With an area of more than 1,400 square kilometres, England’s first national park covers a surface larger than the Faroe Islands. The northern part, the Dark Peak, consists primarily of moors. If you consider the grasslands of the White Peak, who are populated by sheep, as well, the National Park offers endless possibilities for extensive hikes. However, before it was established in 1951, hikers were generally not allowed to set foot on the land. It was only after mass protests against the ancient laws that parts of today’s National Park became freely accessible. Around ten million guests visit the area today to experience its natural beauty.
However, the park does not maintain itself. In order to make sure that the numerous guests have a pleasant and safe stay there, the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers (PPCV) get down to work almost every day. All year long, a motley crowd of volunteers hop into the PPCV Programme’s Sprinter 4×4 and go wherever helping hands are needed. The tasks performed by them include various practical activities, such as fencing and the building of paths and steps. Visits to schools, visitor support and guided tours are also among the tasks taken over by the 50 different groups of volunteers. Besides them, some 450 additional volunteers are also active in the PPCV. The objective is not merely to keep the Park in good condition, but also to give volunteers the opportunity to experience for themselves the beauty and the value of the Peak-District National Park.
A major challenge in the upkeep of such a vast area is the transportation of the volunteers. However, the PPCV Programme has an ace up its sleeve: the Sprinter 4×4. “Our Sprinter is the backbone of the entire logistics in the Park,” says Dave Cramp, the director of the programme. The Sprinter is used to transport the volunteers as well as the required tools to their destinations across the 1,400 square-kilometre National Park. Not only does it offer sufficient space for the volunteers, but it also provides them with additional comfort – a highly welcomed luxury after a hard day of work in the English weather.
The Sprinter 4×4 masters the rough terrain of the National Park with ease.
Despite the big plus of having a Sprinter 4×4 at their disposal, the Programme has to cope with a number of hurdles and challenges. Dave admits that it is difficult to finance the project: “If larger purchases have to be made, we always have to raise additional funds.” Nevertheless, he is optimistic about the future: “We rely on the goodwill of the volunteers who give us their time.” And, clearly relieved, he adds: “Luckily for us, such voluntary helpers are always available.” Therefore, there is no end in sight. As has been the case for over 40 years now, the volunteer project in the Peak-District National Park will take place in 2019, too.