Meet the Woolacombe beach rangers
If you are visiting Woolacombe this summer, you'll see our beach rangers out and about running Rockpool Rambles, guided walks, and doing their bit to keep the beach clean. Read on to find a bit more about our newest recruits.
Names: Myles, Gudrun and Rosie
Job: Woolacombe Beach Rangers
What did you do before you became a beach ranger?
Gudrun: This is the third time I have been a Beach Ranger here. I also spent time as a volunteer. I am a writer (I write articles about human resources which couldn’t really be a bigger contrast to working on the beach) – so I wrote before taking this on and will do so again afterwards. It is lovely to spend time on the beach rather than looking at the business-end of a laptop.
Rosie: I was a Holiday Park Ranger in Cornwall. I also sailed across the Atlantic in an all female team, as part of the ARC race in 2017.
Myles: I attended Braunton secondary school and then onto Petroc where I studied Geography, Biology and Environmental Studies. From this I went on to Bournemouth University to study an Environmental Science degree where I will be going into my final year. Through this I’ve focused on marine studies and have helped out with lecturers’ research projects into lagoon species and microplastics. Last year I also spent 7 weeks on a placement with the North Devon Coast AONB where I learnt massive amounts about our local coast and worked in partnership with the Trust.
What’s a typical day like as a beach ranger? What do you get up to?
Gudrun: A day as a beach ranger is a very varied thing. Sometimes, we have community engagement events like beach cleans, rockpool rambles or guided walks. We might have 50 or 60 people on the beach with us, all hoping to see a spider crab or a starfish. Last week we had 83 children with us from a local school, so we were extremely busy! We have a small all-terrain buggy which is how we get around the beach and the dunes and we regularly drive around to pick up litter and check that all is well in the locality.
Rosie: Daily beach cleans and delivering Rockpool Ramble sessions to families or guided walks through the dunes of Woolacombe Beach plus a bit of footpath maintenance.
Myles: We have many daily checks we carry out such as beach cleans, checking the dunes and fences for damage but alongside this we host many engagement events and conservation work to conserve our environment and encourage others to love and enjoy our amazing coastline.
Why did you choose to come and work for North Devon National Trust?
Gudrun: When I moved to Woolacombe, I was completely taken with how beautiful our coastline is. I realised that the National Trust looked after much of it and I immediately wanted to be involved. I became a regular volunteer helping the rangers in their work, and finally, I applied to be a beach ranger. I have a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from Birmingham and have run my own desk-bound business for 20 something years. Being a beach ranger has given me the opportunity to do something completely different with my time, enjoy the outdoors, meet the holiday-going public and get closer to the wildlife I love.
Rosie: Stunning views, great wildlife and getting the chance to ‘rockpool’ for a living’.
Myles: It is an great opportunity to gain experience, when working with AONB last year I saw the amazing work they did and wanted to join. I especially wanted to work in North Devon because I have lived here my whole life and love our coastline and the Woolacombe area.
An important part of your job is spreading the message about plastic pollution on our beaches – what’s the strangest thing you’ve found washed up on the sand?
Gudrun: The most puzzling find for me was when hundreds of small plastic bottles washed up on Woolacombe Beach each labelled ‘height enhancer’. I have no idea where they came from or how they got into the sea. And I have not idea if they really did enhance height as they were all empty!
Rosie: A tiny witches broomstick from a container spill (millions of pieces of a well known plastic brick building toy) in 1997.
Myles: I was very interested by a piece of marine litter known as a Hooksett disk which we found on Woolacombe beach recently, and my colleague Gudrun explained that the disk was most likely from a treatment works in America from 2011 where they accidentally released 4 million disks. Finding something like this which has only just washed up on our beach after 7 years and has traveled from America just amazes me.
When you’re not working, where’s your favourite place to explore in North Devon?
Gudrun: I love the rockpools of Lee – a great place to while away an afternoon looking at the incredible creatures that live there.
Rosie: Lee Bay and discovering all the little coves along this stretch of coast.
Myles: Rockpools all along the North Devon coast fascinate me as well as snorkelling off the coast. My favourite beach is Barricane as I spent many years on the beach when growing up. Now with my new-found knowledge of the coast from my work and education, it fascinates me even more to explore the rockpools and look at the biodiversity.
Our lovely beach rangers will be running a guided ‘Walk with a Ranger’ every Tuesday and Thursday in August. Why not join them for a walk around the Woolacombe sand dunes and learn more about its unusual wildlife and history?
To find out more and to book: bit.ly/beachrangerwalk