Quantock Hills Blog

Roaming the Quantocks

- Ranger Owen has been out auditing the trails

Katy Coate

Posted by Katy Coate on 02 December 2013

Roaming the Quantocks As I write this, shortlisting for the new Quantock Ranger is taking place, so it’s possible we may have a new Ranger very soon.  If you applied for the post good luck!

Interestingly the Quantock Hills is one the few AONBs that still has Rangers, in part because of our ongoing commitment to having a direct ‘on the ground’ approach to countryside management, and also because historically they have always been a part of how the Quantock AONB functions. In the olden days (ahem!) Rangers were known as Wardens, our first Warden was Colonel Rick Stokes, who roamed the hills on horseback back in 1974. The person lucky enough to fill this new post will be only the 4th full time AONB Ranger since 1974.

I’ve been roaming the hills quite a lot lately, as it happens, but not on horseback sadly.  It is that time of year when all our promoted routes need checking for condition, whether trees are blocking paths, whether gates are functioning, are the waymarkers still there? Things like that.  You may be interested to know that the Quantocks has around 250kms (150 miles) of public rights of way. (That’s more than the distance from here to London) Fortunately for me I only audit our promoted routes, which include our circular walks at Cothelstone Hill, Hawkridge, Great Wood and Kilve and The Greenway which loops the whole of the Quantock Hills.

Somerset Rights of Way Department over see the auditing of the remaining footpaths and bridleways and rely on volunteer work for much of this.  If you come across a blocked path, or something about the paths that need reporting in the Quantocks follow this link http://www.somerset.gov.uk/irj/public/services/directory/service?rid=/guid/40054aee-0834-2c10-f197-8a92780c22ab

On a personal level, auditing these routes is one of my favourite roles. It is the perfect way to get to know all the nooks and crannies of the Quantocks and particularly at this time of year when the autumn colours are just stunning. (I was going to say ‘takes your breath away’ but in fairness that is probably the steep climb up the hill!)  I am also quite fond of munching on a foraged sweet chestnut or two as I go and can report that this year has certainly seen a bumper crop! Make sure you go see for yourself, in some ways autumn is the Quantocks at its best, but I probably say that every season.



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