Path Watchers: Shortlisted for the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector Awards 2016

The efforts of a dedicated group of volunteers who help look after Exmoor’s rights of way, have been recognised after being shortlisted for the Campaign for National Parks Park Protector Awards 2016.

Park Protector Awards recognise, reward and celebrate exceptional projects or individuals that have made a lasting contribution to the protection, restoration or conservation of the National Parks of England and Wales. The awards are open to groups or individuals who are delivering projects, campaigns, or activities in one or more of the National Parks in England and Wales and the prize is a £2000 bursary to develop the project.

The volunteer Path Watcher’s scheme was set up by staff from Exmoor National Park Authority’s Access and Recreation Team and plays a vital role in ensuring Exmoor’s paths are well cared for and that any issues are reported and resolved quickly. To date the 12 volunteers covering 15 parishes have surveyed over 300km of paths. The benefits to the community are enormous making paths easily navigable for everyone in the local community and visitors alike, ensuring hazards or dangers are reported swiftly to the authority’s Field Services Team. Path Watchers report, refresh way-marks and carry out minor repairs to gates and signs. They also receive ongoing training day for their role and recently got to learn more about all-terrain mobility Trampers which helped them understand more about issues particular to individuals with limited mobility.

National Park rights of way support officer, Ceri Rapsey, who helps coordinate the volunteer Path Watchers says, “they are so passionate about making Exmoor’s rights of way the best in the UK and are constantly thinking of innovative ways of improving their surveying and maintaining rights of way for the enjoyment of others.  We’re thrilled their enthusiasm and dedication has been recognised.”

Results will be announced soon and the winner will be invited to attend the award ceremony at the House of Commons in October 2016.

Jackie Kiberd, Project Coordinator for Get Involved at Exmoor National Park Authority said “Path Watchers has proved an incredibly successful scheme and although we’re not looking for additional Path Watchers just now, there are many other ways in which people can get involved across Exmoor.

“Volunteering is fun, it’s a great way to meet new people and learn new skills. We advertise a whole suite of opportunities on the Get Involved pages of our web site for a wide range of organisations across Exmoor. So whether you’ve got a few hours or a few days to offer, whatever your interest, there’s something there for you.”