Get to Know a Public Right of Way Officer
31st August 2022
Have you ever wondered who looks after your public right of way walks? We got in touch with Heidi-ann Jobson to discuss what it is like to work on walking and cycling routes to help improve the health and wellbeing of others and the planet.
Public Right of Way Officer covering Sevenoaks District
What does your role involve?
The purpose of my role is to protect and maintain the public rights of way within my area and enforce the rights of the public when necessary. There is an online tool which enables members of the public to report any issues which are then added to our mapping system.
There are a total of 470 miles of PROWs across the Sevenoaks district. Day to day my role will sometimes involve being out and about all day on site visits and inspections, occasionally resolving simple issues myself while on site, such as a missing waymarks or overgrown vegetation around a stile. Other days will be spent in front of the computer adding jobs to our contractors’ work orders and updating the system with any progress or resolutions.
What do you like most about your role?
I love that I am not stuck in an office all day every day. I feel like I wake up every morning to my dream job. It’s great to be able to make a real difference in the community protecting peoples rights to enjoy the countryside. I still have a lot to learn regarding all the legislation involved but I am really enjoying getting to grips with it all. I work with a great team who are always there for support and guidance.
How does it differ from your previous job?
I previously worked as a retail manager for a large supermarket chain. Some days I wouldn’t even see daylight as it was dark when I started and dark when I left. It was during the Covid lockdown that I decided I needed a change of career for a better quality of life.
What has been your personal favourite achievement within your role?
I have a couple of landowners that have agreed to replace broken stiles on their land with gates which will make the route more accessible, I think when I see those gates in place it will be a proud moment for me.
Where is your favourite Public Right of Way spot?
There are so many to choose from and still so many I haven’t explored, but among my favourites are the routes which cross Knowle Park encountering deer along the way. Another favourite of mine is a woodland walk in Cowden, SR669, the bluebells along this route are a stunning sight.
What do you love most about the outdoors?
I love the feeling of fresh air on my face whether it be the warm summer sun or the bite of a winter breeze. I love to see wildlife in its natural habitat going about its daily business, and the changing seasons of the flowers and trees. But I think what I love most is the feeling of freedom to explore and discover new places.
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