With incredible views, stunning countryside or enjoyable cities in all parts of the country, it would be a bold statement to suggest that we’ve found the best routes – or even the best ‘accessible’ routes. The fact is that there are hundreds that will suit variously disabled people. We can however, give you a taste of what’s out there if you care to explore.
Walking, rambling, or as we gently term it, ‘strolling’, is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Whilst some will use it to improve ﬁtness, others will note that it’s a ﬁne way to pass time and enjoy the scenery. Strolling also avoids having to use a term which most accurately describes an endeavour undertaken by ambulant people. This feature includes them but is not exclusively for people that literally get around on foot…
The Brecon Beacons is a National Park in Wales, with the term ‘Beacons’ named for the sandstone peaks providing the outstanding features of the area.
The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has worked with disability groups for a number of years in ﬁ nding ways to help disabled people to access the countryside. This has resulted in improvements applied by the authority that include replacing stiles and steps with more disability friendly pathway furniture such as gateways and ramps. They’ve also worked on upgrading the surfaces of pathways to aid access.
The authority publishes an ‘Easier Access Guide’ outlining different routes and details referring to accessibility. They can also enable disabled visitors to enjoy less accessible areas of the park by hiring an all-terrain powerchair (Boma 7). To hire ‘Boswell the Boma’
One of their suggested strolls takes visitors past Llwyn-On Reservoir, a picturesque body of water surrounded by hills and forests in the central part of the National Park. The stone path can be accessed by several lay-bys on the A470 and includes accessible ﬁshing spots as well as an accessible bird hide with accessible toilets at Garwant Visitor Centre located just 200 metres from the reservoir.
A number of easier access maps are available to download from: www.breconbeacons.org
Although the Southbank isn’t your classic countryside path; and indeed has been derided for its modernist appearance, it deserves a place on this list if only to remind us that urban spaces make an intriguing twist for people looking for strolling routes.
If London has a centre of artistic expression, the Southbank might be it. The Southbank links up major attractions and iconic sites including the Royal Festival Hall, London Eye, the National Theatre, the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern in a single ﬂat stretch. Given that this is the centre of London, there are plenty of places where you can halt the stroll and pick up taxis, buses and the London Underground.
Whilst you might not see much wildlife, there’s always something happening on the Southbank, from buskers to street artists and sometimes even more polished performances that seem, especially, on warm days, to spill out from the cultural centres that punctuate the route.
Compelling reasons to stroll down the Southbank include its broad, paved boulevardstyle walkway and the fact that lined down one side is a collection of restaurants, bars, theatres, galleries and other public amenities that can provide the facilities you might not ﬁnd so easily on other strolls.
Derwent Water, near Keswick
The Lake District National Park covers a massive area in Cumbria, north west England. It’s always been a popular destination for strolling and really is picturepostcard worthy.
The Lake District has been a popular tourist destination since Victorian times. Rugged fell mountains and hills and of course the lakes themselves are well worth the journey with the addition of plenty of literary connections and small market towns to explore.
Derwent Water is one of the most well-known bodies of water in the Lake District National Park and is immediately south of charming market town, Keswick.
There are plenty of lovely waterside strolls in the area such as the one that starts from the access road to Hawse End where the path continues before a signpost for the lakeshore takes you off the tarmac road and through a wide gate.
From here, the path is two metres wide with a smooth, compacted stone surface. More wide gateways bring you to the lakeshore at Victoria Bay. The route goes south along the lakeside and through Brandelhow woods. Along the way you’ll see wonderful views of the lake surrounded variously by famed hills including Catbells and High Spy, Bleaberry Fell and Walla Crag.
A short stretch of tarmac leads to the woodland of Manesty Park and on to Great Bay with a further kilometre’s stroll on a recycled plastic boardwalk to the Chinese Bridge ﬁ nishing at the Borrowdale Road.
The New Forest
At 380 square kilometres, the New Forest is one of the largest remaining areas of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the south east of England. The New Forest covers parts of Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset – with much of it included in the New Forest National Park.
The extent of the New Forest means that you could feasibly stay in the area for a number of days and utilise several of the more accessible routes which range from just a few hundred metres to a few kilometres in length and indeed take in everything from woodlands and ponds, to rivers and cliffs – and the wide variety of wildlife that live in such diverse places.
The Forestry Commission has worked to make many of their sites around Great Britain as accessible as possible and have held themselves to the same high standards of general accessibility in the New Forest. They’ve established designated (way-marked) paths around the New Forest, supported by accessible toilet facilities in all car parks (with the exception of Knightwood).