When walking a National Trail, do you ever think who collects litter, replaces damaged waymark roundels, cuts back overhanging undergrowth and so on? Perhaps you think it’s the National Trail Officer? Perhaps one of their team. Or maybe you just think it’s someone else.
In the case of Glyndŵr’s Way National Trail it’s not Helen Tatchell, the trail officer. With GW zig-zagging across Mid Wales for 135 miles, Helen and her staff of, er, none, have plenty to do surveying, negotiating Rights of Way, completing legal paperwork, working with contractors, undertaking promotion and attending regular Powys Countryside Services and Outdoor Recreation team meetings.
Helen has, like other National Trail Officers, recruited volunteer Path Wardens to help with (light) maintenance. My wife, Dorothy (it’s a safety requirement to work in pairs) and I are path wardens for a 7-mile length of GW. Conveniently, we live in a village about in the middle of ‘our’ section of the Way.
We are the ‘someone else’ who collect litter, clear broken branches, cut back encroaching plants and trees and replace damaged or missing waymarks. We also report to Helen broken gates, fallen logs and missing finger posts – so she can engage contractors to do the work.
To have ‘ownership’ (although, sadly, we’re not allowed to charge a toll) of part of a National Trail is (surprisingly?) satisfying. The rewards are perhaps similar to maintaining a tidy garden but on a larger (for most of us anyway), scale. Indeed, if you can maintain a garden reasonably well, you have all the skills necessary to be a path warden.
Equipment and safety gear are provided and we claim mileage expenses – although not much motorised travelling is involved. We submit a brief report to Helen four times a year.
There are vacancies for wardens on Glyndŵr’s Way – contact Helen Tatchell on firstname.lastname@example.org. To enquire about volunteering opportunities on other National Trails in England and Wales use the Contact form here