A day in the life of a countryside ranger apprentice

I'm Lydia and I work as an apprentice ranger in the Countryside Access team. My work is very flexible with a lot of practical on-site work but also some time desk-based. I absolutely love being hands-on and keep fit and healthy through the practical work that I do.

A lot of my work is reactive, responding to issues and incidents reported by members of the public that they find when they're out exploring Surrey's public rights of way network. Most days I like to be out there fixing things and being the boots on the ground, but I also could be project managing, running volunteer tasks and liaising with landowners.

As each day varies, it's important I stay organised, but a typical day can look like this:

  • 8am - I like to get to the office early to check if any reports have come in from the day before. Any issues regarding health and safety are prioritised and will need to go to the top of the queue. Then it's off out on site with all the necessary tools for the day, which could be anywhere across Surrey so I've got to know the county quite well.
  • 9.45am - On site, I'll have my risk assessment to hand and run through a quick brief with the group before we get started. I like to spend the morning tackling practical tasks, punctuated with breaks to refuel myself and our volunteers. There's a great variety of tasks – it could be clearing an overgrown path to open it up; repairing a stile or maybe removing it and installing a kissing gate to create greater access for different users; or resurfacing short sections of path - to mention just a few.
    Most tasks are completed by early afternoon so I'll head back to the depot to clean down the tools and pack them away for another day. Then it's back indoors to close off the issue that we've solved – that's the most satisfying bit. I then identify the next practical task, carry out all the necessary checks making sure we've received permissions needed before we can plan what's coming up next. I've learnt that preparation is 80% of the job.
  • 4pm - My work day is usually done and I'm heading home. I simply love what I do. It's problem solving which has positive effects on communities and to be outside in nature just makes me feel so good. I would definitely say I'm very lucky that I can do what I do. I've met some really interesting people and seen the passion that volunteer groups have for conserving our countryside. My apprenticeship with the team is due to come to an end in spring 2025. Who knows what the future holds for me but whatever it is I will have gained a huge amount of experience both practical and office-based to take me into the future.

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