A day in the life of a Sherwood Forest Ranger
In today’s guest blog, John Jacques, who is the onsite Ranger at Forest Holidays at Sherwood, describes how a typical day looks for him – if such a thing exists.
Firstly, it is worth me saying that no two days in the life of a Forest Ranger are alike. The forest is different every day, every month and every season. However there are certain threads that run through the ever-changing landscape. Here are just some of the things I do on a regular basis.
Preparing the ground
Typically, I arrive onsite at about midday. The first thing I do is check who is booked on my various activities for the day, which include Bush Skills, The Twilight Walk and Night Vision, as well as Junior Explorers.
Then I head out into the forest alone. Before any of the day’s forest expeditions can take place I ensure that the way is safe and look out for potential animal sightings. I take down the shelters built on the previous day’s Bush Skills session so that the new adventurers can start from scratch. I remove any hazards such as low hanging branches and brambles and I pick up any litter that I see.
I also keep a close eye on the weather because that will dictate the route we take and what we look out for. For instance, if it is wet and windy I know where the deer will be seeking shelter.
Back at the Forest Retreat, I set up the craft tables with paper, crayons and bits and pieces I have picked up in the woods, such as pine cones and leaves. Then it’s time to meet my Young Explorers. I take them on a mini-adventure, showing them evidence of the woodland animals and playing lots of games. Even something as simple as who can find the biggest and smallest leaf keeps them excited. Little do they know, they are in a classroom, it just happens to have no walls.
At 2pm we usually have a Bush Skills session when I teach adults and children alike about the key factors for survival in the wild. We build shelters, light fires and forage for forest foods.
The Forest by Night
In the winter, our Twilight Walk begins around 4pm and our Night Vision walk at 6.30pm. In the summer those times are pushed right back, and we often don’t get back until after midnight. These walks are special though; they open up a new window on the life of the forest and when guests lift their night vision glasses and find a stag staring straight at them, their sense of wonder reminds me that I love my job.
Our activities and what we look out for change throughout the seasons. In the spring we look for ground-nesting nightjars, in the summer we will be bat watching and in the autumn we will be looking for clues that the deer rutting season has begun – this could be antler marks on trees, or churned up muddy “scrapes”.
The jobs you might not have expected…
I have a host of other jobs. I am the general manager of the Bug Hotel, the odd-job man for the fairies at the Fairy House, keeping things spic and span for them, and caterer for the birds, ensuring that the bird table is topped up, especially during the cold winter months.
As far as Forest Holidays guests are concerned, I am also the Quiz Master for our twice weekly quizzes, occasional bar man, pizza delivery boy, tourist guide and just about anything else that is needed. We have a real teamwork ethic here at Forest Holidays and we all do whatever needs doing. That said, I stop short at the kitchen door – my cooking is not something I would inflight on my worst enemies!
Come and meet me
I love this life – every day is an adventure. My guests experience nature up close and for many of them it is the first time they have really thought about the natural world that surrounds them. Come to Sherwood Forest this summer and stay in one of Forest Holidays’ luxury cabins. Meet me at the onsite Forest Retreat and get ready for some woodland adventures.