Our south Lakes volunteering story
Neil and Lesley Morris give their time in the great outdoors with the South Lakes Volunteering group, who meet regularly to get stuck into tasks like laying paths, hedge laying and dry stone walling. Here they tell us a bit about why they chose to volunteer for us in the Lake District and what they get out of it.
We have been members of the South Lakes National Trust Volunteers Group for over 12 months now and we’re really pleased to be given this opportunity to tell you why we joined and what we've been up to.
" We decided to get involved with the South Lakes volunteer group because we feel very privileged to live in such a beautiful part of the country and felt this was our chance to give a little something back and help preserve our National Park for future generations."
Lots of benefits
We soon realised that the role came with the added benefits of acquiring new skills, learning about the environment and meeting many interesting new people along the way. Day 1 came along and we apprehensively turned up at The National Trust’s “Basecamp”, near Hawkshead, looking a bit too clean and not quite sure what to expect and what we were letting ourselves in for. We were met by our Ranger and started the day in the best possible way, with a brew.
We were briefed about the day’s activity and soon realised that our safety was of the upmost importance as well as our enjoyment. Our first task was to repair a deer fence, protecting sensitive woodland, near Wray Castle. We were shown how to knock in fence posts, attach pig nuts to the existing fence and cut away bushes and trees. We chatted as we worked and with breaks for snacks and a lunch stop in the sun before we knew it the day was almost finished with one last, quite exciting job, to chase out any possible deer before closing the woods up. We’re sure we spotted at least one! Well, we like to think we did!
Since then we’ve enjoyed many superb days out in many varied and stunning locations. We’re now proud to say we can construct a lakeside path, re-build a dry stone wall (well, we understand how it should be done!) and know how to lay a hawthorn hedge. We’ve also helped to build the children’s adventure play area at Wray Castle and especially loved being involved with the Claife Viewing Station re-generation project.
There are still some activities we are keen to experience such as planting new trees and working higher up on the fells, maintaining the paths. The Rangers are so enthusiastic about the work they do, always explain why we are carrying out the tasks and are keen to make sure we enjoy the day and have a laugh along the way. Although the work can be quite demanding and strenuous they always make sure we work within our limits and capabilities and the days are never too long.
Working in amazing locations
The tasks are always in amazing locations and it’s always a real buzz to look up from our spades and pickaxes to see the beautiful Lakes or the Langdale Pikes and it’s always a massive reward knowing that your work has made a difference to such an amazingly beautiful landscape.
All these projects have been so worthwhile and we even get to annoy our family by proudly showing off our handy work when out on walks in the area. An added bonus is that with your Volunteer card you get free entry into National Trust properties and get 20% discount in the Trust Shops.
It would be great to see more people joining us on the volunteer days so if you fancy giving it a go remember there’s never any pressure to attend, if you're free, just answer the e-mail to say you’ll be there!
See you in the hills!
Neil & Lesley