Meet our new Warden…

Pete’s first week involves exploring the site. Here he’s checking one of our steepest fence lines in Riggindale, with fellow member of the Warden team Richard, who’s been showing him the ropes. Image taken by Richard.

Pete Jones has joined our team this week, as a new Warden, working alongside our existing Warden Team Spike and Richard. Find out more about the freshest face at Haweswater…

Where were you before Haweswater?

I have spent the last 12 years of my career working for the wonderful Cumbria Wildlife Trust. My office base was at Plumgarth’s near Kendal and I have been managing a number of their nature reserves including: Hutton Roof Crags, Holme Park Quarry and Clawthorpe Fell all near Burton-in-Kendal, Park Wood near Hutton Roof village, Hale Moss near Milnthorpe, Grubbins Wood in Arnside, Brown Robin (my personal favourite) and Humphrey Head near Grange Over Sands, Latterbarrow near Witherslack, Lowick Common near Greenodd and Next Ness near Ulverston. I worked in the fantastic reserves team, and alongside many passionate and dedicated colleagues and volunteers throughout the Trust. My time there was utterly brilliant.

My work involved all the day to day running of the reserves, from carrying out practical conservation tasks – ably supported by my phenomenal team of volunteers, surveying and monitoring species, writing management plans, delivering public experiences and events, arranging contractors and graziers, applying for Government funding, managing risks, getting cold and wet, getting hot and sweaty, and loving (almost) every minute of it.

Before working for the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, I spent two amazing seasons as Hen Harrier Assistant Warden for the RSPB in the Forest of Bowland – monitoring these impressive birds of prey during the breeding season.

Pete on his last day at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, taking a guided walk around Humphrey Head. Image thanks to Grange Natural History Society

What brought you to Haweswater?

I grew up in Chesterfield in Derbyshire, right on the edge of the Peak District, so the uplands have always felt like home to me – the calls of Curlews, the songs of Skylarks, the boggy tops, the wooded bottoms, the rushing streams and vast reservoirs. One day, at an Open Day at Longshaw Estate for the National Trust Centenary celebrations, I met one of their rangers and it opened my eyes to the fact you could make a job out of this – helping to conserve habitats for wildlife. I did lots of volunteering as a teenager to gain as much experience as I could and went on to do a degree in Countryside Conservation at Aberystwyth University.

Afterwards I worked for a couple of years in unrelated roles, to earn some money to go travelling to South America where I spent 3 months working on Andean Condor and Monkey Puzzle Tree conservation projects. When I returned home, I was lucky to get a residential volunteering placement with the RSPB. I spent an incredible year at RSPB Leighton Moss, working with the fantastic Warden and Visitor Teams there, learning all sorts of skills to help in my conservation career, before securing my first conservation contracts in Bowland.

Fast forward over a decade, and following my time with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, an exciting vacancy arose at Haweswater, were my partner Annabel Rushton works as the Visitor Experience Manager.

What will you be doing at Haweswater?

As this is only my third day, I’m still working that out! Haweswater is massive – 3000 hectares/30 square kilometres of mossy woodlands, rocky crags, bogs, tarns and rushing streams, the mighty Haweswater reservoir is encircled by looming fells. There is a lot for me to explore and learn. There’s a lot of mountains to climb (and miles of fences to check)!

I imagine very few of my days will be the same (they haven’t so far). I will be doing practical conservation tasks like tree planting, fencing repairs, leading and learning from groups of vital volunteers who assist with it all, moving sheep, cattle and ponies on the farm, helping with management plans and risk assessments. I will be working with the inspirational team at Haweswater. My new boss is Lee Schofield, the award-winning author of Wild Fell. I will be working closely with our expert Wardening team Spike and Richard, and our fun Livestock team David, Faith and Elli. Then there’s the gurus like Jo our Tree Nursery Officer, Bea our Celebration Wood Officer, Annabel our Visitor Experience Manager, our ingenious Science team Ash, Callum and Liz, our cleaner Gillian. Not forgetting the Landscape Recovery team – Jane (Project Manager), Katie (Community Engagement Officer), Steve (Ecologist), Sarah (Administrator) and Rhys (Research Assistant). Oh and a brand new partnership project we’re involved in Cumbria Connect. And of course our expert colleagues like John Gorst at United Utilities. And lots of other folk from across Cumbria and the wider RSPB. I’ve got lots to learn from everyone, and I’m excited for what’s to come.

This is my new office! Image of Haweswater by Patrick Neaves.

– Interview and blog by Annabel Rushton, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager

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