Quay Assistant takes to the water with Lakes Rangers

Christon Illiffe, Broads Authority Quay Assistant, recently had the chance to leave Norwich Yacht Station behind and visit the Lake District National Park Authority through the Society for National Parks (SNPS) job shadowing scheme. Read on for Christon's journal of his visit.

christon driving boat

Having worked in the Broads for five seasons and being an avid lover of the hills, when I was given the chance to job-shadow the Lake District Rangers on Windermere I really couldn’t pass up on the opportunity…

It was a long and wet drive from the flatness of Norfolk to rugged Cumbria on a wet October’s day, however I finally arrived in the Lake District National Park; a place where I had spent many a day climbing the majestic fells and exploring the beautiful landscapes.

Upon my arrival in Bowness-on-Windermere, I was introduced to Jack, one of the seasonal Rangers who works on the Lakes for 10 months a year. Jack explained to me the different areas that the Rangers cover, and I was fascinated to learn that out of 16 lakes and tarns, only five of them allow boats and therefore need to be managed by the LDNPA (Lake District National Park Authority). We then had the chance to take to the water in their Cheetah patrol catamaran, and we had a long conversation of comparing and contrasting our experiences of helping tourists and visitors both off and on the water.

christon lakes boat

The next day I was given the opportunity to shadow Alec, another seasonal Lake Ranger. He had only been with the LDNPA for seven weeks, yet was already a great example of the professionalism required to deal with the public when you’re on the water as the face of the Authority every day. Alec was tasked with taking me out on the launch to the southern part of Lake Windermere, where I learned more about how land and home owners interact with the lake itself and how different parts of the lake are owned and controlled by different bodies/landowners.

In the afternoon we visited the new Ullswater Visitor Centre in Glenridding, before driving to Ullswater itself and heading out on another patrol on the water. It was particularly interesting to learn more about how craft registration works in the Lake District and how it drastically differs to the processes and procedures that we use here in the Broads.

christon lakes

On the final day of my trip I had the privilege of meeting Head Ranger Ronny, who is in charge of the team throughout the season. We chatted about the differences between our parks, particularly focusing on the different byelaws in each area and the Rangers’ powers to enforce them. I also had a chance to visit the Head Office in Kendal and meet some more enthusiastic members of the LDNPA staff, including their Communications Team of which I am a part of at the Broads Authority.

I was only in the Lake District for three days, however the trip opened my eyes in an enormous number of ways. I discovered that not only are there lots of differences between our two parks, but there are many similarities in the challenges that we both face. 

Much like an actual family, we are able to share our different knowledge, skills and best practice to help each other out. I certainly feel inspired to learn more about my own park, and I know that the next time I visit the Lake District to go hill-walking I’ll fully appreciate the important work undertaken by the Lake Rangers and the rest of the LDNPA staff to look after this truly amazing landscape.

Membership of SNPS is one of the benefits of working for the Broads Authority. It offers National Parks staff a number of opportunities for professional development, including visits to other protected landscapes for job shadowing, specialised study tours to learn more about National Parks and even social events to be enjoyed with colleagues in their own areas. 

If you are interested, please visit our careers page to view current job vacancies and read our working for us page to learn more about life working for a National Park.

Tuesday 26 November 2019