Volunteer on the Thames Path
Volunteers perform a vital role in helping inform us of problems and helping us to maintain The Thames Path through an ongoing programme of monitoring, maintenance and improvements.
There are various opportunities for volunteers. Practical tasks include vegetation clearance, installation, and repair of signs, gates and bridges and some workshop tasks. Led by staff from the National Trails team, tasks take place most weekdays covering the Trail from its Source up to Marlow. All tools and training are provided, and the tasks are a good way to meet like-minded people.
Tasks the practical volunteer team get involved with:
Out on the Trail
In the Workshop
There are also opportunities to become a volunteer ‘monitor’ by adopting a 3-5 mile section of the Trail. Monitors walk their section at least once every 3 months and report what any issues they see to us via a dedicated website reporting system.
Volunteer practical tasks
Unfortunately we currently do not have any vacancies within our practical volunteering team.
We are looking for volunteers to adopt one of the following stretches of The Thames Path. Volunteers need to be able to walk their section to check for problems and changes once every 3 months and after extreme weather conditions, and then use our online reporting website to tell us about the issues they have seen. We particularly welcome volunteers who live or work locally to these sections because it minimises travel costs and carbon.
Please read the documents below and, if you wish to register your interest in volunteering on the Thames Path, please email us at NT.Volunteers@oxfordshire.gov.uk. We will respond to applications as soon as possible.
Another busy year out on the Trail!
Since December 2022 the practical volunteers along the Thames Path have managed to:
And the monitor volunteers have clocked up a whopping 225.5 monitoring hours already this year along the Thames Path!
On a personal note, I’ve managed to walk (with my partner on weekends) from the Source to Staines-on-Thames, about 133miles/214km along the Thames Path so far this year, only 52.1 miles/84km to finish of the trail later this year! We’ve seen some fabulous countryside and wildlife and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the rest has in store!
I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who volunteers with us at National Trails. We are so grateful you have chosen to be part of our team because, without you, we really wouldn’t be able to deliver our mission to ensure that the Trails are a place people choose to go exploring and where it is easy and enjoyable to do so.
Lucy Duerdoth, Volunteer Project Officer
The volunteers have been busy!
I think it’s been a while since I last did an update about the volunteers and their volunteering exploits along the Trail (possibly summer 2021!), but never fear we’ve been keeping ourselves very busy. So since July 2021 the practical volunteers have managed to:
And we’ve had several complements come in on social media, in response to our #FingerpostFirday’s, including this one from Claire King ‘Always a joy to see a finger post, thank you all for every post that pointed the way for me end to end this year.’
We’ve also spotted some wonderful wildlife whilst we’ve been out along the Trail, from Heron’s to Sparrowhawks to Curlew but my personal favourite was spotted whilst we were out near Dorchester – the (not so) Common Clubtail Dragonfly! A stunning dragonfly that this stretch of the Thames Path is renowned for, near Little Wittenham Woods this as it lives most of the time in tree canopy.
Since last summer (July 2021) we have welcomed 19 new volunteers to our Thames Path monitoring family, and a couple of those have also signed up for helping out on our practical tasks too! This means that at the time of writing this we currently have no vacant monitoring sections along the Thames Path, which I think is a first in some time along the Trail.
The monitors have also been busy clocking up the hours too whilst out monitoring:
Our monitors reports are crucial for all our work, not least as they help direct where we need to spend our time with the practical volunteers or contractors as well as our funding, so please do keep those reports coming in. In particular this time of year paying attention to surface areas that are muddy, as well as the usual things you keep us up-to-date on:
If you can attach photos of the issues to your CAMS Web issue reports, then it really does help us gain better insight. And don’t forget to fill in a ‘Section Report’ once you’ve monitored your entire section. As this tells us the section has been checked for issues in a given quarter and gives us an overview of whether or not you found any issues, the date you completed the entire section and how much time you spent on the Trail monitoring the section. (This also let us know that you are still actively monitoring.)
Following on from feedback from volunteer monitors, who let me know that in past this used to happen but stopped a while back. I will start sending out quarterly monitoring reminders by email (January, April, July & October) – just a quick little email to say a new quarter has begun and don’t forget to get out and check your section!
Change of details
Have you moved address since you started volunteering with National Trails? Or updated your phone or email contact details? To help us to keep in touch with you and send you any materials relevant to volunteering (as well as to thank you), it’s important that we have your up-to-date information. Email NT.Volunteers@Oxfordshire.gov.uk any changes
Finally, I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who volunteers with us at National Trails. We are so grateful you have chosen to be part of our team because, without you, we really wouldn’t be able to deliver our mission to ensure that the Trails are a place people choose to go exploring and where it is easy and enjoyable to do so.
Lucy Duerdoth, Volunteer Project Officer
Mark Robbins has volunteered for the Thames Path and The Ridgeway National Trails for the past 25 years, and we wanted to find out more about his experience of working on the Trails and what it has meant - and still means - to him.
‘It was a spur of the moment thing. I was walking in the Uffington Fort on The Ridgeway – a lovely day on the Berkshire Downs, and as I was coming down the slope towards the Vale of the White Horse I saw tacked to a gatepost a notice that read ‘Do you want to volunteer for the Trail’ with a phone number. I’d just gone freelance and was enjoying life so much more. It was my first step into the world of volunteering and this became a significant part of my life. It pointed towards a future direction with volunteering and eventually would lead me to setting up my own charity. Now I’m full time charity manager for The Freshwater Foundation giving out small amounts of money to small community and charity groups – helping them to start up or help established groups develop successfully.
So, there were ripples from that original step into volunteering that have made an impact on Mark’s life. Mark remembers his very first task which was at Kelmscott on the Thames Path on a horrible, cold, grey and damp late November day. The task was to install a heavy old wooden kissing gate, this would be around the beginning of the Thames Path’s life as a National Trail in 1996. Despite the weather Mark returned for a second task, this time brush cutting at Sonning Lock – this was a lot more enjoyable.
‘ I love the Chilterns and the Thames and I’d done a lot of walking in those areas so the associations were very special. Whitchurch and Goring with lovely views over the Thames Valley and the Vale of the White Horse. There was the idea of giving something back.
The good hard physical labour – and satisfaction of a job well done – combatting the huge growth overwhelming the path, man versus nature! The camaraderie… everybody working really hard – and having a really good time’.
‘Since I started it has become more mechanised – using pole saws and brush cutters I have become more mechanically minded. When I first started I remember we’d had a workshop and on the Sunday I broke not 1, or 2 but 3 pieces of equipment.. then I was put to doing plain creosoting!
I’ve taught computer science and data analysis – and I’ve used these skills to work on analysing National Trail web audiences to help inform the advertising strategies of the Trails.
Behind the hard work it is the true public spirit – people who care about putting something back- those are the sort of people I like the most. Being among ‘the public of spirit but light of heart -that’s something that’s increased over the years.’