For April, I enjoyed my first volunteering activity as a Volunteer Ranger. In this role with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, I partner up with a colleague to patrol different areas of the National Park, engaging with visitors, residents and business owners, and bringing any issues to the attention of colleagues. It is a privilege to wear the uniform and to be recognised as a Ranger – visitors don’t hesitate to come up to you and ask questions, and they trust that you ill give them accurate and reliable advice. This month I enjoyed two different routes: West Loch Lomond and Cowal, and East Loch Lomond.
The Cowal route requires a vehicle as it covers almost 70 miles from the National Park headquarters down the Cowal peninsula to the west, and visits some iconic locations such as the village of Luss alongside Loch Lomond, Arrochar village which sits at the head of Loch Long beneath the “Arrochar Alps” mountains, and ultimate follows a single track road through ancient woodland beside Loch Goil to Carrick Castle.
The East Loch Lomond route, in contrast, is a walking route with various options to explore! The main objective is to patrol part of the West Highland Way, one of Scotland’s most famous long-distance walking routes, which runs beside the eastern shore of Loch Lomond and it is a lot of fun because this is a popular area of the Park with visitors from all over the world. Some of the major attractions in this area include the “wee hill with a big view”, Conic Hill, the isle of Inchailloch, and Millarochy Bay, which hosts perhaps one of the most photographed trees in the world.
I especially enjoy talking to foreign visitors because of their enthusiasm and praise for the area, it’s scenery and the hospitality of locals. It really encourages you to look with fresh eyes at surroundings you might be intimately familiar with and – sometimes – take a little for granted.
The walking routes are great exercise and a great way to get to know your fellow Rangers: when walking, conversation flows easily and, unsurprisingly, many of the volunteers are passionate about exploring the outdoors and nature, and no matterwho you are partnered up with you always learn something new. This time, I discovered that a good Ranger always brings a folding chair to relax in after a long hike!