I oversee the repairs and improvements to the rights of way network following the November 2009 floods. That means not just repairing damaged items such as bridges and path surfaces, but also enhancing the public footpath and bridleway network for the benefit of visitors, local people and communities and adapting the network to improve flood resilience against future flooding events.
Until 2005 I was employed in IT in London, which gave me project management skills. I then worked in various capacities for the National Trust. For two years I worked in the Northern Field Team on public rights of way, other access routes and open access areas and estate management. I also installed gates, stiles and bridges, woodland management and dealt with drainage and erosion problems.
The Rights Of Way network is such an important asset, used by visitors and residents alike. The funding for the work comes from organisations like Cumbria County Council and Defra. Making sure that it is all spent can sometimes be difficult to achieve, especially in winter when the weather can cause severe delays.. Fortunately we managed to spend everything we planned to spend last year. If we had underspent, then that amount would be lost as would be the opportunities for maximising improvements.
Some of the best parts of the jobs is advancing and improving the methods and techniques we use. I enjoy working with colleagues, landowners and specialist architects and engineers to create new bridges that improve accessibility and flood resilience. That could mean where old timber bridge was washed away the new bridge is built with raised abutments, steel beams and wider recycled plastic decking to create a route accessible to many.
Spending too much time in front of the computer, writing specifications, applying for consents, monitoring spend.
Jobs here are like rocking horse manure so you need to have that extra edge. Take every opportunity that you can, volunteer, get as much experience as you can, get to know the organisations and people involved.