Organizing a Obstacle Hike

  • Organize a short hike of about 1-2 K.M. using the wood craft signs given in Scouting for Boys for a Patrol or at least two Scouts. This should be done with the permission of the Scout Master and done in the area close to where your Scout Group is situated.

  • A verbal report to be given to the Scout Master.

Hiking can be an excellent activity for scouts, not only from a physical fitness aspect but also to encourage them to develop the skills of planning, teamwork and leadership when preparing for and undertaking a hike or expedition. Hiking can also be a means to an end, for example, hiking to a campsite, to a National Trust property, or to a place of interest.

Planning a Hike

Listed opposite and overleaf are the steps required to plan a hike. If you are new to hiking, then it may be a good idea to discuss your plans with an experienced hiker, so that he or she can give you some help and advice.

The first thing you will need to do is to decide where and how far you want to go, and if there is a purpose to the hike. Are you going just to walk, or are you visiting something en route?

Once the route and purpose have been decided, you will need to inform and ask for permission from the parents or guardians of the Scouts taking part (if applicable). This must be done in writing.

Nearer to the day of the hike, you will need to gather your equipment, check that it is in working order and pack it. You will also need to check that all of the Scouts taking part have all of the required equipment.


The equipment you will require is dependent on where you are going, the time of year, the terrain and the weather. There follows a list of items that you will need:

Map and compass - These are essential, and it is best to have a 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey map. A 1:25,000 map is required if you are going up into the hills or into remote areas. The map should be contained in some type of waterproof carrier (such as a stout plastic bag or transparent plastic folder). Please also see Scout Skills factsheets on Map and Compass.

Route plan - You will need to take a copy of your route plan with you and also leave a copy with someone. This is a form completed with details of where you intend to go, type of terrain, escape routes, names of those taking part, weather forecast and so on. A route plan factsheet is available.

Whistle - This is another necessity and should be available for use in case of an emergency when you need to attract other people's attention.

Torch - If you are planning to be out after dark, then this should be carried as well as spare batteries and a spare bulb for the torch. Fluorescent clothing will also be necessary if walking in the dark

Mobile phones – These can be a useful resource, but should not be relied upon as the sole means of contact. They may not work in poor reception areas and batteries can drain down.

First aid kit - This is an essential item for any sort of hike. Apart from the usual requirements, it should include plasters and dressings to deal with blisters. Further information is available within the factsheet First Aid and Medical Chests.

Survival bag - This is a heavyweight plastic bag, which is large enough for someone to get into in an emergency to prevent hypothermia.

Walking boots - If you are intending to go hill walking, then you will require a good pair of walking boots - do not attempt to go hill walking in ordinary shoes, as they do not give adequate support to your ankles. If you only intend to go for an easy stroll in the local forest, then you can wear shoes, but make sure that they are stout enough for the job. Always 'break in' new boots before undertaking long hikes.

Waterproof outer clothing - It is necessary to have with you waterproof clothing that is both wind and waterproof whatever the weather is like when you start out. It is important to keep yourself warm and dry, as a lot of accidents occur when people are cold, wet and miserable

Layers of clothing - It is better to wear several layers of thin clothing, rather than one thick garment, as several tops, for example, will trap layers of warm air around you. If you get very hot, then one or more layers can be removed and you can still keep warm. Do not wear tight fitting clothes or jeans, as they will not keep you sufficiently warm and they may possibly rub and become uncomfortable. Thick socks also help with not only keeping feet warm, but also with reducing the possibility of blisters. Depending on the terrain, weather forecast, and time of year, you may also require a hat, scarf and gloves.

Food - When walking, you expend a lot of energy, so you will need to take food with you. Have a good breakfast before you set out and take something rich in carbohydrates for lunch, for example, sandwiches, biscuits, nuts, raisins, cakes, chocolate. It is also a good idea to have something that you can eat whilst walking, such as glucose sweets, to keep your blood sugar level high.

If the weather is cold, a thermos flask with a hot drink, such as hot chocolate, tea or soup will be appreciated!

Rucksack - Finally, you will need a daypack or small rucksack to carry all the equipment. A pack with padded shoulder straps and a waist belt is best. Any spare clothing should be packed in plastic bags to ensure that it is kept dry.

If you, are going for an overnight hike, you will need to bring extra equipment, such as spare clothing, sleeping bag, carry mat, tent, cooking equipment, and so on. The Group leader should carry a bothy large enough to house the whole group

It is important to remember that whatever you take, you will have to either wear or carry it. Try the weight of your pack before you leave home to check that you feel comfortable carrying it around for a day.


As with any activity, it is very important to consider the safety factors when hiking. You must never walk alone, always go in small parties. The party must not be more than seven people in size including the leader of the party. Each party should include a named and designated party leader. If you have more than seven in an area each party must move either on different routes or, if on the same route, with a clear time and geographical separation in order that they do not become mixed. The minimum size of a party must be four.

Everyone in the party should be able to recognise and treat hypothermia and wind chill, especially if you are going up into the hills or on the moors. At least one member of the party should have a basic knowledge of first aid.

You should have several Members in your party that know the emergency procedure if someone becomes injured. (One person stays with the casualty, whilst others go for help.) You also need to know the international distress signal, which are six whistle blasts, one-minute silence and a repeating of this signal. The reply is three blasts, one-minute silence and repeat

Tricks of the Trade

When walking in a group, pair the Scouts off in twos (Buddy system), so that they can check on each other all of the time

Always plan a route that is right for the weakest of your participants. If the route is too hard or too long, then you will stop having fun and may put those involved off hiking in the future

If you are hiking with Scouts, try to have a purpose or objective for the expedition and discuss what you see on the way, as this might keep their minds off tired feet or aching backs!

When you go hiking, have a set number of planned breaks (for example, ten minutes an hour), but do not keep stopping, as this will not only use up a lot of time, but also in the long run, make people feel more tired as it will ruin their walking rhythm.

If planning to undertake an expedition or weekend hike without much previous experience, you will probably need to go on some training or practice hikes. These are relatively short hikes which give you an opportunity to find out about your own capabilities for walking (pace, distance and so on), to 'break in' new boots, and to practise carrying a loaded rucsac.

Finally, always remember to tell your Home Contact when you have arrived back, so that they do not call out the emergency services for no reason


This could take up to a couple of hours to plan the outline of where you are going, the exact route to be taken, and decide what equipment is required. The time required for the hike itself will, of course, depend upon your choice of hike or expedition, the destination, the route and how long you need to spend travelling to get to the starting point.

Before you hike

  • Choose the area where you want to hike. This should be an area that you would enjoy seeing and that you think is within your capabilities. If you are not used to walking, do not start by climbing Ben Nevis!

  • Get hold of a 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map of that area. You should also ensure that you are happy about reading a map and using a compass.

  • Plan your route on a Route plan form. (see factsheet)

  • Find out what the weather is like where you are going and at the time of year that you are planning to go. This can be done by phoning the local Tourist Information Office.

  • Produce a list of equipment you need to take (see Information Sheet for details). Once you have got all of the equipment you need, pack it in your day sack and try it on. You may find that it is uncomfortable and you need to either rethink what you are taking or repack it.

  • Make sure that you establish a Home Contact (see factsheet) and that they have got a copy of your Route plan and who is taking part. You should inform them of the time that you

  • Can I state the safety requirements for hiking?

  • Can I explain the purpose and function of a Home Contact?

  • Can I outline the emergency procedure?

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