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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Off-Road Cycling


(Published January 2023, replacing March 2016)


This page aims to provide information for those wishing to run cycling activity for a group of young people, or to do it for themselves if they are a young person, beyond what is included within environment zero (FS120422). 

Cycling Permit  

The Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme is designed to ensure that only people with the relevant skills and experience lead adventurous activities for the young people. Therefore, all activities classed as adventurous can only be led by someone holding the appropriate permit. Additionally young people (under 18) can take part in adventurous activities for themselves with personal activity permits. 

A cycling permit is required for all cycling activity beyond what is defined within environment zero definition. 

Levels of Permit  

Off road cycling 1                            

Off road cycling 2                            

The Assessor can choose to take into account prior knowledge and experience in sections of the assessment as appropriate for the candidate. 

Each permit can be further restricted (such as through geographical locations, load carried on bike (trailer or person), daylight hours only and so on) to end up with an individual permit to the level of the competence and requirements of any person.   

Types of Permit

There are three types of permit available for Off-Road Cycling. These are:

Personal: Allows a young person (under 18) to take part in cycling with others with a personal Off-Road Cycling permit.

Leadership: Allows the permit holder to lead cycling for a single group.

Supervisory: Allows the permit holder to remotely supervise more than one cycling group.

Permit Limitations 

Personal: If you hold a personal cycling permit you can go cycling with others who hold a personal cycling permit. It does not allow you to go cycling with anyone not holding a cycling permit. 

Leadership: If you have a permit to lead cycling then you will need to be with your group at all times. Details of group sizes for cycling can be found in POR. 

Supervisory: If you hold a permit to supervise cycling then you can supervise up to three groups remotely. This should be from no further away than 3km if on foot or a bike, or 10km if in a vehicle. You should also ensure that adequate systems have been set up to monitor and communicate with the group. You remain responsible for all the groups you are supervising, but can designate someone with the appropriate skills to be the leader of each group. 


When remotely supervising groups the holder of a cycling supervisor permit needs to designate a leader for each group. This designation lasts only for the current activity while the permit holder is supervising. 

People designated as group leaders should hold the skills and be responsible enough to lead a group safely in the environment in which they are in. There is no problem with making young people group leaders if they are up to the role, and it can be used as a useful development tool. 

Further definitions 

Riding after dark riding at night presents additional, elevated risk, including the risk from other road users. Cyclists need to ensure they are highly visible to other road users and demonstrate Be Safe, Be Seen.

Navigation and group management can also be particularly challenging, therefore those wishing to intentionally lead cycling activity after dark must demonstrate their ability to ride after dark during the assessment, if they are unable to do this their permit should be restricted to daylight hours only. 

Long distance, multi-day riding and/or expedition

Activity of this nature can be a serious undertaking. It is likely that additional loads will need to be carried adding additional stresses to the bike and participant. It may also be the case that distance from support is increased and more complicated trail and/or roadside repairs are required.

Those wishing to complete long distance, multi day riding and/or expeditions must have demonstrable experience and understanding of management of a long distance multi day ride, prior to leading such an activity as part of Scouts.  

Environment zero and environment one cycling activity

Must be no more than 2.5 KM or 30 minutes walking distance from emergency vehicle support. If for example Forestry Commission fire roads and other tracks are to be considered as emergency vehicle access points, it is the responsibility of the leader to ensure prior to the planned cycling activity that emergency vehicles could access if needed at the planned time of the cycling activity. So, for example if gates are locked, who holds the keys and will they be available when the cycling activity will be taking place. Any emergency vehicle access point must be accessible by a normal road going ambulance. In the weather conditions at the time the planned cycling activity will take place. 

An off-road cycling level 2 permit holder

Will be able to safely lead/manage and teach cycling activity on red or black, or where there is no obvious line choice to enable a safe and flowing ride experience.

Please note a level 2 permit holder is not restricted regarding operating area/environment, but should hold appropriate qualifications/experience to make appropriate judgements regarding route selection and operating area/environment for the groups they are working with. 

Rules relating to off-road cycling

Rule 9.7 Adventurous Activities Permit Scheme

Rule 9.8 Adult groups undertaking activities

Rule 9.12.4 Cycling

Rule 9.12.6 Hill walking party size


General activity rules

Rule 9.1 All Activities 

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors