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Countryside - volunteers

North Yorkshire countryside volunteers is for anyone who wants to help maintain access to the countryside and support nature conservation.

Main activities on offer for volunteers

There are two types of volunteering activities:

Rights of way inspections, surveys and low-level maintenance

The volunteers are our 'eyes and ears' on the 6,000km of footpaths and bridleways that we look after. Volunteers help by inspecting reported problems on rights of way and photographing what they see. The photographs are very valuable to us as a lot of information can be conveyed in one photo. If the problem can be addressed there and then, e.g. by cutting back overgrowth around a sign, nailing down a decking board or tightening a gate hinge, we ask the volunteers to do this while they are there. Otherwise, we ask them to write a brief description, sometimes to take measurements and then send the full report with the all-important photos back to us. 

Volunteers also help by putting up notices e.g. for a diversion or a temporary closure and then removing them once they are no longer needed.

Once or twice per year we run large scale surveys of paths, or sections of paths. This may include bridge surveys, checking regrowth after strimming, or surveying the general condition of promoted walks.

We have over 100 volunteers spread around the county and requests for an inspection or survey may not come up very regularly. For each volunteer, there could be one or two in one month and then nothing at all in the next few months as it is difficult to predict where the next report will come from.

Inspections and surveys can be done at a time to suit the volunteers, including weekends. There may sometimes be a short deadline when an inspection is needed urgently - for example within a week, but usually it is quite flexible.

Conservation tasks in the Howardian Hills area of outstanding natural beauty

These task days only run in the Howardian Hills area of outstanding natural beauty area (roughly, between Easingwold, Helmsley, Malton and Sheriff Hutton). They are group tasks aimed at clearing invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam, rhododendron, bracken, and scrub to allow native species to flourish or to protect scheduled monument sites e.g. round barrows. Task days are usually on Thursdays and are mostly fortnightly. There is less activity in April and May when birds are nesting and more, often weekly, in summer when we tackle Himalayan balsam.

Getting involved

Volunteers must be 18 years or over. No experience or qualifications are necessary, as training is provided. The activities are outside in all weathers and often in remote locations away from public transport routes. Volunteers need their own transport to get to tasks, but we do encourage car-sharing depending on where volunteers live. Tools, protective equipment and reasonable travel expenses are provided. The volunteer co-ordinator is in regular contact with the volunteers and there are volunteer meetings across the county approximately once per year.

Please note: volunteers are not permitted to take dogs with them when carrying out activities for the countryside volunteers.

To find out more about joining the countryside volunteers, contact the volunteer co-ordinator on 01609 532435 or email

This page was last updated on 12 April 2017