Accessible autumn and winter walks
7th November 2019
There’s nothing better than fresh air; not only can it improve your digestion, strengthen your immune system and improve your blood pressure, but getting out and about is a great form of low-impact exercise.
The transition from summer to autumn is one of the most beautiful, with crisp leaves turning shades of amber and auburn and a blanket of frost coating the grass, so there’s never been a better time to put on your walking boots and explore the country. Then, once the nights have grown darker and the temperature becomes a little chillier, you can discover winter routes that showcase the natural beauty of the UK.
Despite there being a plethora of wonderful walks on your doorstep, the seasons can sometimes cause challenges, particularly regarding accessibility. An increase in rain can create muddy terrains and patches of ice. So, it is important to look at the route that you’re considering before you set out.
If you’re looking to explore the best of what the countryside has to offer this autumn and winter, take a look at this selection of accessible walks for you to try.
North York Moors National Park
The North York Moors National Park is the perfect option for those searching for an accessible walk. With a number of routes on various terrains, wheelchair, tramper and scooter users should be able to find the ground manageable, although it is important to check the stability of your mobility aid first, as the terrain may be uneven in some parts, particularly after periods of bad weather.
Whilst at the North York Moors National Park, visitors can expect unrivalled views out over Sutton Bank and panoramic vistas of Runswick Bay. We spoke to North Moor National Park Authority who informed us that this was a brilliant place for an accessible walk this autumn. They shared:
“Thanks to a wonderful range of accessible paths no one need miss the sheltered woodlands, rugged coastlines and stunning heather moorland of the North York Moors National Park. There is so much to see and feel and with so many easy access routes of less than three miles the National Park is truly open to all.
“One route at Cawthorn Roman Camps, near Cropton, is a perfect example. This easy-going 1-mile trail offers you the opportunity to discover some remarkable Roman fortifications built nearly 2,000 years ago whilst also experiencing some beautiful vantage points over the North York Moors.
“Then there’s another route within the Esk Valley, near Grosmont. This 3-mile route is a fantastic outing, along a section of the disused railway line, in the company of the tumbling Murk Esk. This and so much more awaits any eager traveller. Each of these easy access paths is fairly level and is also suitable for wheelchairs and scooters capable of travelling over rough ground.
“We have also had some amazing feedback for our new Tramper scheme launched at Sutton Bank National Park Centre and the National Trust Ravenscar Visitor Centre. The electric all-terrain mobility scooters, otherwise known as Trampers, are designed to cover rough terrain allowing visitors with limited or poor mobility to explore the landscape.
“One user, Malcolm Lees said: “I am a wheelchair user and so imagine how lucky I felt when we booked a mobility vehicle from your Sutton Bank National Park Centre. We met a very nice man, called Peter, who checked my documents and explained, very thoroughly about the vehicle.
“I would like to thank the National Park and Peter for supporting people with a disability, giving them the chance to see and use the facilities of your establishment – this is absolutely fantastic. May I say that by providing this vehicle you have opened up your facility to more disabled people as well as opening up another chapter in their ongoing struggle for equality.”
“The scheme has been set up in partnership with Lake District Mobility and is currently running on Tuesdays and Fridays at Sutton Bank National Park Centre. It is also available at the National Trust Ravenscar Visitor Centre on Fridays at 10 am and 1 pm.
“All of our easy access routes are made even more special during the autumn and winter months. Crisp, clear skies, leafless woodlands cloaked in mist, exposed heather – there is so much you don’t want to miss as the colder months creep in.”
Not only are there six routes in the North York Moors National Park that are considered to have easy access, but the park centre has an electric wheelchair that visitors can borrow free of charge if needed. The North York Moors National Park Centre also has an accessible toilet, a platform lift for internal access and a loop system at the information desk. Whilst making your way around the grounds, the circular trail and wildflower garden have level access with tarmac and grass paths.
The New Forest
Hampshire is the perfect setting for an autumnal or winter walk. The district is blessed with coastal views, charming villages and the beautiful New Forest. The New Forest is the perfect setting; towering trees, wild woodlands and uninterrupted views of the countryside, you’re truly in for a treat whilst enjoying a walk here.
The New Forest has been a national park since 2005 and covering 566 square kilometres, there is a lot for you to see and do. The Forestry Committee has created designated footpaths for accessible walks, such as the route around Cadman’s Pool. Here, the gravel, concrete and firm grass paths offer a 500m walk or a slightly longer, 0.9-mile option. Alternatively, choose something slightly longer for the perfect afternoon activity, such as the path at Hordle Cliffs or Sturt Pond.
When heading out for an autumnal or winter walk, you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of the UK. This is especially true in Aros Park, where you can wander past waterfalls and look out over the loch. The circular path is the most popular route here; stretching for a mile, the terrain is moderately bumpy and includes a few steps so, if you use a stair lift at home, this may not be the best option for you. Alternatively, the route from the Alainn View car park to the lookout tower is short and sweet and involves walking along a smooth path that’s perfect for wheelchair users.
In the car park, visitors can find plenty of parking, as well as easy-access facilities for wheelchair users and people with low mobility. Although the autumn and winter months are perfect for exploring this area, during the summer months you can also light up the barbecue and sit at a picnic bench.
Exmoor National Park
The South West is a wonderful, largely untouched, area of countryside that is truly breathtaking. Whether you’re looking for a route to wander in the early morning, watching the sun slowly rise or somewhere to spend the afternoon, Exmoor National Park is ideal, with plenty of places for you to visit. Given the unruly and wild nature of the national park, you may be mistaken for thinking that a walk on Exmoor is unattainable for those in wheelchairs or with low mobility. However, there are many routes that have fantastic access, and several locations including Heddon Valley and Dunster Castle also have all-terrain trampers available for you to use.
The Exmoor National Park Authority has made it simple to decipher if a trail is suitable for you. Kays are available on many of their walking guides, as seen in this one created for Haddon Hill.
What are some of the best accessible walks to enjoy this autumn and winter?
The UK is fortunate enough to have a variety of incredible places to explore over the coming months. From the Scottish countryside to the moorlands in Devon and Somerset, here is a recap of some of the best accessible walks for you to try this autumn and winter:
- North York Moors National Park
- The New Forest
- Aros Park
- Exmoor National Park
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.