The most accessible walks for older people this spring
2nd April 2019
Walking is a great way to keep fit and to keep the whole family entertained. Older people with mobility problems, however, may feel that they cannot go out walking because of their disability, but this is far from the case.
Now people with mobility problems who need aids like a new stairlift around their home can enjoy walking on accessible routes which take in the coast, gardens, rolling countryside and rugged moorland.
Take a look at this guide on the best and most accessible routes, including walks that are suitable for visitors with mobility aids.
Monsal Trail & other Old railway lines
There are lots of railway lines that are now popular walking routes around the UK and many of these are very accessible to walkers with mobility problems because the routes are flat.
Ian, who runs the site Come Walk With Me, explains why old railway lines are excellent walking routes:
“Many old railway lines have been turned into excellent accessible walks in the North West of England. The most famous is probably the Monsal Trail which runs from Chee Dale to Bakewell and is full of historical and natural interest. Other lesser known, but equally good trails, including the Tissington Trail and Middlewood Way, both are flat and the latter has beautiful wildflowers in Spring. Mam Tor in the Dark Peak is a little more challenging due to the rocky staircase to the top, but for a very short walk, you get stunning 360-degree views of the Edale and Hope valleys!
“Due to the fact they are on old railway lines the first of these three routes are very flat and are well surfaced making for comfortable walking. Each route passes or starts/finishes in bustling, interesting towns and villages with a plethora of sights to see and plenty of opportunities for refreshment and rest en route. Mam Tor is a little more challenging underfoot, but you can park at the foot of the staircase and from there it's around 500m to the wonderful summit.”
The North York Moors
County: North Yorkshire
Forged by nature and shaped over generations, the North York Moors offers walkers virtually everything you could want to see: moor, coast, forest and dale.
There is so much heritage and wildlife in the national park and there are so many routes you can follow during your visit to the region.
Sutton Bank and the White Horse
Laura Barr, who is the Marketing and Product Development Executive at North York Moors, recommends Sutton Bank and the White Horse as one of the most accessible routes you can follow:
“This old favourite takes you to the top of the most northerly turf-cut white horse in England along a 1 ¾ mile long route. The path is directly above the White Horse so you can’t see much of the horse itself, but the linear route along the escarpment gives you ample opportunity to savour one of the finest views in England, from the top of Sutton Bank.”
This is a predominantly flat route with stunning views of the ‘finest view in England’. The Sutton Bank National Park Centre is complete with parking, café and nearby toilets, making it a great place to take your time, relax and refuel.
Laura Barr also recommends the accessible Farndale trail in the North York Moors National Park.
“A spring walk in the so-called ‘Daffodil Dale’ to see Farndale’s glorious wild daffodils is unforgettable. It’s a straightforward 3½-mile linear route alongside the enchanting River Dove, from Low Mill to Church Houses and back, though there is an alternative return route that climbs through farm fields for some lovely valley views. Depending on the weather, the daffodils are usually out between mid-March and mid-April, but this is a charming walk at any time of year.”
This is a flat route offering stunning views along the river, with the Daffy café and pub in Church Houses.
Located in the heart of Devon, Dartmoor’s ancient landscape is famed for its stunning views, wooded valleys, granite tors, flowing rivers and, of course, its ponies!
Walking here will truly relax you and if you are on a family day out there are areas that are quiet and are perfect for a picnic.
Those of you with mobility problems can still enjoy everything that Dartmoor has to offer as there are lots of easy to follow trails you can stroll on. Here are some of the great routes you can follow.
Shipley Bridge to South Brent
Fi, who is one half of the popular walking blog Two Blondes Walking, says this accessible route will give you a really good taste of Dartmoor:
“From Shipley Bridge near to South Brent on Dartmoor's South Moor, you can walk upstream to the Avon dam and enjoy the river as it tumbles down the valley. There is a tarmac, pedestrian road all the way up to the dam and, for those who feel energetic enough to make the climb to the top, there are also some fantastic views across the reservoir and Dartmoor. Suitable for wheelchairs to the bottom of the dam. This walk is a favourite with families and the older generations alike and offers plenty of interest and a bit of Dartmoor history all up a gentle and pleasant incline. The car park is free.”
Burrator Reservoir trails
The reservoir is on the south side of Dartmoor is a great day out for families, nature enthusiasts and historians. There are abandoned farms, old tin mining examples and even the remains of a railway within easy reach from the reservoir.
Fi from Two Blondes Walking says there are lots of accessible routes older people with mobility problems can follow in this area of Dartmoor:
“Another great area for accessible routes is Burrator Reservoir, which offers plenty of options depending on how energetic you are feeling. Take things easy and enjoy the birdsong on the accessible arboretum route, explore on road and path all around the reservoir or head out on the old railway line and find some impressive moorland views. While you are at Burrator, make sure you visit the Burrator Discovery Centre and find out more about the history of the area through the Centre's interactive screen, spoken history and displays. On summer days you will usually also find an ice cream van for that after walk treat.”
Dubwath Silver Meadows and Ouse Bridge, Lake District
The 1.6-mile circuit gives walkers unrivalled access to the Lake District’s first wetlands nature reserve at Dubwath Silver Meadows and is a wildlife haven for nature lovers and bird watchers.
The boardwalks, which are actually made from recycled plastic bottles, provide access for wheelchair users and walkers with limited mobility.
Along the route, there are viewing points and hides and during spring you will be able to see a whole host of birds in the wetland. During this time of year, you will be able to see all the unique flora and fauna coming to life after the winter months.
There is also a 200-metre path at Ouse Bridge which gives visitors with mobility issues access to Bassenthwaite lakeshore.
There is a walk-on offer for people with limited mobility at Knole and along this 3-mile trail, you will get to see Kent’s only remaining deer park.
Spring is the perfect opportunity to visit this iconic trail as the weather improves and temperatures begin to rise. As well as the fallow deer herd, which have been living here since the 15th century, you will also get to see the impressive Knole House, impressive countryside views and dominating woodlands.
The route is great for walkers with mobility problems as it is predominantly flat and takes 1-2 hours to complete. If you are a dog owner, then you can bring them along too!
Spring is the perfect time of the year to get out and explore the UK’s nature. To recap, here are the top walks you should have on your bucket list:
- Monsal Trail & other Old railway lines
- Sutton Bank and the White Horse (North York Moors)
- Farndale (North York Moors)
- Shipley Bridge to South Brent (Dartmoor)
- Burrator Reservoir trails (Dartmoor)
- Dubwath Silver Meadows and Ouse Bridge, Lake District
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