Sophie grew up in the countryside outside Haddington and spent a lot of time as a child outside at the beach or being dragged along on walks by her parents. She wasn’t a huge fan of walking when she was wee! When she was 18 she moved to Aberdeen to study English Literature but dropped out a year later when she realised that degree subject wasn’t for her.
Sophie worked for a year before training as an outdoor instructor. Sophie said: “My plan was to go and work on a Scottish island teaching kayaking and climbing to children but after meeting an inspiring mountain instructor who knew lots about plants and habitats I decided to deepen my knowledge and studied Environmental Resource Management at Scottish Rural College in Edinburgh, graduating in 2018 with a first class honours degree.” While Sophie was at university she worked as a baker and chef in a variety of different well-known cafes and bakeries around Edinburgh as a way of helping her part fund her studies.
Sophie said: “Since graduating I’ve applied for lots of jobs in conservation and although I worked for a few ecological consultancies doing survey work I have mainly been managing a bakery in Edinburgh and also working as a yoga teacher. I was totally over the moon to get this post as a Ranger here!”
“At the moment I’m also studying a Masters of Research in Ecology and Environmental Biology at the University of Glasgow. My thesis is looking at the cumulative impact of wind farms on golden eagles in Argyll. I love being outside and when I’m not doing yoga or cooking for my family or my pals I spend most of my free time either in the water, up a hill or foraging for various different plants I use in the kitchen. Being a Ranger has been my dream job since I started my undergraduate degree. I enjoy being outside and the variety of the job. My day to day routine is so variable, it’s hard to describe – During the weekday mornings I often spend them patrolling the beach, speaking to any campers and picking up litter and then the rest of the day can be anything from plant or animal surveying to general care of the site; strimming, removing certain invasive plant species, managing any hazards. The other Rangers have a vast pool of knowledge and have been happy to help if there is anything I want to learn, so I have been spending time at other sites learning about wading bird species, butterflies and plant identification. At the weekend we work in teams and our job generally involves speaking to campers (of which there has been a lot), clearing up litter and managing traffic.”
Covid is actually partly responsible for me getting this job! The funding for my post came from the Nature Scot Green Recovery Fund and enabled East Lothian Council to recruit eight seasonal Rangers to support work due to the increased pressure on our coastlines a more people are taking ‘staycations’.
Top picnic spots
As its national picnic month we asked Sophie where her favourite picnic spot would be in East Lothian and she said: “I might be biased as it’s where I’m based, but I think Gullane is a great place for a picnic. If you don’t mind a half hour walk, the east of the beach past the rocks is generally quieter, there’s lots of wildflowers and if you like swimming then there’s some great places to swim off the rocks when the tide is in. Plus there’s a new gelato place on the high street for a post picnic treat!”