Ways to Help the Mendip Hills AONB

Sammy Fraser is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Blackdown Hills, all nationally protected as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. She will be working with each AONB team to help people get involved in these special areas

This is a great example of the three AONBs in Somerset working together for the environment and for the community. Sammy will work two days a week in the Mendip and Quantock Hills and then one day a week in the Blackdown Hills.

Introducing Tom Pope, our New Work Placement

We are delighted to introduce our latest volunteer, Tom Pope who has joined us from Cannington.  Tom is required to complete a 160 hour work placement during the first year of his Countryside Management course and will be with us for one day a week learning about the role of the AONB unit.  He will take part in practical tasks as well as a variety of office duties.  Tom will be giving an insight into what he’s been doing through a regular blog, here’s what he’s been up to in his first 2 weeks:

My name is Tom Pope and I am currently volunteering at Mendip Hills AONB as part of my work placement for my college course at Cannington doing level 3 Countryside Management. I was born and grew up in Wrington which is a small village a couple of miles from the Mendip Hills. I have always been acquainted with the countryside and have had a genuine interest in it since I was young, as I am fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by it. Growing up I was part of the Scouts and thoroughly enjoyed my time there as many of the activities were out in the surrounding areas largely including the Mendip Hills. I completed many activities’ that got me further acquainted with the outdoors including the Ten Tors. These were all factors in my final decision to start doing the course that I do. I started the course in September and have been enjoying it ever since. The course is very broad and covers nearly every aspect of countryside management; it ranges from estate management to ecology and the conservation of animal species. For the course I have to complete 160 hours of work placement in the first year and then another 160 in the second year. I feel that working at the Mendip Hills AONB will be beneficial as they also cover a wide range of conservation and countryside skills which will further improve my knowledge of this area.

So far at my time with the Mendip Hills AONB I have helped with a task in Burrington with a group of the regular volunteers. This consisted of dead hedging on the tops of Burrington Combe. Dead hedging is where branches and brush are collected and used to create a form of barrier or artificial hedge. This was to stop the cattle getting down onto the road and potentially injuring or killing themselves. The task started by collecting branches and brush from the surrounding areas and then laying it along the path down to the car park to stop the cattle getting down through the wooded area. In succession to that the volunteers plan creating a sliding gate along the path to further impede the cattle from getting onto the road. When we believed a sufficient job had been done we collected up the tools and headed back up to the offices.

Today I have been helping with some of the management of the tools. I was labelling the tools with blue tape so that they would be easier to distinguish from tools used by other organisations when members of the team are out doing practical work. Next week I am going to be going dry stone walling with a group of volunteers.

Current volunteering opportunities are outlined below.  If there is nothing suitable for you at the moment why not sign up to our newsletter to hear about new volunteering opportunities and get other news about the AONB.

AONB Practical Task Volunteers

Our practical task volunteers carry out conservation tasks throughout the Mendip Hills AONB. No experience necessary, all instruction and tools supplied. Tasks are scheduled fortnightly on Wednesdays, 10.00am – 3.00pm. New volunteers are always welcome with a smile and tea & biscuits!

January – March 2018 Task Programme (PDF Download 170KB)

Booking is essential so we have the right amount of equipment and can contact volunteers with the latest information. If you would like further details please email to Mendip Volunteers or phone Sammy Fraser 01761 462338

AONB Events and Publicity Volunteers

Events and Publicity Volunteers represent the Mendip Hills AONB at shows and events, to provide information and advice to visitors. Volunteers will also be involved in distributing visitor leaflets and providing face to face contact with local partners and businesses. Volunteers are encouraged to put forward suggestions of events and in the development of the AONB Events Programme.

Events and Publicity Volunteer Role Outline

AONB Walk Leaders

Volunteer Walks Leaders assist the AONB Unit in promoting greater understanding of the landscapes, wildlife and heritage of the AONB through guided walks. Walks will be promoted through the AONB Events Programme and Walks Leaders are also involved in planning and developing new guided walks.

Volunteer Walks Leader Role Outline


AONB Volunteer Rangers

Our Volunteer Rangers provide a visible presence in the Mendip Hills AONB, to assist the AONB Unit in conserving, enhancing and promoting the appropriate use and enjoyment of the area. They provide a point of contact for visitors out on the ground and report back any issues to the AONB Unit.

Volunteer Ranger Role Outline


AONB Young Ranger Assistants

Our Young Ranger scheme has been running since 2005 and we have just started our 6th 2-year program with 15 new young people. The Young Rangers meet monthly on Saturdays and sessions include conservation tasks, site visits, learning about the local area and fun activities too. Assistants help in the planning and running of the scheme, therefore enthusiasm for the area and a willingness to work with teenagers is required!

Young Ranger Assistant Role Outline

Hours Contributed


Volunteer Rangers –  1,309
Practical Tasks Volunteers – 861
Volunteer Young Ranger Assistant – 91
Other groups/Individuals – 118

Volunteer Rangers – 1,121
Practical Tasks Volunteers – 829
Volunteer Young Ranger Assistant – 86
Other groups/Individuals – 100

If you are aged 18 or over and think you might be interested in one of the above volunteering roles simply email us Mendip Hills AONB, Contact Us or fill out an Application Form and Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

To find out more about volunteering in the Quantock Hills AONB or Blackdown Hills AONB you can visit Quantock Hills AONB or Blackdown Hills AONB Volunteering

Young Rangers

Young Ranger Programme 2017-18 Programme (PDF Download 199KB)

Young Rangers Abroad!

Our Young Rangers, Rebecca and Liam, went with Sammy our Volunteer Coordinator for the trip of a lifetime in July 2017 to Switzerland as part of Europarc Junior Ranger Camp and spent 5 days and nights learning about Junior Ranger programmes from 14 different countries and the work they are doing to protect their special landscapes and wildlife.

They met Junior Rangers from across Europe, took part in conservation work and learnt about how the Swiss Rangers manage their National Parks. It was a trip not to forgot and one we hope has given them the confidence to work in nature conservation in the future. A big thank you to all of the Swiss Rangers and everyone who took part.