In today’s post we’ve asked Trossachs National Park Estate Ranger Jenny Paterson for some input on what her job involves. Over to you Jenny!
What Do You Do As The Estate Ranger?
There is rarely a “typical” day which is one of the things I love most about my job. I am employed on an annualised hours contract, which means over the year I work a 40 hour week on average, however the start / finish times depend on the season. For example, during the summer months I will start at 6am and finish at 3.30pm; sometimes there may be a reason to work late, which could mean up to 10pm. In the winter I might start work at 8am, so really it just depends on the time of year.
An Example of My Working Day During The Summer Months Could Be…
I’m often relied on to assist the green keepers with the daily “set-up” on the golf course, so I would normally walk round checking and raking bunkers for the first couple of hours. After that I will empty the rubbish bins on the public right of way path, followed by a quick check to ensure there are no brambles encroaching on the path. Every couple of weeks I will take a trimmer or a brush cutter out and tidy up the path edges so that any cyclists or walkers can enjoy a “snag-free” excursion!
Next I will head up to The Enchanted Wood (situated north of The Clubhouse) and walk round conducting a visual inspection of the path and the trees. My background in forestry means that I am very conscientious when it comes to tree safety, especially in high-recreation areas. Once I’m happy with this I will set about working in the wood. This could be a variety of tasks; creating new features, clearing scrub, or felling trees. There is lots to do!
We take our lunch break at 11.30am and in the afternoon I will either head back up to the wood, catch up with paperwork at my desk, or do some woodwork in my workshop.
What Do You Like Most About Your Job?
As I mentioned before, I love the variety of work that I do. I absolutely love working outdoors, and being close to nature in such a beautiful setting makes me feel extremely privileged.
How Did You Become An Estate Ranger?
I was born in Borneo, to Scottish parents who decided to sample life in South East Asia in the 1970s. Growing up I would say I was fairly adventurous. I was very sporty at school and also loved outdoor pursuits, however I somehow ended up with a degree in English Literature and Sociology, and then spent 5 years working in administration for Investment Products! In 2009 I decided to embark on a volunteering expedition to South Africa, where I lived and worked on a Game Reserve for six weeks. It was then that I realised I should be working outdoors, so I took the first steps to achieve that goal which was to go back to education and change career. After 2 years at Elmwood College in Cupar I obtained an HND in Countryside Management, and was subsequently one of 5 successful candidates out of 850 applicants to be selected into the Forestry Commission Apprenticeship scheme. Whilst at college I had a number of part-time jobs which included a Park Ranger at The Scottish Deer Centre in Cupar. I was also a volunteer Coastguard based in St. Andrews, a farm hand, and I managed to squeeze in some occasional bar shifts at my local pub.
I spent two years with Forestry Commission Scotland in Aberfoyle learning all about Forestry, and this included obtaining various other qualifications in Chainsaws, pesticide spraying, brush cutter and trimmers, to name but a few. The end of my apprenticeship resulted in a full-time role based in Mabie Forest, Dumfries, where I was based for 18 months before joining the team at Cameron House Hotel.
What is Your Biggest Achievement Since Joining The Team?
The main project I have been working on, and am also extremely proud of, is The Enchanted Wood (known locally as Faerie Wood). I was tasked with enhancing an often flooded and overgrown area of woodland situated north of The Clubhouse, tucked in between the 17th tee and the 18th green, and other than retaining the enchanted theme, I was pretty much given free reign to come up with the whole design. Historically this woodland was used for leading children’s activities, but for various reasons became dis-used and nature took over. My goal was to create a wonderful educational and sensory resource for visitors as well as guests, whilst also providing food and habitat for a variety of woodland species such as birds, bats, butterflies, bees, and amphibians.
My first task was to clamber in (literally) to see what I was dealing with, which was a challenge in itself due to the volume of scrub and brambles! Slowly but surely I cleared what was to become the path layout, and began the design of the sensory garden. All the materials I used in the construction of the garden are recycled. Where safety issues deemed it necessary, I felled trees and used the timber to create the “Living Log Wall”. I collected deadwood and used it to create mini beast habitat as well as some “enchanted” features. I took Willow cuttings from neighbouring plants, and I collected rocks from a nearby riverbed to create my herb garden.
My colleague and Head Green Keeper Paul McLearn assisted with excavating two areas which I subsequently lined and filled with water, and I have recently sown grass seed as well as a mixture of wetland wild flower seeds. I am very excited to see the progress of the ponds and next year they will be buzzing with activity!
The most recent job has been to lay the all-abilities path. One of my wishes for the woodland was that it could be used and enjoyed by everyone, and to achieve that meant installing a suitable path. I am extremely passionate about our natural heritage, and my wish is for everyone to be able to access and enjoy it. It is my hope that the woodland will be a place of serenity and beauty; full of life and colour and abundant in all species.
What is Special About The Trossachs National Park?
There is no denying that Loch Lomond is an absolutely breath-taking place to visit. I never get bored of the view, the sounds of bird-song, the sight of brown hares lolloping about first thing in the morning; I even love the geese that cause so many headaches for the green keepers! This time of year is also particularly special with the onset of spring and summer just around the corner. The different shades of green around the estate are simply beautiful, and while some of us may not like the wet weather we often get, the results are very much worth it.