Hi there, my name is Alice and I’m the new volunteer trainee countryside ranger here at the Bath Skyline. I have very recently moved to the area, all the way from Norfolk, to be here with the National Trust. The gorgeous rolling hills of the West Country make a wonderful change from the flatlands of East Anglia and, as I am a complete stranger to these lands, I’m thoroughly looking forward to exploring and finding out what treasures this side of the country has to offer.
I graduated with a Zoology degree in 2015 and have since been working on behalf of the Forestry Commission in Surrey surveying oak trees for an invasive moth species, the Oak Processionary moth. As I am sure you will soon come to see, I have a particular love for insects and their ecology and I have travelled as far as North East China and Western Canada in order to study and work with them. No doubt, this blog will be regularly punctuated with facts and photos of the weird and wonderful insects I come across.
As a child, growing up in rural Norfolk, I was greatly encouraged to appreciate the outdoors and I spent my free time doing things like climbing trees, building rafts and dens, and collecting frogspawn. In the school holidays, my family and I would go on wild camping trips to a field in North Norfolk where we would camp with friends in community; cooking, talking and making music around a central hearth and sharing food, skills and stories with one another. There were magical woodlands and a river on the land in which my friends and I would explore and play and a green woodworking area equipped with shaving horses and pole lathes where we learned to make wooden candlesticks, mushrooms and swords. During some of the camps, the community would carry out coppicing in the woods or work together to build eco-friendly structures on the land such as saunas, shower units or a cob roundhouse and, as kids, we were usually eager to get involved where we could. I developed a huge range of practical and social skills from and very young age and most importantly, the land provided a safe, fun and wild outdoor environment in which my brother, our friends and I (and the all the adults!) could be free to play, explore and be more interactive with nature.
All of this was an essential part in my development as a young person and in my learning to truly love and respect all living things. I continue to always be happiest when I’m outside, surrounded by wildlife in its natural habitat. I hope that by helping to facilitate the same kind of outdoor learning environments that I had as a child I can encourage the same kind of awe and excitement in others that I get from the natural world around me. I believe that it’s incredibly important for the remaining pockets of countryside we have in the UK and around the globe to be conserved, not only for the intrinsic value of nature to be respected but also so that everyone has the same access to beautiful open natural spaces that I have done throughout my life.
I am so thrilled to have finally begun my journey into countryside management and conservation. There is so much for me to learn and I can really begin to dedicate my time to building and maintaining healthy habitats for our wildlife and protecting our natural environments for future generations to enjoy. I’m very grateful to the National Trust and the team here at the Bath Skyline for giving me the opportunity to do so. I would like to share this adventure with you in stories and pictures in the hope that it will not only intrigue and entertain but also that it might inspire more people to put down their computers and smart phones, step into the wild outdoors – whether to volunteer with a conservation group, go wild camping or just go for a lovely walk – and appreciate all the beauty and wonder that nature has to offer. I hope you enjoy!