I’ve had various roles within the National Park, all of which have afforded me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and care for this unique and wonderful place.
24 years ago, in 1998, I studied for a Masters in Environmental Science and the title of my dissertation was- ‘Loch Lomond and The Trossachs- Scotland’s First National Park’.
The thesis discussed the need to establish National Parks in Scotland by focusing on the development of an integrated management strategy designed to balance recreation, tourism, conservation and the socio-economic issues of the area.
Little did I know then that I would one day become one of the Rangers as I described on page 74 of my thesis as ‘the hands-on guardians of the National Park’. Sounds a bit Marvelesque now!!
In fact, since the National Park was established in 2002 it has played a huge part in my life. In 2010 I became a Practical Conservation Ranger. Tasks ranged from water vole surveys to path maintenance on Ben Lomond to beach cleans in Arrochar. One of my first practical tasks was an overnight stay on Inchcailloch counting bats at dusk and dawn. It was while eating bacon butties round the campfire in the morning that the Ranger suggested I look into joining the new Volunteer Rangers. So not long after my nocturnal antics on Inchcailloch I was suited and booted as a Volunteer Ranger (VR).
I’ve been a VR now for 10 years and have done a vast array of tasks from helping host education days to poking my nose into the less well-known places of the park. I love the interactions with the public especially when I can help make their day even more memorable. In 2014 I joined the Seasonal Ranger team for 3 consecutive seasons. This was a very varied and rewarding role and enabled me to really get to know the National Park and help support its values.
One of my most memorable shifts was when I found what I thought was a geocache box on the banks of Loch Lomond. It turned out to be a letter left by a couple who had loved their visit so much they had left a note encouraging others to write about their appreciation of the Loch. It became national news with the tag of ‘Loch Lomond Love Letters’.
So, as you can see, I’ve had various roles within the National Park, all of which have afforded me the opportunity to share my enthusiasm of and care for this unique and wonderful place.
And now- well only last year I was lucky enough to join the permanent Ranger team and here I am still waxing lyrical about the National Park in its 20th birthday year.