With World Environment Day falling on Tuesday 5th June this year (2018) we’re encouraging you to get outside and enjoy the environment around you with this guide to a selection of accessible rambling routes.
Don’t forget to look after the countryside!
The focus for this year’s World Environment day is disposable and one use plastics and the damage they are causing worldwide. If you’re planning a picnic in the countryside look to use reusable picnic-ware and remember to either take your rubbish home with you, or dispose of it correctly. Littering not only looks unsightly but also poses a real risk to wildlife both on land, in the sea and in lakes and ponds. Be green, enjoy our beautiful countryside and look after it for the future.
Sourton Tor Ice Works
This ramble is a circular route starting from Meldon Reservoir, going to the ruins of the Ice Works on Sourton Tor. The mounds discovered on Sourton Tor are all that remains of the defunct ice factory that opened in the 1870s. Ice regularly formed in frozen ponds during the winter months which was then broken up and stored in a nearby building, before being taken to Plymouth for the fishing trade.
Scooters should travel slowly on the steeper sections of the moor, and everyone needs to take care in some areas such as on the access road from Meldon Reservoir to the Granite Way.
Ripon Canal and River Trust Wheelchair Friendly Route
This route begins at the canal basin, just outside Ripon city centre. Here there is a café and carefully restored houses with a carpark, but unfortunately no toilet facilities.
From the canal basin to the former lock keeper’s cottage and then the first lock, Rhodesfield Lock, much of this area is shaded by lovely lime trees. The path to here is wide enough for wheelchairs, making it entirely accessible.
Now you are in the countryside, and as you continue along the canal, there are wheelchair accessible platforms for fishing. It is a tranquil spot, a surprising contrast from the busy city centre. It is also noted for its birdlife with cormorants, kestrels and owls known to be in the area. There are plenty of picnic areas and bird and nature watching opportunities. The Canal and River Trust provide a helpful guide to the accessible walk at Ripon.
Yorkshire Dales, Malham Tarn
There are three routes to choose from; one of which is a circular route which runs along unmade tracks and quiet country roads, all around a glacial lake in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. There are beautiful places to stop and have a picnic if you wish. If you get in touch with Malham Tarn Estate office, you can hire all-terrain Wheelchairs to travel in. Get in touch with Malham Tarn Estate Office to hire a Malham Tarn Tramper.
Whisby Nature Park Wheel Friendly Route
Whisby Nature Reserve at Thorpe on the Hill, Lincoln, is an excellent place for all the family. There several accessible paths to explore around the lakes, for pushchairs and wheelchairs. You can hire electric scooters from the visitor centre. The lakes have accessible bird hides around them so you can watch the wildlife.
There are plenty of accessible parking spaces, an accessible café and shop. There’s a playground for the children and accessible viewing platforms.
The park is open daily, and it is free to enter.
Take a look at the map of this route.
Brighton, Stanmer Park
Stanmer Park estate covers 5,000 acres with a pretty village, church, farm, manor house, and cafe and is on the outskirts of Brighton near the campus of the University of Sussex. It is a beautiful park with very many varied paths through the woods. There is a five-mile easier accessible trail, but it does have some hills. There is a pub, tea room and toilets in Stanmer village and also a pub at Falmer. An ice cream van is usually parked at Ditchling Beacon.
Chilterns, Nettlebed to Nuffield
This route is in the Oxfordshire countryside and follows a mixture of tracks and quiet lanes. The paths ramble down to Swan Wood and Nott Wood, where the course then joins a calm lane to Nuffield. There is one section of road which needs a little care. The land around Nuffield Church is lovely for a picnic before heading back past English Farm and Howberrywood.
Snowdonia, Beddgelert Forest
This circular tour of Beddgelert Forest, which begins at the Forestry Commission car park, crosses the Welsh Highland Railway, so take care. The track goes around the edge of the forest, and on a clear day, there are lovely views of Snowdon and the neighbouring peaks. Turning south and descending the track then leads to the beautiful Llyn Llewelyn lake, which makes for an excellent lunch stop, but be aware the picnic bench is not accessible. Continuing a little further the track crosses the railway again and then continues onto the car park.
Sherwood Forest is providing access for all, with the visitor centre, restaurants and shops being fully accessible and wheelchair friendly. Many of the paths, such as the Major Oak walk, are accessible, but the oak is roughly half a mile from the visitor centre, and there are some small hills on the way.
There are accessible toilets at the Visitor Centre.
They also offer free wheelchair loan and electric mobility scooters (at £2 per hour) at Visitor Information. They cannot guarantee either unless you ring before your visit to check availability and make a booking on 01623 823202 (10.30am to 4.30pm).
Finding other routes
There are many more accessible rambling routes available than there used to be, as local councils, the National Trust and others are trying to make the UK more accessible for wheelchair users, with improvements already being implemented in a number of places.
There are groups on the internet such as Disabledramblers.co.uk, who are a group who help wheelchair users and other people with walking disabilities to get back out into the countryside.
The Theoutdoorguide.co.uk is a guide set up by Julia Bradbury and her sister Gina with lots of rambles from all around the UK.
Accessible Countryside for Everyone (ACE), a private project set up by Neil Pedley is also a fantastic site to look at. It provides free information on accessible places and rambles and promotes disabled access in the countryside in England and Wales.
There is also an app called ViewRanger™, which helps you get a map on your phone or other device and you can include walking with wheels as an option when searching. You can download it from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.
Don’t forget to think green – there is no planet B ;-).
Get out there with Sunrise Medical’s range of manual wheelchairs, powerchairs and mobility scooters.