Sunday Sit-Down with… Margaret Anderson
We caught up with Northumberland National Park’s first ever female Head Ranger
By Becky Hardy
Margaret Anderson has made history here in the North East. She had become the first female Head Ranger in Northumberland National Park’s 65-year history.
Margaret’s journey to the top began from childhood, growing up on a farm just on the edge of the Park and becoming immersed in all aspects of the rural community from an early age.
Having already worked at Northumberland National Park [NNP] in a number of different roles for 15 years now – including in administration, planning and volunteer coordination, as well as being a ranger since 2008 – Margaret will now be responsible for the management of the entire NNP ranger team. This team works to connect the Park with local farmers, residents and the public, all while making sure rights of way and visitor sites are both safe and accessible.
But as well as this, Margaret will take on the task of supporting the ongoing implementation of sustainable land management methods across the Park – something that promises to be both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Something no doubt helped immensely by her energy, enthusiasm and obvious love for the great outdoors.
What first made you want to become a ranger?
Being a country girl, I love being in the outdoors. Growing up on the family farm means I have always been a very practical, hands-on type person and I love that side of the job. I actually didn’t know being a ranger was a job until I started at the National Park, but I knew it was for me once I got to know more about the role.
What does being Head Ranger at NNP involve?
I manage a team of five rangers, so most of my time is spent making sure they are getting the work done on the ground to help conserve and enhance this stunning landscape. I work with farmers, landowners and partners to help protect the special qualities of NNP for local communities and future generations to enjoy. We also work hard to engage with the public and visitors so they can get the most out of their visit, whilst respecting the Park. It’s a very varied job and no two days are ever the same – it keeps you on your toes!
You recently helped Robson Green work along Hadrian’s Wall in his latest Channel 5 documentary – do you get a lot of celebrity visitors to NNP?!
There could be loads of celebrities in the park and we’d never know due to the remoteness of the place! We’ve had some big names come and film in the Park though – Kevin Costner and Benedict Cumberbatch, for example. I’m sure they will have popped back for a more leisurely explore once filming finished…
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
The fact that I get to work in a place I call home makes me so thankful. And the inspirational landscape and wonderful people who live and work in the Park make it an amazing place to work. I really like the practical aspect of the job – a hard day in the field building a bridge or doing some drainage work is a good day as far as I’m concerned.
What advice would you give other women in the region who may want to become a ranger in the future?
Go for it. Rangers are a very diverse group with all kinds of different backgrounds. If you have a passion for the outdoors, you’re practically minded and like to get involved in sustainable land management, then get involved.
What’s your favourite spot within Northumberland National Park?
There are so many places I could say, but for me it has to be the Coquet Valley. It’s where my family farmed in previous generations. I love its wildness and Border Reivers history.