A Guided Walk with a Difference!

Dartmoor’s Wheelchair Access Group (WAGs), led by two Moorland Guides, have spent a day at East Dartmoor NNR testing a route for the Dartmoor Walking Festival in August (24th-1st September) to see what was possible for a wide range of wheelchair users.

We met at Middle Trendlebere car park and the first route we explored was the one from the car park, across Trendlebere Down to the Yarner Wood access gate near the leat. The views were great, but the camber of the path was challenging and the short, steep hill near the end involved some pushing by the walkers in the group and some determined driving by those in the mobility scooters! It was decided this is not a route to be recommended.

Beautiful views across Trendlebere, but the camber was challenging!

Once in Yarner Wood the forest tracks are wide and the inclines suitable for the scooters being used. We found a good route to the Woodland Centre where we had lunch in the sun. Then we followed Yarner stream and came back to the Woodland Centre past the Copper Mine. We ended back at the car park via the offices, up a steep hill and past the new bird hide at the reservoir.

Top: On the wide track at the entrance to Yarner Wood (accessed from the Middle Trendlebere car park) Bottom: A wide track in Yarner going past the Copper Mine workings

We then wanted to visit Pullabrook Meadow, this would give us a walk of heath, forest and river. We got to the Lower Trendlebere car park, and then, wanting to avoid the road, followed the path to the Old Manaton Road. This was steep and twisty through the trees, and over the roots, and at the end we discovered a small ditch beside the road. Everyone negotiated this, but it was decided that this option could not be used for the Walking Festival and we would have to use the road for a short distance.

The track down to Pullabrook Meadow was more difficult than I, an able bodied walker, anticipated. Despite two years of walks with the WAGs group I can still be surprised at what the scooters and more importantly their drivers can manage, and then sometimes at what is difficult. In this case, the loose gravel on a steep incline, caused problems for some. Although we never reached the meadow we did get to the river which was beautiful in the sun.

When we run this walk during the Dartmoor Walking Festival, on August 25th, we will concentrate on the paths in Yarner Wood, which are suitable for Category 2 mobility scooters, as elsewhere a category 3 tramper or equivalent off road scooter is needed.

A great day was had by all and it was extremely useful preparation for the Walking Festival.

By Dawn Williams, Moorland Guide and Natural England Conservation Leader volunteer

Sunday 25th August – Accessible Walk – for mobility scooters at East Dartmoor Nature Reserve
Start Location: Middle Trendlebere Car Park (SX782793). Start Time: 11:00am, ending at 3:00pm. Skill Level: Moderate for walkers, or Grade 2-3 for those with wheels. Dogs permitted on leads.
Cost: £5 Donation to the Devon Air Ambulance Charity
Guided by Disabled Ramblers with Moorland Guide, Dawn Williamson Further information Tel 07557 330557 Booking required by email at dwilliamson55 at hotmail dot com

This Accessible Walk is part of the Dartmoor Walking Festival which runs from 24th August – 1st September with a packed programme of events. This year there is something for everyone, as the Moorland Guides have teamed up with the National Disabled Ramblers to include accessible events for the less mobile.

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