One of the greatest strengths the National Trust has is the depth of knowledge and experiences its staff and volunteers possess. Whether it be curators or room stewards looking after stately homes, gardeners or groundsmen and women looking after estates or in our case rangers looking after tenanted buildings and open countryside.
Finding the time to get together with colleagues from other places can be a challenge. Last February, along with some rangers from the Gower, we took a couple of days out to visit The Lizard in Cornwall. The idea was to meet up with some like-minded people who face similar challenges to us, share our experiences and techniques used for the conservation work we carry out and to see if we could come up with better ways of working. We spent the first day clearing laurel (an invasive species) from woodland at Penrose near The Lizard. This type of task is so much easier with a big group of you, hence the term ‘many hands make light work’! After an evening spent socialising and networking in the local pub the second day was a bit quieter. We spent time walking around The Lizard and Penrose as well as talking to staff and volunteers about the work they were doing. We also marvelled over the amazing lunch they put on for us in the woods; fresh fish cooked on an open fire amongst other delights.
The Cornwall Rangers accepted an invitation to come to Wales this year, so again the Brecon Beacons team piled into the minibus and headed off to meet them, this time on the Gower. On a very wet and windy day at Rhossili we all mucked in to clear gorse from the cliff top. The weather conditions meant the Gower rangers couldn’t put on a similar spread for lunch although the Storm Kettle was put to good use, boiling water for a hot cup of tea in the fresh air. At low tide we battled the elements to walk out to the end of Worms Head and then retired to a local pub for an evening meal and to dry out.
Apart from the obvious benefits of getting away for a few days there is a huge amount to be gained by sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience rangers at different places have built up over the years. You can also look at the negatives and learn from each other’s mistakes as well as being able to share equipment and kit when possible.
A whole host of reasons why it’s good to get together!
Simon Rose, Area Ranger