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24th Feb 2022

A taste of being a ranger in the rugged and rainy North West

I am Liv from Denmark, and I moved up to Fort William from Edinburgh in January to start my ranger training with UHi. I have lived in Scotland for the last 5 ½ years, and most of those years were in Edinburgh. Coming to Fort William to train as a ranger was a choice shaped by a strong passion and desire to be at service to nature and my local environment here in Scotland.  It was also a choice which reflects my personality, someone who feels best and most at ease when outdoors, involved with a practical “hands on task”.  I love that feeling of being really tired and weathered from a long day outdoors, so I am very confident that becoming a ranger in Scotland is the perfect match for me. I also love that as a ranger you will often get the best of two worlds – involvement with nature as well as your local community. I love this balance to the job, which is also the motivation for doing this training. While I was feeling a bit like a “wounded soldier” upon arrival to the windy and wet North West, I have settled better than what I could have hoped for. There is a beautiful community up here in Fort William, and I sense that there is growing desire and proactivity to make community live in harmony with the nature – and that’s how it should be, if you asked me!

I have been doing a good bit of exploring on own hands so far. Walks around Glen Nevis, exploring the multiple paths around the Ben, Corpach Hill, and Glenfinnan. My most favourite little backyard trip takes me on the 1 mile “nature trail” here in Corpach where I live – on the trail is a little egg-box, where I always get my fresh and free-range eggs from – the yolks are as orange as I remember they should be, from my own childhood chickens’ eggs.

While there is so much to be looking forward to on this course, I must include a few words about our most recent activities up at Loch Arkaig. The drive up there is such a pleasure in itself, and I am extremely envious of the locals who live their daily lives there.  This week we have been helping out with putting up new raised beds for the little woodland community, in partnership with folks from Arkaig Community Forest. We got to know about the near-future plan of setting up a deer larder, as well as a polytunnel, in order to provide a local community supply of venison and fresh vegetables and also to help with growing locally provenanced trees for conservation planting. It was so refreshing to be able to be a part of this, and I honestly enjoyed every moment of getting my hands dirty, moving soil around, and learning how to build the new raised beds.

 If I was to have a religion it would be this: growing food for the local community – so it is extremely hopeful and inspiring to know that this is in fact taking place, around the corner from Fort William down-town.  I hope to follow this project as it expands, and who knows, maybe I will be lucky enough to get a seasonal ranger post up there one day. I will for sure let that dream continue on.

Thank you for taking the time to read a bit about myself and my experiences here in Fort William, and do come say hi if you ever see me rangering around!