The Joys of volunteering

There is something very rewarding about getting involved in practical maintenance activities. Not only are you getting out in the fresh air, supporting your local community, but you are also working up a sweat keeping yourself fit and active.

I’ve worked closely with volunteers for many years improving our Public Rights of Way network. The joy of digging numerous holes to install path furniture and clearing back overgrown vegetation - nothing beats looking at the result at the end of the day and saying I helped achieve this! A shiny new gate stands in place of a rickety stile, a new footbridge stands proudly over a water course or a once impenetrable path now welcomes users rather then deterring them. The day gets even better when you meet local walkers, cyclists or riders who appreciate your hard work.

I’m extremely fortunate to be able to work with Ramblers Cymru’s volunteers in such beautiful locations around Wales. The value and satisfaction of working in a team is immense. That much needed tea break, where you put the world to right can never be underestimated. Every day I’m inspired and enthused by Ramblers volunteers, in their commitment and dedication to improving Public Rights of Way.

I recently supported a Ramblers Cymru volunteer group working with Ceredigion County Council. Together we repaired a footbridge in Salem on a path tucked away in a beautiful valley. These volunteers carry out tasks on a weekly basis, making a huge contribution to their local community. There are so many groups in Wales making improvements to our path network – tirelessly giving up there time to make the countryside more accessible to the public.

All contributions to keeping paths open are important – its amazing how just keeping stiles, gates and signage clear of vegetation makes a huge difference to people’s experience of walking. Sometimes the work is hard – carrying materials and tools to site, digging through solid ground to install a post or fighting brambles as you clear a path. Sometimes mechanical equipment can help reduce the work, but in some cases it’s not suitable for the task or area. This is where the saying ‘many hands make light work’ comes into play. Working as a team achieves so much, and so does working safely. Ensuring the correct training, health and safety and if relevant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn is vital for a successful path maintenance activity. 

If you fancy a new challenge, I encourage you to contact your local Ramblers Group to find out how you can get involved with your local practical maintenance team.