An Interview with our Area Ranger

Leo and Buddy

Our wonderful Area Ranger Leo covers a large area of land, including Basildon Park, Greys Court, Nuffield Place, and the Goring Gap sites. Read on to find out more about the work he does and the bookable walks he will be hosting, which focus on tree identification, bluebell conservation and dog walking on National Trust sites.

So Leo, what is an average week in the life of a ranger?

'Rangering is a multi faceted and varied role, and a typical week comprises duties as varied as writing management plans and applying for grants, through to maintaining machinery and carrying out woodland management. We lead volunteers, supervise contracts and deliver much of the work ourselves.'

That is very varied! What would you say is the highlight of your job?

'The variety is part of the enjoyment but if I had to pick one element I particularly enjoy conducting forestry operations. There is something rewarding about felling large, challenging trees, extracting the timber to use, then admiring the new glade fill with flowers and butterflies in spring.'

The land must change so much throughout the seasons - what is your favourite time of the year for a walk around Basildon Park?

'Basildon Park boasts no fewer than 15 native trees and shrubs and countless other exotics and conifers. The sheer variety of shapes, sizes and colours combine to create a breathtaking sight in autumn. The sunset over the park in November is worth capturing.'

Autumn light in November at Basildon Park
Basildon Sunset Tree
Autumn light in November at Basildon Park

Can you describe what your guided estate walks at Basildon Park will include?

Ranger Walk: Tree ID, from ash to yew

'This walk is about learning simple ways to tell trees apart without the helping hand of the leaves. Attendees can also find out folklore and uses of the different timbers we encounter.'

Ranger Walk: Sit and Stay

 'We warmly welcome well behaved dogs on much of our NT land. This walk offers tips for ensuring your dog doesn't cause any distress to other visitors, livestock or wildlife.'

A family walking their dog
A family walking their dog
A family walking their dog

Ranger Walk: Basildon Blooms

'This springtime display is unique to ancient woodland in the UK. Find out the difference between the British and Spanish bluebell and how we manage our woodlands to ensure this annual display looks its best year on year.'

To join a guided walk with Leo and to learn more how we manage our woodlands, book a ticket for £3 using the 'What's On' section below, or by calling 0344 249 1895.


Upcoming events

Winter Walks

Mon 27 Jan 2020
Walk through the crisp winter woodland followed by a warming cup of hot chocolate in the tea-room.

Parkland run at Basildon Park

Tue 28 Jan 2020
Put your running shoes on every Tuesday to join our volunteers on a run around the park and woodland trails.

Friday walks at Basildon Park

Fri 31 Jan 2020
Find out more about the parkland that surrounds Basildon Park mansion from our knowledgaeable team of volunteers and rangers as they take you on a guided walk of the park.

India & Me: A Journey

Thu 13 Feb 2020
Join us to experience our new audio-visual exhibition, looking at personal stories from a collaboration with the Reading Indian Centre.

February half term: Darcy the dormouse

Sat 15 Feb 2020
Darcy the dormouse has woken up too early, can you help her find her way back to bed?

Ranger Walk: Sit and Stay

Sun 22 Mar 2020
Join Leo the Ranger and his dog Buddy for a dog walk. Breakfast sandwiches and dog treats after in the tea-room.