3. Practical Tasks - Ashcombe Gardens, General Garden Volunteer

Main Activity:

Volunteer and help us uncover and restore Ashcombe Gardens in Simonsbath, clearing paths, carrying out gardening, planting, pruning and researching its fascinating history.


The Gardens lie at the heart of what was once the Royal Hunting Forest of Exmoor. In 1818 the Forest was purchased by John Knight, an industrialist from the West Midlands who planned to transform it into a great estate, with a mansion at its heart in Simonsbath, surrounded by picturesque gardens. Ashcombe Gardens represent one of the last Picturesque landscapes in England but it’s original vision was never completed. Traces of garden terraces, bridges and paths remain, but very little is known about the overall plan for the gardens..


Volunteers meet regularly on the first Monday of the month.



Ashcombe Gardens, Simonsbath


Time Commitment:






Skills/Ability needed:

The initial plan is to clear the overgrown vegetation and open the network of paths that wind up the valley from the car park.  You would be using hand tools and health and safety training will be provided where necessary.


What you need to bring:

Suitable outdoor clothing & sturdy boots, strong gardening gloves if you have them. We will supply any protective personal equipment required


What’s in it for you:

Opportunity to work outdoors in the stunning surroundings of the Barle Valley.  The opportunity to take part in an exciting restoration project, working alongside staff from Exmoor National Park to uncover this fascinating landscape.


Risk Assessment

Activity being assessed:

Ashcombe Gardens Volunteering

Who is doing this assessment?

Jackie Kiberd

Date of assessment:


Date of next review:


Activity participants who may be harmed/at risk:

Staff & volunteers & general public



POTENTIAL ACCIDENTS/CONCERNS (Likely places/ways that people could be harmed)


(Have you included all reasonable precautions that could be taken to avoid injury?)


(e.g. On the day: any changes or additional precautions needed)

Risk of cuts, bruises, sprains, broken limbs from slips, trips and falls, rough field surfaces and cut vegetation

Volunteers need to be able bodied and in good health.

Wear appropriate footwear and take care when working on steep/ uneven ground.


Take extra care when walking on rough and steep ground. Site must be inspected and non-obvious trip hazards such as wire or holes hidden by grass removed/marked.


Site, tools and materials are to be kept tidy including in tool storage areas.


In case of an emergency Call 999 or 112. 

Exmoor House: 01398323665

Jackie Kiberd Tel. 07970099127

Patrick Watts Mabbott Tel: 07973727469


Mobile reception can be patchy. Land line available in Ashcombe Bothy


Site name: Ashcombe carpark, Simonsbath

Postcode TA24 7SH

Grid Ref: SS77339

What3Words: amicably.elbow.treatment

Risk of sunstroke/sunburn; heat exhaustion; dehydration from exposure to heat


Avoid exposing skin even when some cloud cover exists. Carry extra clothing as appropriate for the terrain and conditions. Carry plenty of water and food and keep hydrated. Use high factor sun block on exposed skin.

Avoid surveys in extreme cold or storm conditions.

Manual activities should not be carried out in very high temperatures; assess forecast and discuss with participants on the day.

Water available from The Ashcombe Bothy

Risk of Lymes Disease from tick bites


Staff & volunteers: Suitable dress should be worn.

Advise individuals to check themselves for signs of ticks at the end of the working day. Arms and legs should be covered when working in bracken and heather, particularly in summer.

Refer to the ENPA Tick Advice Leaflet. Or see http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Lyme-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx


Risk of complications arising from existing medical problems

For all on site activity days - First aid qualified staff/volunteers on site and first aid box available in The Ashcombe Bothy


Risk of cuts and broken bones whilst using hand tools – cutting back vegetation

Tools should be inspected before use. Do not use any tools that are damaged or have loose handles. Gloves must not be worn when using swinging tools, unless other hazards (e.g. plant sap) are greater. Maintain safe work distance. Sturdy footwear with a firm grip should be worn. Tools must be maintained in good condition and kept sharp.


Water hazards - slips, trips and falls resulting in accidental immersion or contact with underwater object

Harmful effects will vary ((hypothermia, drowning or bruising/strains/breaks/death)


Vegetation Management on riverbanks

  • Avoid entry into watercourse where reasonably practicable, particularly during conditions of high flow & turbidity.
  • Use safest point of entry.
  • Use sturdy walking pole for support whilst in water and to check the ground ahead of you.
  • Work facing upstream when possible.
  • Do not enter water if it is deeper than welly depth (25cm).
  • Wear footwear with good grip
  • Where riverbed is not visible, and/or underwater obstacles likely, do not enter the water.
  • Always have work alongside a second person


Additional info: Watercourses will vary in terms of depth, flow, turbidity according to local geography. After high flows and winter floods, debris can move across the riverbed.  Contact with underwater object can lead to puncture wound to feet, entrapment.


Risk of injuries from use of hand tools

Staff and volunteers to be given safety training on correct use of hand tools.

Tools must be inspected before use.  Any damaged or faulty tools (i.e. loose handles) must not be used.  Gloves must not be worn when using swinging tools, unless other hazards are greater (e.g. plant sap), and in which case use close fitting high grip gloves.  Sturdy footwear with firm grip must be worn.  Tools must be maintained in good condition and kept sharp.

Site is publicly accessible - ensure all tools are kept tidy, avoid obstructing pathways and ensure tools not in use aren’t a trip hazard


Cuts or other injuries from pulling vegetation

If pulling bracken or other sharp plants wear strong protective gloves.


Risk of back injury and strains from manual handling

All staff/volunteers should be trained in safe lifting, carrying and moving techniques.  Heavy and or awkward items should be carried between two people.  Ensure carrying aids are provided if necessary, e.g. wheelbarrow or sack truck.


Risk of blisters or rashes from contact with plant sap.

Staff & volunteers should learn to identify any hazardous plants, e.g. hogweed, wild parsnip. Work should be planned to avoid contact with hazardous plants. Individuals should wear protective gloves, long sleeves and trousers when working close to hazardous plants. Wash exposed skin thoroughly after any skin contact, and before drinking, eating or smoking. Staff & volunteers to be issued with information about hazardous plants.


Risk of impact with other vehicles leading to bruises, breaks, crushes, jarring or fatality whilst working near traffic.

Site is adjacent to car park.

All to take care and stay alert of moving vehicles when walking through the car park


Risk of illness, leptospirosis and fatality from biohazards, i.e. Tetanus, Leptospirosis.


Staff and volunteers are advised to keep Tetanus vaccinations up-to-date. Broken skin should be covered before work and any cuts received should be promptly washed and covered. Hands and gloves should be washed thoroughly before leaving site. Hands must be washed before eating/drinking


COVID19 precautions

All staff and volunteers to follow current government guidance.

Anyone who suspects they may have Covid19 symptoms to stay at home and get a covid test as soon as possible

Hand sanitiser to be made available. Stress importance of frequent hand washing

All equipment to be wiped down with antibacterial wipes prior to and after use. Participants to be advised not to share equipment.

Lead volunteers to carry a face covering in case of incidents.

Ensure a daily record is kept of those working on site is maintained for NHS Test and Trace purposes

Supply of antibacterial wipes and spray and face masks kept in the Ashcombe Bothy







Completed (Yes/No)

Example – Access Steps

Example – Check steps are free from obstruction and do not pose a slip hazard

Example - YES










Schedule Summary

This activity has the following schedule

Date Start Time End Time
Monday, November 01, 2021 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, December 06, 2021 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, January 03, 2022 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, February 07, 2022 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, March 07, 2022 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, April 04, 2022 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, May 02, 2022 10:00 AM 3:00 PM
Monday, June 06, 2022 10:00 AM 3:00 PM