Pushchair Walks, Wheelchair Walks, Easy Access, Access for All, Miles without Stiles – whatever the term, in an around our area are some of the most accessible countryside and green spaces in the country. Features Writer Rob Bullock examines some of our best.
We have some of the loveliest countryside in the country. We have coast, mountains, woods, fells and parks. Lancaster District has stunning Morecambe Bay and sits alongside the lakes and dales. But, sometimes accessing green spaces can be difficult if you have mobility issues, or are accompanying someone who does, or perhaps if you have very young children who need a pushchair. But there are some terrific local destinations where everyone is accommodated. Here is just a small selection.
Lancaster District – Conder Green cycle path
Situated 4 miles to the south of Lancaster just off the A588, Conder Green is just ½ mile from the historic seaport of Glasson at the beginning of the Lune Millennium Cycleway. There is a ramp to a picnic table with views over the Conder estuary and wheelchair access to the Coastal Way can be gained from Conder Green Picnic site (The entrance road to the picnic site is in front of The Stork public house). This route can take you into Lancaster on the Millennium Route or you can keep going all the way to Morecambe or head inland towards Caton. Taking this route, you might just be lucky enough to see some wonderful coastal birds or wildlife.
South – Preston – Brockholes
A short drive down the M6 from Lancaster District, at Brockholes Nature Reserve you can take a walk along the River Ribble, explore the ancient woodland and amble around the lakes. There is a good network of accessible trails and hides, as well as free use of a wheelchair, disabled facilities and car parking spaces.
Most of the footpaths at Brockholes are level and surfaced. The kissing gates are accessible for smaller wheelchairs and pushchairs and are shown on the Trail Access Guide.
Lakes – Staveley Riverside
The Lake District operates the Miles without Stiles schemes and has over fifty accessible routes within the national park of which the Staveley Riverside route is one of the quieter ones.
Reach the footbridge over the river Kent by either bypassing the front of the glass fronted Hawkshead Brewery in Mill Yard or heading along Main Street to St Margaret’s Chapel and taking the public footpath on the left. Continue past the weir, built in 1853, and continue alongside the deeper waters of the river. Watch out for kingfishers and dippers speeding by. The path soon reaches a minor road. Continue along this to Barley Bridge and turn left and left again to return to the village centre. Once past the church, Back Lane is the quietest route to the Mill Yard.
Forest of Bowland – Tramper Trails
The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty website has a number of Tramper Trails available for download. The Tramper Trails have been graded using the Disabled Ramblers 1 to 5 categories and these vary in distance and terrain, providing a range of experiences to suit those seeking a simple outing to those looking for something more challenging.
Dales – Clapham Nature Trail
The Yorkshire Dales National Park also operates the Miles without Stiles scheme. These routes are suitable for those in wheelchairs, buggies or even walking dogs who cannot negotiate stiles easily. They are all under 2 miles.
The route along the Nature Trail is a well surfaced track of compact stone with a general width of two metres. There are benches along the full length of the route. There is a gentle incline along the full length with some gradients reaching 1:8. The Nature Trail was set up by the Ingleborough Estate to commemorate Reginald Farrer, a botanist and seed collector. The woods are home to many species of rhododendrons, shrubs and alpine plants that he collected in China, Tibet and Upper Burma in the early 1900s.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park has two trampers, one at the visitor centre in Malham and a second is available at Clapham to explore the lovely Nature Trail up to Ingleborough Cave. Please get in touch with the Trail and Cave at Clapham to book.
This is just a small selection of accessible routes for a day out even if you have mobility issues or are with someone who does. But please check with your specific destination before visiting.