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Countryside ranger Willie is just one of many who work in Rothiemurchus estate and he explained the role of a ranger.
“We are here to facilitate people enjoying the countryside,” he said.
Located in the Cairngorms National Park, Rothiemurchus estate has been inhabited for 5,000 years and covers 10,000 hectares of ancient Caledonian forest and some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland.
With the estate’s recent tourist revival, as a result of increased outdoors and adventure activities, the ranger’s job is more important than ever as he helps visitors appreciate, while highlighting the importance of maintaining, the grounds.
“We welcome people here and then we try and pass some the responsibility of this beautiful place onto them and it appears to me it works very well,” he explained.
The major danger facing the forest in the summer months is the risk of fire which is a regular occurrence each year as the temperature rises. The dry undergrowth lining the forest floor can easily become ablaze.
However, man made fires are also a danger as campfires set amongst the growth can easily re-light once put out and if unattended can spread.
Visiting an abandoned fire site, Willie explained the specific dangers.
“Possibly the people had thought they put it out, but this is not the place to light a fire,” he emphasised.
“We are in among great big ancient pine trees, and if you look at what we’ve got here, we’ve got peat. That never goes out if the fire goes down the way. It could be a hundred yards away that could come up,” he added.
By educating visitors on fire-safety, the countryside rangers hope to reduce the risk of fire and ensure a safe and enjoyable stay for tourists.