Summer is a great time to explore the British countryside, but it can often be inaccessible for those with mobility needs. However, there are groups like the Disabled Ramblers who are helping people access the countryside while using their mobility scooters.
In this article, disabled journalist and rambler Ian Cook spoke to disability blogger Pippa Stacey about her experience with the Disabled Ramblers. She spoke about her first countryside ramble on a mobility scooter and how she prepared for the day.
As a teenager, Pippa became disabled and had to re-adjust to life with a chronic illness. It took her some time to find ways of doing the things she loves, while managing her health condition. She works as a freelance writer, speaker, and communications consultant in the charity sector.
In recent years she’s been building up her confidence to start travelling again and going out on adventures. She decided to go on a group ramble with the Disabled Ramblers, a small charity working across England and Wales that organises and shares information on accessible countryside rambles for people with limited mobility.
Ian: What made you want to try going out on a countryside ramble?
Pippa: Before chronic illness, I always took spending time in nature for granted. It was only after I could no longer leave my home that I realized how much it mattered, and recently, I’ve found myself craving the outdoors like never before. I had no idea that organizations like Disabled Ramblers existed, but as soon as I discovered them, I signed up. From then on, I was counting down the days to the upcoming ramble taking place in North Yorkshire!
Ian: And how did you prepare for your first ramble?
Pippa: I have limited energy due to my condition and have to pace my activities very carefully, so it takes careful planning to make little adventures possible for me. In the past, even figuring out where to start would have felt overwhelming.
But the great thing about the Disabled Ramblers is that they have a wealth of experience in leading excursions. They sent over clear information in advance and were able to advise on anything I should bring on the day, like extra clothing and an emergency first aid kit.
The group is also working to diversify access to outdoor spaces and they organize amazing group rambles all over the UK, so people could choose to travel somewhere new or take part in a ramble closer to home.
I was able to hire a Tramper (all-terrain scooter) for the day and take part in the group ramble exploring the North York Moors, close to where I live.
Ian: What was your experience like on the day of the ramble?
Pippa: The ramble I took part in happened a few months ago. A group of around 15 disabled people, plus additional guides, trekked through the forest and countryside around the stunning Roseberry Topping in Guisborough.
It was truly one of the most mindful activities I’ve taken part in for a long time. Going on an accessible ramble meant I could immerse myself in the outdoors more than I have in almost a decade, and I loved it so much that by the end my face actually hurt from smiling!
Ian: One of the reasons I love to go on disabled rambles is that it gives me an amazing sense of freedom. What was the best thing for you?
Pippa: I really loved being in a group setting led by experienced ramblers, because it meant I didn’t have to spend valuable time and energy trying to follow directions and figure out whether I was on the right path. I could just enjoy the ramble without having to worry.
I had packed for all climates, but we were very lucky with the weather. We trekked through the woodland and emerged into the countryside, with the sun shining down and amazing views ahead of us. It was incredible!
Ian: And what would you say to other disabled people interested in ‘the great outdoors’ – would you recommend a disabled ramble?
Pippa: I believe we should all be able to enjoy what nature has to offer us, whatever your mobility needs. I know the thought of planning outdoor adventures can feel daunting sometimes, but a group setting like Disabled Ramblers is a fantastic place to start. Don’t be afraid to give it a try!
Interested in joining the Scheme?
The Motability Scheme offers an all-inclusive package. If you are in receipt of a qualifying mobility allowance you can use it to lease a car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV).
As well as having access to a brand-new vehicle of your choice, your Scheme lease also provides a worry-free package – which means that breakdown cover, servicing and maintenance are all included in the price you pay.