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PMV South Chilterns

The South Chilterns Path Maintenance Volunteers are responsible for all the South Oxfordshire Chilterns' rights of way – this very roughly means the footpaths and bridleways south of the M40 down to the Thames between Henley and Goring.

In all, the combined length of all the pathways in our area is about 380 km.

What we do

Most of our work is clearing footpaths and bridleways – the type and degree of clearing is seasonal. In the summer we have to clear the rapid soft growth – long grasses, nettles, brambles, etc., which swiftly encroach on and can block paths, and out of the bird nesting season we do heavier clearance work such as cutting back thick hedges and intruding tree branches.

From time to time our work schedule includes building or repairing stiles, erecting waymark posts and signs, rebuilding an earth staircase, or the installation of kissing gates.

Working with us

There are no particular qualifications or skills required to become a member of the team: if you can use gardening tools you'll be OK. We use a mix of manual and power tools but nobody is permitted to use a power tool until they've had the appropriate instruction or attended a recognised course.

Similarly, volunteers do not need to be super-strong. Obviously a basic level of fitness is necessary as our work sessions last around three to three and a half hours – naturally with a break for refreshment. It's good exercise and much more enjoyable than going to the gym!

Women as well as men are welcome of course, and volunteers do not have to be members of the Chiltern Society (the Society's PMV insurance covers working non-members of the Society), so this very sociable group is currently pleased also to include members of the Ramblers Association as well as people not affiliated to any organisation.

Work sessions

The group has work sessions three mornings a month, generally on two Wednesdays and one Saturday. Volunteers make no commitment to regular work and each person works at their own rate and within their own abilities. Safety is always a prime consideration and the group includes several members who have attended approved first-aid courses.

You will need to have stout boots, occasionally wellies, working gloves and appropriate wet weather clothing as we do get rained upon occasionally. Tools are provided by the Chiltern Society.

We meet at the work site at 9.15 am and usually finish around 12.45 pm, leaving time for those who feel so inclined to drop in on one of Oxfordshire's fine pubs for some liquid refreshment and maybe lunch.

For the latest Path Maintenance volunteering opportunities in South Chilterns, please click here.

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An example of the sort of valuable work done by PMVs.