Countryside volunteers

Help to maintain access to the countryside across North Yorkshire or support nature conservation in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

North Yorkshire lays claim to some of the most beautiful landscape in the country, and its footpaths, bridleways and views are enjoyed by visitors from around the world. We have a team of over 100 volunteers, who help look after 6,000 kilometres of public rights of way and play an instrumental role in preserving access to the countryside so that it can be enjoyed for years to come.

How you can help

Volunteers help in two different parts of the service; helping to maintain public rights of way across the county and helping with landscape conservation in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which is between Helmsley, Malton, Sheriff Hutton and Easingwold.

Rights of way volunteering

As a rights of way volunteer, you could be involved in any of the following: 

  • carrying out inspections of issues that have been reported to the public to gather accurate information and take photographs
  • putting up new waymarks or replacing old ones
  • putting up, checking or removing North Yorkshire Council legal notices for diversions or path closures
  • undertaking practical work such as clearance of vegetation around stiles, gates, signposts or bridges
  • assisting with large-scale surveys across the network, for example, bridges, signposts and promoted routes
  • occasionally assisting the field officers to carry out a range of maintenance tasks, for example, repairing or replacing steps, bridges, boardwalks, signs, gates and stiles

Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty volunteer, you would be: 

  • working in groups at various sites across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty clearing invasive plants such as Himalayan Balsam, Rhododendron, bracken and scrub, to allow native species to flourish or to protect scheduled monument sites, for example, round barrows
  • occasionally carry out surveys of, for example, scheduled monuments or signposts 

The benefits to you

There are many benefits to be gained from volunteering with us: 

  • you get to give back to the community by helping to maintain the footpaths and bridleways for all to enjoy
  • the physical exercise and fresh air, as well as being out in nature, is great for your own mental and physical wellbeing
  • the conservation tasks provide opportunity to meet other volunteers and enjoy the social aspect of group work
  • you can use existing skills and learn new ones, and gain knowledge of countryside management and maintenance
  • you gain practical experience in the environmental sector
  • volunteering looks great on your CV

More information

What skills and experience are required?

Essential skills and abilities

You will need: 

  • to be able to read a map
  • a level of fitness suitable for traversing the countryside, sometimes on rough or uneven ground with gates or stiles 
  • access to an email address and familiarity with the internet so that tasks can be sent to you through an online portal


This volunteer work takes place all year round so suitable clothing will be required. We can provide some waterproof clothing and a monetary contribution towards walking boots and hand tools. 

You will also need access to a camera or smartphone to take photographs. 


The tasks are all outside and often in remote locations away from public transport routes, so you will need your own transport. 

Reasonable travel expenses can be reimbursed. 


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

What days and times are available or needed?

The rights of way role is very flexible and tasks can be done at a time to suit you, including evenings and weekends. Occasionally we may ask for a volunteer who is available at short notice, but usually you will have a couple of weeks to complete a task.

Rights of way tasks come at irregular intervals, so there may be lots of work to do one month and then nothing the next. However, you are always welcome to undertake proactive work, for example, clearing vegetation around stiles or signposts that you come across on walks or in your local area.

Conservation tasks in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are:

  • usually on Thursdays
  • mostly fortnightly
  • around 10am to 3:30pm

There is less activity in April and May when birds are nesting and more, often weekly, in summer when we tackle Himalayan Balsam. 

What training is offered?

You will be invited to an induction session which will cover all the basic information to get you started, including health and safety. After that, full instructions will be given as new tasks come up. The volunteer coordinator is available for ongoing support and will also arrange occasional volunteer meetings.

What references or checks are needed?

No disclosure and barring service or other checks are required for this role. You must be 18 years or over to be a countryside volunteer.

Register your interest

We are currently looking for more volunteers in the areas of: 

  • Selby
  • East of Harrogate

If you live anywhere in the previous Selby district or anywhere East of the A1 up to Boroughbridge, we would love to hear from you.

If you want to enrol with us or find out more about volunteering in general, please contact us at