A day in the life of a Lydford Gorge ranger
From clearing fallen trees to running a bug home making event, there isn’t really an average day for ranger Demelza at Lydford Gorge.
What do you get up to on a daily basis?
Throughout the year we have a dedicated group of volunteers that help us with everything from car-parking to winching logs hundreds of meters to mend path edges. One of my roles is to manage the daily work schedule. In summer this includes litter-picking and grass cutting, while in winter the main jobs are lighting the ‘wood batch boiler’ and doing as much maintenance work as possible while the majority of paths are closed. No two days are ever the same.
What do you like best about your job?
I love being outside every day surrounded by such beautiful scenery. It is also great to work with such a lovely, friendly team. At the gorge there are three rangers, including me, and then about 10 volunteers who all work one day a week. Because of the steep terrain of the gorge and with very limited vehicular access, working in the gorge can be very physical. My favourite day would involve getting out with the chainsaw and driving the new all-terrain vehicle (ATV), which I have nick-named Sam. The boys don’t get all the toys here.
What are the worst things?
There aren’t many, but emptying the dog waste bins is probably top of the list. It is always better to see it in the bin than out in the gorge though.
Something that can be a challenge, is working on the steep, slippery slopes of the gorge. We had to build a big revetment, 2 metres high and 4 meters wide, to hold the bank in place after a tree fell down in February. There was lots of slipping and sliding while working on that.
How do the changing seasons affect your work?
Our work is completely different between summer and winter.
In winter most of the paths in the gorge are shut. While there are no visitors we check and repair all the handrails, steps and bridges as well as dealing with fallen trees and doing work on other trees to prevent them becoming dangerous. Our winter season runs from November to February and so we usually have lots of work to fit into a short amount of time.
In summer our duties become even more varied. Along with all the jobs to keep the gorge safe and looking smart, we help out with events such as making wild woodland sculptures. For this event we use wood from the gorge which we gather from fallen trees.
We also have strong links with the local primary school, who visit six times a year. In return for helping us out by clearing leaves and creating funny woodland faces for us to use, the children get to spend a day at the gorge with the rangers, doing all sorts of fun activities. Last year they even got to melt pewter over the fire to make their own lucky charms.
Every day is different, and that is what makes my job as a ranger so interesting.