A Volunteers life: Revetment to improve footpaths

On a rainy day in October it was brought to our attention that a section of pathway down to Heddon’s Mouth was slipping away into the river.

Ranger Daniel Cameron, volunteer ranger Tom and myself loaded up the work vehicle with mattocks, shovels, an iron bar and a wheel barrow as well as a chainsaw (and appropriate PPE) to re-sure the pathway.

In keeping with previous work we used the trunk of a tree for the revetment, utilising the natural curves of tree and path,  packing any holes with stones and finally widening the path by taking soil from the landward edge and packing it up against the revetment to form a bank.


The result was a continuation of the wide, flat footpath down to the beach.

Now for a little bit about myself: I started to volunteer with the team in West Exmoor in July, after spending four years studying Environmental Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh. Despite greatly enjoying my course I missed being outdoors as it was a very theory and lab based degree. This led me to apply for the six month placement in North Devon carrying out practical conservation tasks.

 In the three months I have spent here so far I have learnt so much – from practical tasks such as pathway improvements, repairing steps, ditching, stock fencing and putting up sign posts, to flora and fauna identification and public engagement. This has been alongside many formal training opportunities such as felling and crosscutting using a chain saw, ATV (quad bikes), 4X4 experience, tractor driving and First Aid. I am also enrolled on a Diploma in Work-Based Environmental  Conservation.

I feel very lucky to be having this experience!

Fi – Volunteer Ranger

3 responses to “A Volunteers life: Revetment to improve footpaths

  1. Great blog Fi!

    I was on this path a few days ago and took photos from exactly where the path has been repaired. I was so busy enjoying the view that I didn’t even notice the condition of the path – good job the rangers are on the ball!

  2. Walking from Countisbury to Watersmeet last week reminded me of just how much hard work goes into keeping the paths passable and safe. Like you, Fi, I did footpath repair voluntary work. After that I changed my desk job for an outdoor one (now twenty years ago) and have never regretted it for one moment. Good luck for the future.

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