Being passionate about the countryside and being outdoors means I love nothing more than exploring everything our country has to offer on foot.
Although I enjoy passing over quirky stone styles in the Yorkshire Dales and scrambling up rock edges in the Lake District, I am very aware that many people are unable to access all the areas that I can due to a disability or ill health.
Mobility Nationwide are currently running a campaign called ‘Travel for All’ to promote accessible travel for all people and aims to highlight wheelchair-friendly destinations around the UK. Hearing about the campaign got me thinking about the places I love to visit and whether they are accessible for people who use wheelchairs. Here are three awesome outdoor locations in my beautiful home of Yorkshire that are geared up for people using wheelchairs:
The Sutton Bank Easy Access Circular route | Kilburn | North York Moors
One of my favourite areas to explore is the North York Moors, about an hour away from where I live. Last year, I walked right across it along the Lyke Wake Walk with fellow Outdoor Bloggers, Allysse from Beste Glatisant and Zoe from Splodz Blogz.
Part of the Lyke Wake walks follows the Cleveland Way, a more well-known National Trail that horseshoes around the North York Moors. Recently, a section of the Cleveland Way has been made into a circular route that is accessible for all called the Sutton Bank Easy Access Circular. The 8.5km walk takes in some of the finest views in Yorkshire from Sutton Bank. The walk starts at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre which has accessible parking, toilets and refreshment facilities. The route passes the famous White Horse of Kilburn, which reminds me of my grandma, as I used to see it from the car as we travelled along the A19 to her home near Middlesbrough. The White Horse was created by a head teacher and his pupils in 185 in a similar way to many of the other hill-side white horses around the country that date much further back in history. Gliders from the Yorkshire Gliding Club can be seen from close proximity as they fly above Sutton Bank. The walk provides the opportunity for people who have impaired mobility to be able to enjoy travelling a route independently or with support from a carer.
Download a PDF version of the leaflet here for more details.
RSPB Fairburn Ings | Nr Castleford| West Yorkshire
RSPB Fairburn Ings is a fantastic location for anyone interested in nature, walking and beautiful scenery. Formally a coal mine, the reserve is now a series of lakes as a result subsidence and the site holds the record for the highest number of bird species recorded at any inland site in the UK.
The reserve is geared up for people using wheelchairs and those who have difficulty negotiating uneven ground and steps, with a series of boardwalks, hardcore paths and a ramp leading to the Visitor Centre. Entry is free of charge and blue badge holders benefit from free parking.
I worked at the reserve for a year as Visitor Officer and my job was to ensure visitors had a fantastic time visiting the reserve. The reserve is visited by a wide demographic, not just keen birders, because of the good facilities it has to offer. Snacks and hot drinks can be bought from the Visitor Centre which also sells cups of bird seed you can give to the many swans on the lake.
For those interested in birdlife, marsh harriers, avocets, black-tailed godwits and goosander can often be seen. The highlight, though, has to be the kingfishers. There is an area not far from the Visitor Centre that is accessible by wheelchair where the kingfishers tend to hang out. They are seen pretty much every day meaning your chances of seeing one are pretty good if you are prepared to wait for a while.
The friendly staff are always on hand anyone who needs it and you can even book a guided walk around the reserve which is perfect for those keen to learn more about the flora, fauna and history of the site.
Burnby Hall Gardens | Pocklington | East Yorkshire
The gardens of Burnby Hall are an absolute delight in the months June to August when the water lilies are at their best. The National Collection of water lilies were originally founded by the wife of Major Stewart, the original owners of the estate from 1904.
I visited the gardens last year with two friends and the experience exceeded my expectation. There’s a small museum filled with an array of wondrous artefacts from around the world, collected by Major Stewart throughout his 8-word tours between 1906 and 1926. Animal heads, warrior knives, leather goods, books and musical instruments from around the world are on show with lots of interesting information about their origin and the Major Stewart himself. The Lilies Café overlooks the gardens and has a good variety of warm and cold food on offer.
Burnby Hall Gardens holds an Age UK award for its facilities for disabled people. The gardens, gist shop, museum and café are all wheelchair friendly and there’s a wheelchair available to hire on site. Admission is £5.00 for adults and £4.30 for seniors.
Can you recommend any wheelchair friendly outdoor attractions?
This is a collaborative post with Mobility Nationwide who are promoting accessible travel with their ‘Travel For All’ campaign. All words and views are my own.