Blue Badge Co. Top 5 Accessible National Parks UK
Where To Go For The Accessible Outdoors.
We have found some of the best wild country, wheelchair friendly places to explore and get some fresh air in your lungs! Here's our guide to our top 5 accessible National Parks in the UK. With the weather brightening up and the days getting longer, it's a great time to get outdoors and see the countryside. There are 15 UK National Parks in England, Scotland and Wales all of which have made efforts to accommodate people of all abilities and mobility issues. We've chosen our 5 favourite places to visit.
The New Forest
From the scenic coastline to the dramatic heathland and the mystical forest, the New Forest can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of their mobility.
Many accessible routes have been mapped out by the charity 'New Forest Access For All' NAFA. The charity no longer exists but the routes are still available online and to print out. We most liked the look of the Knightwood Oak walk. An easy route, taking in what is believed to be the oldest oak tree in the New Forest at around 600 years old. It is described as "a very easy, pleasant woodland walk on a good gravel or firm grass/gravel surface." CLICK HERE to find out more about Accessible Walks in the New Forest.
Or, if you're feeling more adventurous, why not try out accessible sailing with New Forest and District Sailabilty? CLICK HERE
There are plenty of options when it comes to getting out and about in the Yorkshire Dales, another of our very accessible National Parks.
Choose from one of the many 'Miles Without Stiles' routes, perfect for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The route maps are available to download as well as to buy as route cards at National Park Centres. We thought the route along the gorgeous valley of the river Rawthey looked like a great route for autumn colour. All manor of wildlife can be spotted if you're lucky. "Whilst walking along the river, look out for heron, dipper and goosander as well as nuthatch, tree creeper and long-tailed tit in the trees and hedges. In the late autumn look out for salmon jumping at the weir." Or you could opt for a more challenging experience and rent yourself a Tramper, an off-road, all-terrain mobility scooter. Available to hire, with advance booking, at only £5 for the day, you could have a real outdoor adventure! To learn more about The Yorkshire Dales accessibility in general and their 'Miles Without Styles' routes, CLICK HERE
To Learn more about Trampers, hiring and recommended routes, CLICK HERE
Exmoor is another of our accessible National Parks offering use of an all-terrain Tramper in some places, as well as having many wheelchair-friendly routes. They have done great work to make it possible to explore and enjoy the beautiful landscape, whatever your ability.
We think one of the best places to go on Exmoor is the Heddon Valley route. Take in towering cliffs and secluded coves, wooded river valleys and heather moorland on this accessible Exmoor adventure. From Hunters Inn to Heddon’s Mouth and back on a circular route of about 1.5 miles. Travel alongside the River Heddon to Heddon’s Mouth where you reach the spectacular viewpoint, looking out to sea. If you'd like a slightly longer route there is a 4-mile alternative, from Victorian Carriageway towards Woody Bay, offering "some of the finest coastal views in the South West." There is a steep hill on this route though so Tramper users must be accompanied by a non-disabled person for safety reasons. To find out more about accessibility on Exmoor in general CLICK HERE
And for the Heddon Valley routes CLICK HERE
There are 48 routes across the Lake District National Park which are suitable for people with limited mobility, including wheelchair users, families with pushchairs, and the visually impaired. The walks are listed by number as well as being marked on an interactive map on the website, with links to details of the route.
We liked the look of route 42 from Lanthwaite Wood, a popular route leading to the shore of Crummock Water. The views over the lake to Mellbreak and surrounding fells are allegedly "breathtaking." For information about the Lanthwaite to Crummock Water route CLICK HERE
Or, once again, if you fancy your hand at sailing you could make use of the wheelchair accessible motorboat! To find out more CLICK HERE
North York Moors
Unlike the other accessible National Parks in our list, the North York Moors doesn't have a great 'Accessibility' section on its website. Or if it has, it's not easy to find! There are, however, plenty of accessible routes to follow and some great places to visit.
We've chosen, Dalby, the Great Yorkshire Forest on the southern slopes of the North York Moors with over 8,000 acres of woodland to explore and enjoy. Accessibility provision includes 16 extra-wide parking bays for disabled visitors in the main car park 200 metres from the Courtyard complex or Visitor Centre. Apparently, there are all-ability 'waymarked walks' suitable for wheelchairs throughout the forest but there doesn't seem to be any information about those walks on their website. Presumably, you can get maps from their various visitor centres, I should phone ahead if I were you and ask for more information to plan your visit. There is free electric buggy hire available from the Visitor Centre. The Centre has internal and external disabled toilet facilities, lift, automatic doors and mini-loop system. For more information about the Dalby Forest route CLICK HERE
Or contact them here: North York Moors National Park Authority The Old Vicarage, Bondgate, Helmsley, York, North Yorkshire - YO62 5BP Telephone: 01439 772700 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Brecon Beacons website has a page listing all of the disabled access walks with links to more details of each route. The Brecon Beacons National Park Authority has done a lot of work recently to improve disabled access, with help from local disability groups. There is also a link on the page to download a map of the Easier Access Routes.
We liked the look of route number 25. the Talybont Reservoir & Forest Walk. A scenic, 3km long reservoir surrounded by steep hillside, forestry and farmland. Most of the forestry tracks near the reservoir are level but get steeper the further up the hill you go. If you can handle the incline, it will be worth it for the views of the reservoir and surrounding hills. There is also a bird hide suitable for the disabled. To find out more about route 25. Talybont Reservoir and Forest Walk CLICK HERE
Another way to enjoy the less accessible areas of the park is by hiring an electric all-terrain 'Boma 7' Wheelchair. Different to the Tramper but offering the same freedom to join friends and family on less wheelchair friendly walks. For more information and how to hire 'Boswell the Boma' CLICK HERE
Thanks for reading, and happy Tramping! from www.bluebadgecompany.co.uk
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