Accessible walks to try whilst social distancing
26th August 2020
Walking a mile can burn almost the same amount of calories as running a mile and it is a great form of exercise for people of all ages and a terrific way to explore a place.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, although national lockdown has been lifted, social distancing measures are still in place and because of that many people are trying to avoid busy areas as much as possible.
The restrictions regarding quarantining after visiting some countries around the world have also seen lots of people opt for a staycation and if you are looking at going on holiday in the UK or are just an avid walker, this guide shares some of the best and most accessible walks that you can try whilst social distancing.
The below walks include some that are off-the-beaten-path so you can safely socially distance as well as being accessible walks so those of you who have mobility problems who need walk in baths or stairlifts at home can still enjoy these routes and the attractions they offer.
Accessible walks to try whilst social distancing:
•Princetown to King’s Tor on Dartmoor
•Sandwood Bay on the Cape Wrath Trail in Scotland
•Letchworth in Greater London
•Loch Morlich in Scotland
•The Parkland trail in London
•Bolberry Down in Devon
Princetown to King’s Tor
Location: Dartmoor, Devon
Dartmoor has something for everyone as history lovers can explore castle ruins and learn about local myths and families can enjoy the nearby attractions, but the main draw for many are the different walking trails.
With the current coronavirus pandemic, it is also a great place where you can enjoy a walk and be safe in the knowledge that you will be able to socially distance away from others due to the volume of trails that are on offer.
Fi Darby, who runs the Two Blondes Walking blog along with Lucy, talks about an accessible walk on Dartmoor that they would highly recommend to people with mobility problems.
“From Princetown on Dartmoor follow the old railway line out towards King’s Tor. This is a wide track suitable for wheelchairs and with only a slight incline. You’ll feel like you’re walking across open moorland and will be able to breathe in Dartmoor’s wonderful fresh air, admire a few majestic tors and maybe even spot a few Dartmoor ponies. Back in Princetown, you will find plenty of cafes and our wonderful Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre (accessible).”
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Sandwood Bay on the Cape Wrath Trail
While the Cape Wrath Trail is well-known in the walking world for being a long-distance walk from Fort William to the northwesternmost point of mainland Britain, Cape Wrath, there are sections of it that are accessible to all.
The route leading up to Sandwood Bay is off-the-beaten-path and is full of magnificent wild landscapes. It is a great option if you are looking for a decent-sized walk and this stretch of the route follows tarmac tracks and well looked after paths.
Roel Zerner, the author behind the walking blog Beat The Trail, highly recommends this section of the Cape Wrath Trail.
“As someone who's main experience on the British Isles involves walking the length of Scotland, one recommendation is a more scenic part of the Cape Wrath Trail. While this trail has a somewhat fearsome reputation as one of Scotland's most difficult long-distance trails, there are definitely parts that are more accessible to those not able to cope with the country's rough and boggy landscape.
“One of those parts is the route leading up to Sandwood Bay, near the trail's end at Cape Wrath. This is a part where rolling seaside hills and idyllic towns create a gentle landscape with well-maintained paths. The route to the bay meanders through an open landscape dotted with small lochs. To top it all off, the route leads to Sandwood Bay and its white sand beach cornered in by dramatic ocean cliffs. This is easily one of Britain's most scenic beaches! A nice day's walk would start at the Sandwood Bay car park in Blairmore, from where a clear and even path leads northwards to the beach. Those of an average fitness level would walk this in two hours, with another two hours getting back to the car park. This means that if you want to take things a bit slower, you'd still be able to make this into an unforgettable day out!”
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Location: Greater London
Letchworth Garden City is a scenic town just north of London in Hertfordshire. The area is an interesting mix of countryside and city living and is a great destination for people looking to get out of London and away from its busy streets.
Marlys and Michael, the couple behind the Easy Hiker site, highly recommend older people to head to Letchworth as there are lots of accessible walks that you can enjoy.
“This walk gives you the opportunity of walking in the footsteps of town planners from all over the world, teetotal socialists, Quakers and – perhaps – even Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. They all sought inspiration (or refuge) in the town of Letchworth (north of London, trains from Finsbury Park) which was founded in 1905 as a blueprint for the ‘city of the future’. Its concept of a ‘Garden City’, the attempt to combine the best of country and urban living, has never really caught on, but it remains a fascinating experiment and has acquired a new relevance as we struggle to re-define urban living in the age of the coronavirus.
“A two-hour walk through the streets and park-like spaces of Letchworth (design your route with the help of the website Discover Letchworth) will inspire, challenge and delight you, particularly in the autumn when the seasonal change of colour will lend a somewhat befitting air of melancholy to this noble-but-eventually-unsuccessful experiment in townscaping.”
Loch Morlich has been dubbed a gem of the Cairngorms as it is Scotland's only freshwater, award-winning beach. The sandy bay is also home to a wide range of activities and is particularly popular with water sports enthusiasts.
Loch Morlich is also full of loch-side forest walks which offer spectacular views of the snow-clad peaks of the northern Cairngorms.
It is another area of Scotland which Roel Zerner from Beat The Trail recommends walking as there are lots of accessible trails older people and those with mobility issues can try.
“Another place I can highly recommend isn't as much of a single route, but an easily accessible area that offers a multitude of walking options. The landscape surrounding Loch Morlich, near Aviemore in the Cairngorms, offers a wide range of walking paths through a low and easily accessible forest landscape. To get to Loch Morlich, you can simply take a bus from Aviemore, or drive there yourself. Walking maps can be purchased at any of the tourist information centres in the area!”
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Location: North-central London
The Parkland Walk in north-central London is 5.2 miles long in total and although there is one hill along the route, it is mainly flat so people with mobility problems can easily walk the route.
This Parkland Walk is a well-known nature reserve and is a great place for people living or visiting London to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
Marlys and Michael from the Easy Hiker blog love this walk and they said it is a really accessible walk that people with mobility issues can follow.
“The most interesting green spaces in urban areas are not manicured parks but abandoned industrial estates that have been repossessed by nature. The Parkland Walk in north-central London (it starts opposite Finsbury Park tube station) is a prime example for such a space. It follows a railway route to Alexandra Palace that was constructed in the 1860s and last used in the 1970s (the track was lifted in 1972) and provides a fascinating blend of decaying transport infrastructure, dense forests (many trees were planted in 1984 when the route was opened to the public) and views – from the old railway bridges – across the residential streets of north London. The walk has a total length of approx. 7 km but is subdivided into a more urban southern section (to Highgate) and a leafier stretch through Muswell Hill and Alexandra Park.”
Location: South Hams, Devon
Bolberry Down is an easily accessible and wild stretch of coastline which is full of stunning coastal walks between Salcombe and Hope Cove in Devon.
There are some challenging walks available, but there are lots of level and surfaced circular trails which offer great sea views and are home to an array of wildflowers living on the cliffs.
The Bolberry Down area is one that Fi Darby from Two Blondes Walking, who have been featured in Channel 4’s 'Devon and Cornwall' and ITV’s 'Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100', highly recommends.
“Head for Bolberry Down in the South Hams and enjoy a wheelchair accessible clifftop path. This walk has stunning views over Hope Cove towards Plymouth and fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. If you are lucky, you might even spot dolphins playing in the waters below you. There are plenty of benches, designated disabled parking spaces and free car parking for National Trust members.”
Other accessible walks
•New Forest – There are lots of accessible New Forest walks available to visitors and these include the Janesmoor Pond route and the two-mile Lymington Town Trail.
•Ceredigion – Head to the east of Aberporth in Wales and follow a wheelchair friendly route, which was created in 2009, and boasts some stunning views.
•Knole – Visit Knole in Kent and enjoy an all-ability walk in the county’s only remaining deer park.
If you suffer from mobility problems and need aids such as walk in baths, stairlifts or wheelchairs then here are some ideas on the different walks which you can try during the current coronavirus pandemic.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.