Hill walking, natural history and the love of wildlife were the attractions that enticed the speaker at a recent meeting of Largs Probus Club.

John McLean described how he gave up his day job as a bus driver to become a country park ranger. A degree in environmental biology led to a seasonal countryside ranger’s post at Culzean Castle and then a countryside ranger’s post at Clyde Muirshield Regional Park.

John advised that Clyde Muirshiel’s ranger service operates from Castle Semple, Muirshiel, Greenock Cut and Lunderston, delivering conservation, recreation and education for all ages.

North Ayrshire Council is no longer involved in the running of the service.

The ranger service is involved in the day to day running of each site, giving advice on the countryside, providing blogs, running and hosting public events and three weekly volunteer sessions.

The service upholds the regional park’s aims through the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats, wildlife recording and school groups doing outdoor learning, such as pond dipping, as well as arranging bat walks and other guided walks.

Countryside rangers in Clyde Muirshiel uphold and advise visitors about the Scottish Outdoor Access Code through environmental education, not just in schools but through interaction with visitors in the visitor centres and at various information points across the park.

John showed photographs of some of the wildlife in the regional park and spoke about the work the rangers do to protect wildlife, plants and other aspects of nature.

He also shone a light on the more mundane but important work undertaken to maintain the quality of both indoor and outdoor spaces by removing litter, clearing and repairing trails, and protecting artifacts.

Ray Young thanked John for his excellent and informative talk, particularly with regard to the education of children in protecting the countryside and natural habitats.

Largs Probus Club will next meet in the Willowbank Hotel on Wednesday, May 8 at 10am, when Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain will speak on the Scottish Police Service.