Tom Burditt – Lead Ranger, South and East Cumbria

Tom Burditt our lead ranger in south and east Cumbria © National Trust

Tom Burditt our lead ranger in south and east Cumbria

Tom Burditt
Lead Ranger
South and East Cumbria and East Morecambe Bay

Tom Burditt is our lead ranger for south and east Cumbria, and Morecambe Bay.

We asked him a few questions about what he does and why he enjoys working us.

How long have you been a lead ranger?
I joined as a lead ranger back at the start of April 2011, so only two and a half years ago. My wife and I had been coming to Morecambe Bay walking and on holiday for years, so it was a dream location to get a job. My grandfather was a Grimsby trawlerman and so living and working by the sea must be in the blood.

What does your average day look like?
I manage the individual rangers who look after all our fantastic coastal countryside around the edges of Morecambe Bay and up to the southern edges of the Lake District. The variety of the places, and of the work, makes coming to work in the morning a real joy. I never quite know where I'll end up – I genuinely don’t have an average day. My main office is in sunny Silverdale, on the edge of Morecambe Bay, where I could be working on a Woodland Management plan, a boundary dispute or surveying butterflies. Or I could end up discussing grazing management of sand-dunes at Sandscale Haws, on the Lake beach at Fell Foot Park talking to a kayak hire company, patrolling the ancient cliff-top chapel ruins at Heysham trying to prevent anti-social behaviour, or designing welcome boards at Arnside Knott.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part of the job is definitely being out on site and simply chatting to visitors, sharing what we both love about these amazing places, or maybe just standing in silence enjoying the view. The worst part is probably getting a phone call about an urgent crisis that requires dropping everything else and heading out, even if I am at home or not at work. It could be clearing up and broken bottles after an all-night party, having to rig up emergency repairs to a gate or a wall, or maybe being told that Heysham’s coastal Barrows are on fire.

What is your favourite coastal location?
This is a really difficult one because the places on my patch are all so special. Probably the one that stands out for me though is the setting of the ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel at Heysham, especially at sunset on a low-tide. It is a genuinely spine-tingling location because you can feel the 1500 years of history; the colours as the sun catches the creeks and pools of Morecambe Bay’s muds are magical; and the crying of the curlews and oystercatchers dredges up emotions from deep inside.
I also love the Northumberland Coast – happy memories of family holidays, eider ducks and diving gannets.

How has your love of the coast shaped your work as a lead Ranger?
My love of the coast drew me to the area and the job in the first place, so it’s been really instrumental. But I hope that my love of coastal places means that I can see our sites in the same way as our visitors see them. I can understand why they come and what they want to experience – it is fairly light touch because the wildlife, landscapes and views speak for themselves and don’t need ruining or overcomplicating by lots of interventions. It is about good management, providing good paths, access points and information to enable people to enjoy the places as they are meant to be, to simply experience the wonder of the coast and to get lost in their own thoughts.