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Today we’re pleased to welcome Katie Taylor of Mourne Heritage Trust, who you’ll have seen in the BBC’s ‘The Chronicles of Mourne’ documentary.
Katie, tell me a bit about yourself…
I’m a Project Officer for the Mourne Heritage Trust delivering path repairs for the Glen River trail. Before that I studied Land Use and Environmental Management with Queen’s University Belfast, and a Masters in Conservation and Biodiversity with the University of Exeter.
And where did you grow up?
I was born in Belfast, but have lived in Newcastle, County Down for most of my life.
Tell us a bit more about what your job entails, then.
My main responsibility is to help repair the Glen River path to Slieve Donard with my co-worker Phil Savage, and our volunteer team. This involves using hand tools and materials won from the land around us to make a natural, robust and sustainable route. Asides from that, I look after all our volunteers, and try to get stuck in with other interesting projects delivered by the MHT, like the Red Squirrel release in Silent Valley, or our Heathland Restoration Project.
You obviously have a great love for the mountains – when did that start?
I’ve lived in Newcastle from a very young age, and the Mourne Mountains were a huge part of my childhood; from exploring the peaks, jumping into the Glen River with my friends, bush crafting in the woods, and camping overnight – the mountains were a complete entertainment package. Nowadays I’m happy to have an opportunity to give back to the area I grew up in, and to hopefully keep it special for future generations.
Do you have a personal favourite peak in the Mournes?
That’s a difficult one! When I have friends over to visit, I love taking them up Slieve Binnain as there’s so much to explore, like Percy Bysshe Cave or Binnian Lough.
Why’s it your favourite?
It’s such a beautiful spot, especially around the tors at the top of the mountain – it never fails to impress!
And what do you find most challenging about your role?
The weather can be a big obstacle sometimes, especially around the Winter months where you get every combination of cold, rain and wind imaginable!
Do you work as part of a team?
Myself and Phil Savage form the Upland Repair Team for the MHT, and we have a dedicated group of Volunteers who join us every week to help deliver path work, we couldn’t do without their skills and hard work!
You recently featured in ‘The Chronicles of Mourne’ – how did that come about? Was it a good experience?
It was an interesting experience, I felt very self-conscious a lot of the time, and I was quite worried about how the show would look. But I’m really pleased with the show, the scenery shots were beautiful and the stories fascinating. The show has also been good for the MHT too, we have had a lot of people interested in exploring the Mountains, and getting in touch with us to enquire about volunteering which has been fantastic!
And what’s the best thing about your job?
Meeting wonderful, positive and talented people who genuinely care about the Mournes, and getting to work with a great view every day.
Finally, is there anything the public can do to help you out?
All public donations go straight back into our volunteers and Mournes projects, so please visit http://www.mournelive.com/ to find out how to donate. Also if you would like to volunteer, please don’t hesitate to contact us.