A Ranger’s work does not stop at the end of summer, there’s lots to be done during the shorter winter days

Logo: The Highland Council Ranger Service
A man in a fur trimmed parker taking a selfie in the snow
Ranger Gregor (Highland Council)

Gregor is an Access Ranger for the Highland Council and for the last three years has worked across Torridon, Applecross Peninsula and Strathcarron in Wester Ross.

Like the seasons the role varies greatly between summer season and winter months. In summer, the main focus is welcoming the tens of thousands of mainly vehicle based visitors with an emphasis is on education and greater awareness and understanding of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This brings a lot of associated issues with informal camping, fires, litter, outdoor toileting and parking.

In winter, the main focus turns to site maintenance, repair, recovery and regeneration from the heavy footfall of the busier summer months. In particular “hotspot” areas, the Winter Rangers haveworked to create a Location Action Plan with local communities to try to help alleviate some of the pressures caused by the volume of visitors. This can be renewal of existing infrastructure or recommendations for new infrastructure and funding sources as well as looking at existing parking measures and improved signage.

A collage of images of a wooden bridge being built
(Highland Council)

In addition to The Highland Council’s own sites such as picnic areas, car parks, laybys, roads and verges as roads authority, The Highland Council take responsibility for ensuring that a series of adopted core paths are regularly inspected, that they are clearly marked, obstacle free and where possible, in good state of repair. Some of these are within rural villages but many include quite remote mountain footpaths particularly in Torridon and The Applecross peninsula. Maintenance is often undertaken by the landowner for example the National Trust for Scotland, John Muir Trust, private landowners or even crofters via their grazings committees. In some circumstances The Highland Council will work in partnership with the relevant land manager and other agencies to get a particular path repaired or improved.

A new wooden bridge across a rocky gorge
The new Craig Gorge Bridge (Annie Macdonald Photography – Applecross)

Gregor says: One of my favourite winter season projects was to replace an old and dangerous bridge on the core path from Diabaig at the entrance of Loch Torridon to Red Point in Wester Ross. The bridge has been washed away numerous times in its history due to spring snow melt or increasingly mild winters and flash floods.

My work as an Access Ranger means I know many of the land managers in the area and my volunteering as a member of Torridon Mountain Rescue team and being a maintenance organiser for the Mountain Bothy Association meant I could call on a team of volunteers to help get materials to this remote location by boat and carrying the timber up to the site of the bridge by Craig Bothy (formerly Craig Youth Hostel). A young joiner from the team was keen to help as a keen climber and hillwaker. The Bridge was built above the Craig River gorge to budget and on time and with only one hexagonal drill bit! (Screwfix don’t deliver to such locations!)

A new plaque recognises the work and efforts of the group of volunteers from Torridon Mountain Rescue team, the Mountain Bothy Association, the Diabaig estate and local residents.

Find out more about the work of the Ranger Service here.

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Posted On: 24/11/2023

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