressure, sugar levels and blood flow) walking is a brilliant, low impact way to get and stay healthy.

Unless you’re self-isolating, you can still head outside and take your daily walk at the moment. Just remember to keep your eye on government advice to ensure you’re doing things safely.

Combat stress and promote good mental health

Evidence shows that a good walk can do wonders for our mental wellbeing. We’ve always said that a good stroll is good for your northern soul, and that’s true now more than ever.

Walking for at least 10 minutes a day is a great way to relieve stress, improve self-esteem and help with anxiety.

During difficult times, knowing how to manage our stress and worries is so important and walking is a fantastic way to help with this!

Get exploring from your doorstep

All this talk of social distancing and reduced contact can feel quite isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. As well as connecting with your loved ones using phone calls and video chats, you can connect with your surroundings too.

Whether you live in a more green and rural part of Greater Manchester or somewhere colourfully urban, once a day you can still go explore in your local area. Check out the routes page on our website to see if there is one close to your home that you can discover.

Use this time to listen to new music, find a new favourite podcast or help the kids stretch their legs. Get some comfy shoes on and feel the wind on your skin

How should I be walking? - Follow government advice

Government advice will continue to evolve as time goes on, but right now we are still being encouraged to stay active within the restrictions, and walking is an easy and accessible way to do this.

Covid 19 Update from the Ramblers:

Following the recent announcement of further restrictions we are sad to say Ramblers group activities will be cancelled from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, in accordance with the new UK government guidelines.

If the lockdown is extended, we will update the information and FAQs for volunteers on our coronavirus web pages.

This new lockdown affects all in-person group activities including group walks, training, social events and path maintenance working groups.

30 minutes a day

The government’s Chief Medical Officer recommends 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ exercise a week for adults. That translates to 30 minutes of walking every weekday.

This can be first thing in the morning to prepare for the day ahead, a lunchtime walk as a break from your makeshift office, or an evening walk to wind down.

Finding a rhythm that suits you is important. Don’t worry about distance or pace, just appreciate the time spent on foot!

Can’t go out?

If you are self-isolating and happen to have some outdoor space, walking around your garden might reveal spring-time sights, smells and sounds you’d never even noticed.

Share this Resource

Stay in the loop.

To stay informed about our latest news and events, sign up to our newsletter.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.