The National Trails Volunteer Scheme

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.

We currently have vacancies for Thames Path National Trail monitors at the following locations:

Section 8: Cricklade to Water Eaton House

Section 31: Culham Lock to Clifton Hampden Bridge

Section 56: Penton Hook Lock to Chertsey Bridge

Section 60: Hampton Court Bridge to Kingston Bridge

Interested? Drop us an email to find out more!

Volunteering Opportunities

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 – Practical

  • Mowing –  Turn up and we’ll supply the mowers.
  • Strimming and brush cutting – Using Stihl brushcutters in the areas where we can’t use the mowers.
  • Scrub clearance – Using hand tools to trim back hedges, and hedge trimmers for areas that are overhanging.
  • Installing new gates – Replacing the towpath gates when they reach the end of their lives on the river bank.
  • Signage works – Installing new oak waymarking posts and signposts that have been damaged.

In the Workshop

  • Woodworking – Help make our information boards and our signposts.
  • Machine maintenance – Help us repair and service all our mowers, brushcutters and hedge trimmers.

Out on the Trail – Monitoring

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 after extreme weather conditions and report what any issues they see to us via a dedicated website reporting system. We particularly welcome volunteers who live or work locally to these sections because it minimises travel costs and carbon.

Find out more about what volunteers do. 




Please read the documents below and, if you wish to register your interest in volunteering on the Thames Path, please email us at We will respond to applications as soon as possible.


Ridgeway and Thames Path Volunteer Application Form 2022

Ridgeway and Thames Path prospective volunteer – what to expect leaflet

Volunteer Project Officers blog 2023

Another busy year out on the Trail!

Since December 2022 the practical volunteers along the Thames Path have managed to:

  • Clear 3 fallen trees from across the Trail
  • Make (at our workshop) 12 replacement green oak fingerposts – so far 7 have been installed (including 2 at Hambleden Lock) the rest are ready and waiting for installation.
  • Mow 37,416 meters or 37.4 km (!) of soft vegetation during this spring/summer

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

Volunteer Project Officers blog 2022

The volunteers have been busy!

Practical volunteering

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:

  • Clear 10 fallen trees from across the Thames Path
  •  Make (at our workshop by volunteers) and install 27 replacement green oak fingerpost

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.’

  • Mow 62,182 meters of soft vegetation during last summer and this spring/summer
  • Carry out 22,308 meters of maintenance clearance works (cutting back brambles) during last and this autumn
  • Cut back 4,664 meters of hard vegetation or scrub clearance during last and this winter so far
  • Installed 19 waymarker posts, 4 gates and repaired 6 signs
  • And plant 170 trees at the River of Life II Earth Trust project alongside the Thames

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.

Volunteer monitoring

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:

  • July to December 2021
    • 70.5 monitoring hrs
  • January to December 2022
    • 238 monitoring hrs

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:

  • riverbanks that have eroded
  • vegetation management
  • as well as our trails furniture – missing signage, gates and bridges that need attention.

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 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

Volunteer for the Trail for 25 years

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.

Firstly, we asked him how he became a Trails volunteer:

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.

Why did he continue to volunteer?

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’.

Volunteering can set challenges with new skills to acquire, there have been changes to adapt to….

‘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!

…and the opportunity to use existing individual strengths:

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.

The National Trail Volunteers winning The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, (in June 2020) the equivalent of an MBE, is a source of great pride to Mark. So, after 25 years, does Mark still enjoy volunteering?

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.’

Thank you Mark from the Trails Team for all your work on keeping the Trail a pleasure to walk for all.

Links News page and Freshwater Charity