THE cold weather we have recently been experiencing, and hopefully embracing and enjoying, along with some of the Ranger teams’ recent attendance at an outdoor based first aid refresher course made me think about general safety whilst you are visiting any countryside environment.

It is important to be prepared like any good Boy Scout or Girl Guide for the extremities of weather. It is often said that on higher ground like Dartmoor one can get all four seasons weather in one day!

Certainly if you are planning a good day’s walk/horse ride/cycle/climb or a longer expedition in the winter always make sure that you let somebody know your plans. Wear good footwear and take with you a full set of waterproofs, map and compass, torch and whistle, gloves/hat and spare warm clothing, first aid kit, food, drink and emergency rations.

If you visit after snowfall for recreational purposes then remember that the area is still an important working landscape and that vital daily deliveries have to be made which include farmers feeding their stock. Think carefully about where you leave your vehicle making sure you do not cause an obstruction or block roads, properties drives or gateways.

The large open areas of moor land on Dartmoor are also the home of grazing sheep, cattle and ponies that are owned by local farmers. If you are bringing a dog out at anytime of the year please make sure it is under your close control at all times. The best way to do that is to keep it on a short lead at all times and not interfering with any stock.

The key role of a ranger’s job on a daily basis is providing a vital communications link between the Dartmoor National Park Authority, local residents and visitors.

In times of bad weather and in other emergency situations we also liaise and link up closely with the county council, district councils,?Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, ambulance service and the police.

In the background, under the call out umbrella of the police, there is also a volunteer service known as the Dartmoor Rescue Group.

They are strategically placed in four search and rescue sections at Ashburton, Okehampton, Tavistock and Plymouth and are on 24 hour call out to help assist injured or lost people throughout Devon and sometimes beyond.

So be prepared, thoughtful and careful before and during your visit to the countryside so that you can thoroughly enjoy your experience and not become a burden to anybody.