Becoming a Volunteer Ranger

It’s no secret that I love Scotland. I’m especially fond of the changing seasons, and how each offers up a different lens to experience familiar sights and sounds anew. I’m especially fortunate to live beside Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park (Scotland’s first National Park), where recently I have been enjoying the remnants of snow-mantled mountains and fresh inklings of Springtime vigour. I think it’s an energising and inspiring time of year.

Snow on the Glen Luss mountains, photograped from Conic Hill

Snow on the Glen Luss mountains, photographed from Conic Hill

Throughout the seasons I’ve explored a lot of the National Park, on foot, bicycle, kayak, 4×4 and even seaplane. I’ve climbed many of its highest mountains and snorkelled the shorelines yet it sometimes feels like I’ve only just scratched the surface. I’ve spent several years working within it, becoming part of a community proud to be inside the National Park boundary, and I’ve enjoyed meeting many of the staff and volunteers who work hard to preserve and promote this wonderful region. I’ve become passionately protective of it’s wild wonders and when I started to contemplate volunteer work last year, I knew I wanted to get more involved.

This year, I was over the moon to have my application accepted to join the National Park team as a Volunteer Ranger. I am looking forward to getting stuck into practical conservation tasks like invasive species removal and habitat surveys, but most of all I can’t wait to get out and about welcoming visitors, hearing their stories and sharing my own passion for the places, people and wildlife across the region.

Carrochan, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park headquarters

Carrochan, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park headquarters

At my recent induction day, it was a delight to meet experienced Volunteer Rangers and hear their stories about why volunteering means so much to them, and to meet the new volunteers, all of whom had their own special reasons for choosing to offer their free time. Of course it wouldn’t be Ranger training if we didn’t get outside, and we enjoyed a walk-and-talk on the east bank of Loch Lomond, led by full-time Ranger Rob.

Ranger Rob leads the volunteers on Loch Lomondside

Ranger Rob leads the new volunteers on Loch Lomondside

The conversations were amazing, with everyone sharing stories about their favourite places in the National Park, where to see the best wildlife and (high on the agenda) where the best teashops are! Like me, many of the volunteers enjoy spending their time around Loch Lomond, Breadalbane, the Trossachs or the Cowal peninsula, and it was an education learning about some of the more personal hidden gems – I especially enjoyed hearing about some of the quieter, less well-known spots.

A fab introduction to being a Volunteer Ranger

A fab introduction to being a Volunteer Ranger

It feels very rewarding to be giving something back to this wonderful place that has given me so much joy, peace and excitement for over a decade and I’m thoroughly looking forward to viewing the National Park through an entirely different “insider” lens.

Have you been to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park? What was your most memorable experience? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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