The Lineside Conservation Team 

The lineside is the land between the running lines of the railway and the edge of our landholding. It is an incredible 18miles long, traversing many different habitats and it is rich in both a natural and cultural heritage.

Our volunteers help support the safe working of the railway by managing vegetation; surveying and managing habitats to conserve and enhance biodiversity; preserving and conserving heritage features on the lineside such as our mileposts, signs and lineside huts; and help to maintain the 36miles (18 miles each way) of boundaries including fencing, drystone walls and old heritage walls from the railways early days.

The lineside conservation team is made up of many roles. Some volunteers are dedicated to one role and others like to mix and match as their skills and interests develop.

Drystone Walling Team

There are select areas where drystone walls feature as part of our boundaries. Drystone walling is a traditional countryside management skill that requires patience and physical fitness. The team are always happy to welcome someone who wishes to learn.

Drystone walling can be incredibly fulfilling. As well as providing an essential safe boundary to the railway, the walls that the volunteers care for and restore are truly aesthetic and a fantastic wildlife habitat in their own right.

Habitat Management

Our lineside is a mosaic of habitats, jammed with incredible species both common and rare. We manage the habitats on the lineside carefully at each location, for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes we need to maintain clear sightlines for train drivers and must therefore manage scrub and tree growth whilst other times we may be controlling scrub and tree growth or coppicing to restore meadows and butterfly habitats.

We also keep clear access points on the railway via strimming and help to manage the wildflower meadows (largely by the stations) by strimming and raking.

It is a practical set of tasks that can take you anywhere on the railway and allows you to really connect with the mechanisms of the railway and get close to the plants and animals of the lineside. 

Wildlife Monitoring

A new and growing area of our work is to survey for and monitor species along the lineside. Knowing what we have and where helps us make good and considered management decisions and drives our management plan.

So much of our lineside is a Site of Special Interest, a Special Area of Conservation or ancient woodland and monitoring indicator species helps us determine the condition of these special sites.

Training is available and these tasks are a real chance to get up close to the wonder of the lineside getting to know birds, butterflies, bats, plants and small mammals.

Heritage Conservation

Another growing area of our work includes working to preserve, conserve and upgrade some of our lineside heritage features. 

We need practical, handy volunteers with a basic understanding of construction and tools use to help us look after our lineside huts, mileposts, retaining walls and bridges.

As well as practically caring for our heritage features, projects are afoot to share an understanding and awareness of the features and tell their incredible stories to all our staff, volunteers and visitors.

Fencing Team

The fencing team is an active, practical group of volunteers who help to survey, assess, mend and create our many, many miles of fencing. It is essential we keep safe boundaries for livestock and the public and ourselves as workers on the railway.

It is a year-round task, always outdoors and with a great bunch of people.

Lineside Wardens

This is a new and developing role and one that is essential to help support the other members of the team and the Infrastructure Department.

Volunteers, in pairs or trios, are needed to adopt a few miles of lineside for which they would take on a surveyor and caretaker role. Teams would be asked to walk their area two to three times a year and report on the condition of fences, ditches, culverts and heritage features whilst doing a walk-over care duty.

Full training will be given. Good mobility is required though the role is not as physical as other roles and this is a great opportunity to really get to know a section of the NYMR and support the teams around it.

Volunteering Commitment

  • Attend Induction Course. 
  • Commit to attending on average at least two occasions per month or equivalent throughout the season. 
  • A reasonable level of health and fitness is required.
  • A love of the outdoors, in all weathers, is recommended! 


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