I have been in a wheelchair since 2008. Before that my passion was hill walking. Now in a wheelchair I look to create and explore accessible wheelchair friendly routes for people with all types of mobility problems, whether it be the wobbler or full time wheelchair user.
I have a wealth of experience in assessing routes. I am a volunteer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park and a member of the Local Access Forum. One of my roles, as a volunteer, is to assess and review the ‘Miles Without Stiles‘ routes.
For each walk I look at the width of the path and the gradient of the track. In addition to this, I look at the furniture on the route. It’s always good to have a bench or somewhere to perch your bum… the walker may want to take a break, especially if they have been pushing a manual wheelchair! Furthermore, it’s reassuring to know that there are places to rest, especially if someone has limited mobility. As well as this, we try to identify the accessible loo stops too… we don’t want anyone getting caught short!
As well as writing a description of the walk for AccessTOG, we also travel all around the UK filming wheelchair friendly walks. Our short videos, which give a flavour of the walk, are proving very popular. The feedback has been people like to see the walk as it gives them enough information so that they can make an informed decision as to the suitability of the walk for their own wheelchair. The videos are available on the website or on our YouTube channel which is free to subscribe to.
Do the National parks have wheelchair friendly walks?
There are 15 National Parks in Great Britain, all of which offer some form of accessible walk. For example in the Broads National Park there is the Barton Board Walk, in the Dartmoor National Park they have the ‘Easy Going Walks’ In the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Parks, there are several routes for wheelchair users called “Miles without Stiles’
My research across all the National Parks websites have highlighted the varying range of information re wheel friendly walks – for some parks I do feel that the information is not as good as it could be and this is something that I will be looking more closely at over the next year to see if we can improve access information. In addition to the information on the National Park’s websites, accessible walks in some of the National Parks can be found on The Outdoor Guide.
What else can you find on AccessTOG?
As well as the walk we also find the accessible place to stay. We find disabled friendly hotels in the UK and self -catering holiday accommodation with wet-room facilities. We are finding that people are wanting to know whether there are hoists available at the properties and whether or not there are profiling beds. There are so many things to think about!
This year I have stayed in some super places, such as Cottage in the Dales in the Yorkshire Dales
We are aware that the range of people’s disabilities are vast and there is no ‘one size fits all’ when in comes to meeting everyone needs. However, we are very truthful with our descriptions of our walks and of the places that we stay. We hope that people who have wheeled our routes or have stayed in our recommended accommodation have enjoyed what they experience. We would really love to hear about your walks and your holidays and hope that you will share your photos with us. It is with your help that we can continue to grow AccessTOG.
We look forward to hearing from you via our community blog.