The South West’s Beauty Spots Now Open to All
Alliance Members, Living Options Devon, operate a scheme called Countryside Mobility which aims to improve access to the countryside for people with limited mobility that are living in and visiting the South West region.
The scheme is being developed through a partnership between organisations that manage countryside sites across the region including: Cornwall AONB Service, Devon County Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Gloucestershire County Council, Dorset County Council, The Forestry Commission, Tamar Valley AONB Service, Royal Horticultural Society, South West Lakes Trust, The Wheelyboat Trust, The RSPB and the National Trust and many others.
It is supported through the Big Lottery’s ‘Access to Nature’ grant scheme and it enables disabled people to experience the outdoor environment through the use of ‘Tramper’ all-terrain mobility scooters and wheelchair accessible ‘Wheelyboats’
Based on the principle of urban Shopmobility schemes, Tramper all-terrain mobility scooters and wheelchair accessible Wheelyboats are now available at more than 30 countryside locations across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset with more to follow.
The Trampers can go up and down slopes, over bumps and tree roots, through shallow puddles, mud and soft ground and are for use by anyone aged 14 or over, and Wheelyboats can take up to 5 wheelchair users at a time.
The scheme is for everyone who wants to enjoy the countryside but need support to enable them to do so. To use the Trampers, people simply go to the website www.countrysidemobility.org choose their site and arrange their first visit, during which they will be trained in how to use a Tramper. There is a joining fee of £10.00 per year or £2.50 for 4 weeks but as members they can use a Tramper at any partner site without the need for further training.
Each site has been access audited and provides maps and route advice as well as having a breakdown/recovery system in place.
The scheme has created a network of accessible countryside locations that people can visit independently, and it has also helped countryside managers to become more ‘disability aware’.
The scheme is proving popular with people of all ages who want to get out and enjoy the countryside, but were previously faced with barriers.
For Rebecca the scheme has been life-changing. “At the age of 35 I did not expect to suddenly find myself needing a wheelchair and my life became extremely restricted. On holiday in Devon my husband and I came across the Tramper scheme purely by chance. It’s impossible describing the feeling of suddenly having the ability and freedom to go into the countryside again. Both Tramper trips were without doubt one of the best days of my life…to suddenly have independence again to explore and enjoy the countryside was truly amazing”
Full details about Countryside Mobility and a list of where Trampers are available can be found on the website www.countrysidemobility.org or by calling 01392 459222.
You can also find out more by following them on Twitter @CMSouthWest or Facebook CountrysideMobility.