Making the outdoors accessible to all
12/12/2018 News | Blog
By Scout Ambassador, Julia Bradbury
Scout Ambassador Julia Bradbury’s TV presenting has taken her all over the world, walking and climbing across Europe and Africa. Now she tells us all about The Outdoor Guide – an online resource she set up with her sister Gina that brings together information for walks all around the UK.
It’s no secret that I’m passionate about the outdoors. The benefits of spending time in nature are well documented – it gives a huge boost to our health and particularly our wellbeing, giving us the time, space, and perspective we need in our busy lives. I also believe it’s one of the best places to learn skills like resilience, tenacity, and teamwork.
Scouts don’t need asking twice to go into the outdoors. It’s always brilliant to see Scouts hiking in groups large and small on expeditions. For me, it’s a privilege to help inspire more young people to enjoy the outdoors, and I’d like to thank every volunteer who makes this possible. You are an inspiration.
I believe we all have a duty to help young people develop an understanding, respect, and appreciation of nature at early age – and that these are gifts they carry with them throughout their lives. I invariably find that those who show a care and respect for nature demonstrate care and consideration for other people too.
Promoting wheel friendly walks
However – are we as a nation doing enough to make the outdoors accessible to all? I’m so proud to work with those with reduced mobility to improve access to our countryside, identifying and spreading the word about wheel friendly walks across the UK.
On The Outdoor Guide (TOG), an online hub for all things outdoors, we’re sharing wheel friendly walks all around the UK. We’re inspiring wonderful days out in the hills, towns, and canals, including the perfect pit stops and the perfect cuppa too (very important!).
We’re lucky to benefit from the passion and expertise of disabled AccessTOG ambassador, Debbie North. Like us, she’s committed to making the countryside accessible for all. Debbie develops wheel friendly walks for wheelchair users and people using pushchairs.
Before she became a wheelchair user, Debbie was a keen hill walker. She spent much of her time in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, and had completed long distance walks such as the Dales Way and the Cumbria Way.
‘I spoke with the National Parks about accessible trails,’ says Debbie ‘and the need for more challenging and exciting walks with wheelchairs. I began researching all terrain wheelchairs too.’
Following major spinal surgery, Debbie is stronger and is now fulfilling her passion of hill walking using an all terrain wheelchair. She also fulfilled a major ambition: ‘In 2015 I completed a Coast to Coast Journey from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay using a 4×4 all terrain wheelchair.’ I’m sure you’ll agree that she is a trailblazer! Here are four accessible walks, all tested by Debbie, to give you a flavor of what’s available.
Dovedale, Peak District
Explore the limestone gorge of Dovedale and its famous stepping-stones on this wheel friendly walk in the Peak District National Park, with plenty of rest stops and places to stay nearby.
This wheel friendly walk around the coastal village of Overstrand in east Norfolk delivers a fascinating sense of history. Overstrand is an attractive village, situated on a cliff overlooking a beautiful sandy beach.
Discover abandoned tin mines, rugged outcrops, and stunning coastal scenery on this trail along the South West Coastal Path. Perfect for fans of Poldark, this walk starts near Levant mine (the setting for the fictional Tressider Rolling Mill), where (thanks to Countryside Mobility SW) you can hire a rugged ‘Tramper’ mobility scooter for a small fee.
Staffin Bay, Isle of Skye
For a slightly more challenging venture, visit the quiet and relatively undiscovered beach of Staffin Bay on the north east of the Isle of Skye.This route follows the coastal road around the bay and provides some simply stunning views, as well as the chance to glimpse seals or even a whale.
However you choose to access the countryside, don’t let the cold or poor weather put you off – it’s worth it every time. There’s always something to be learned and a story to be told. Enjoy!