Volunteer Ranger Training Day, 12th October 2014.
We all met up at the Charterhouse Centre and having nearly ended up being entered into the Mendip Muddle (running race) we escaped by jumping into the minibus and headed over to Ebbor Gorge.
One site the volunteers do visit regularly is Deer Leap so Ebbor Gorge is only a stone’s throw away, but couldn’t be more different. The Gorge and surrounding 150 acre site was donated to the National Trust in the 1960s but is managed by Natural England as a National Nature Reserve. We were very fortunate to meet Simon Clarke from NE who guided us round the reserve, explaining the significance of the history, geology and biology of the area. For a number of us it was our first visit to this fascinating site, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. If you haven’t been yet, definitely go – we enjoyed clambering through its stunning gorge that feels like you’ve stepped back in time and the view point is certainly worth climbing the hill for.
From there it was onto our lunch stop at King’s Wood before meeting National Trust Ranger Hayley Dorrington and a couple of her volunteers who lead us up through the woods onto Wavering Down. It was great to be joined by the volunteers as they are doing a very similar role to our Volunteer Rangers. Hayley explained about the different ‘user groups’ on the site and how best to manage an area that many people enjoy for different reasons. By this point there was quite a nip in the air and we appreciated the trudge up the hill to warm up. Once onto Wavering Down we came across a large group of Duke of Edinburgh students pitching their tents. Having spoken to the group we found out that they weren’t staying but just practising their tent pitching skills!
We had a pretty blustery day for it, but the rain held off and we were rewarded with great views from the trig point before heading back down the hill to the bus.
Many thanks to Simon, Hayley and the volunteers for being our tour guides for the day, for showing us round and explaining what is involved in managing the sites.
If you are interested in getting involved in the Mendip Hills AONB as a volunteer, have a look at our Volunteering page.