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Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland Team

DOUGIE BAIRD

CEO

As leader of the OATS team I develop and deliver the business plan, manage finance and staff, serve the board, and have oversight on all Trust operations.

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I studied environmental science at Stirling University and have worked for many years in conservation, with a particular focus on access management, including hands-on building, training, and project management. I am an SQA assessor and verifier, and have completed the Institute of Directors – Leadership for Change training.

Training is a passion: nothing is more rewarding than people you’ve brought on progressing in the industry. To see our training course graduates out working on the hill, setting up their own companies or beginning their careers in countryside conservation, and still in the business years later is just brilliant.

MURRAY SWAPP

ACCESS PROJECTS MANAGER

Originally from Stonehaven, I now live in Aberdeen. My work centres around supporting community groups and project partners across Scotland to develop and build paths. I also oversee some path work, and the OATS car-park sites.  Prior to OATS I learned about project management working in forestry.

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One of the best parts of the job is surveying new path lines, sometimes in uncharted territory where no path exists. I like to walk the mountains too: my favourite is the Outer Hebrides’ highest, An Cliseam in Harris. Views over beaches, peatlands and out to sea made it for me.

The job has its challenges, such as travelling through the mountains at all times of year. I was on my way to a site near Kincraig when I found the car sliding backwards on the Lecht road one icy January morning. I spun across both carriageways and ended up facing downhill – a hint maybe that I should go around another way, which I did.

KEITH MACKEY

TECHNICAL PROJECTS OFFICER

I’m the technical projects officer for OATS, surveying mainly eroded sites to decide how to fix them. I deal with landowners and contract tendering, then manage the site work, and deliver SVQ Level 2 and 3 training in Environmental Conservation.

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I’m from the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, and since I was a child I have loved the Fiddlers Green walk on Carlingford Loch, a historic route through woodland and hillside. I live in Aberdeen with my partner Sarah and have a degree in land management from Queens University, Belfast. I previously worked as a mountain-bike ranger in the Mournes, and became a member of the local mountain rescue team: the training was tough …

The rewards of my job are immense: working in the most remote and scenic parts of Scotland, I’ve seen stunning sun rises, sunsets,  land and seascapes; spotted deer and golden eagles; and breathed in the cool air of ancient Caledonian pine forests.

PAT FURNEVEL

SPITTAL OF GLEN MUICK CAR PARK ATTENDANT

I am the car-park attendant for the Glen Muick car park, starting point for walks to the Munros of Lochnagar and Broad Cairn. I grew up in Hertfordshire and now live near Ballater with my husband.

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My work involves making people park properly, ensuring temperamental ticket machines work, and liaising with the estate ranger – we are on the royal Balmoral estate. The wildlife is great – I feed the birds by hand and helped with an adder count. I previously worked at a senior level in training and HR, so have lots of experience of dealing with people.

When a regular visitor drove into a ditch I persuaded a couple of hefty royal protection officers to pull his car out. He brought me flowers next day! Some parkers are not so nice, ice makes the car park a skating rink, and litter is a problem but I love working in such a beautiful place.

NIKI MACLEAN

Fairy Pools Facility Supervisor

As supervisor at the Fairy Pools car park and toilets, I help visitors, liaise with community groups and contractors, and manage the mass of people and cars. It’s hectic but I love it: the view from my office is the best there is, and I love that the scheme has big environmental and community benefits. Grumpy parkers, midges and big hail I don’t like, but they pass.

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I‘m from the south of England, but am settled on Skye with my husband and two teenage daughters. I have a master’s degree in environmental science and have been a countryside ranger, volunteer co-ordinator, postie and youth-hostel manager. I teach gymnastics, yoga, and other disciplines.

I love it when people return from the Fairy Pools with a big smile: weddings here are a joy. There are some odd types: the couple who took their cat in a carry case but couldn’t cross the flooded river. They returned the next day “because the cat was sad and still wanted to see the Fairy Pools”. The outfits on people for a two-mile walk on a steep footpath with a river crossing beggar belief.

TONY WILKINSON

Fairy Pools Facility Operative

I help look after OATS’s car park at the Fairy Pools on Skye, one of the island’s busiest tourist hotspots. Originally from Middlesborough, I‘m married with two children and now live on the island. My skills include logistical management, health and safety implementation and staff training.

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As well as issuing tickets I try to make the visitors’ experience the best I can, giving directions, explaining local history and talking about the car park, which I believe can be a model for other countryside sites with mass tourism problems.

My favourite walk is to Sligachan from our car park via Glen Sligachan, and the only part of the job I don’t like is when the weather turns. Even the oddest customers are entertaining: one guy said he was a wizard and refused to pay to park as he had been called here by the spirits. He had a bag of wands he wanted to bless in the Fairy Pools but needed to get down there by midday as he had an interview at the Co-Op at 2pm. But by the magic of gentle persuasion, he did pay in the end …