A charity is enabling people to adventure and explore outdoors, regardless of how far they can walk, through the use of a ‘Tramper’.
Many of us enjoy exploring the grounds of beautiful country houses, park areas or coast path. We are blessed with a wide range of places to visit, where we can experience the changes in seasons, colours and sounds of nature and the peace and quiet that this can bring. Frequently such walks lead to a tea or coffee shop, with views that can continue to be enjoyed over refreshments. Yet for many, this is where their outing begins and ends, due to being unable to walk even a small distance.
The Countryside Mobility scheme, run by Devon charity Living Options Devon, is ensuring that the South West is a truly ‘accessible’ environment for everyone by improving access to the countryside for people with limited mobility.
Based on the principle of urban Shopmobility schemes, ‘Tramper’ all-terrain mobility scooters are now available at more than 30 countryside locations across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset with more to follow.
It is a scheme which is proving extremely popular with people of all ages who want to get out and enjoy the countryside, but previously were unable.
For Nevil Salisbury-Rood, from Chard in Somerset, the Tramper has been life-changing.
Nevil said: “I really enjoy wildlife photography and I visited the Penrose Estate in Helston, Cornwall and used the Tramper because I can’t walk very far. It allowed me to get around part of the lake and out onto the South West Coast Path which is something I would never be able to do normally because of my bad leg. The coastal views are fantastic and I shot some great photos”.
The Trampers can go up and down slopes, over bumps and tree roots, through shallow puddles, mud and soft ground and are for use by anyone aged 14 or over who has a permanent or temporary condition that affects their ability to walk. With a top speed of four miles an hour they can keep pace with the briskest walking companion.
James Maben from Countryside Mobility explains:
“Trampers are for everyone who wants to enjoy the countryside but can’t manage much walking. You do not have to be registered as a disabled person, or have a Blue Badge. Many people have found that Trampers have given them back their freedom, enabling them to enjoy time outdoors alone, with their partner or on a family outing. With such a varied selection of sites now involved, people with limited mobility have some fantastic opportunities to get out and explore the region. There is something for everyone – from wild Exmoor moorland to peaceful country parks and beautiful sections of the South West Coast Path.’
To use the Trampers, people simply choose their site and arrange their first visit. On arrival, they join as members of Countryside Mobility which costs £10.00 per year or £2.50 for 4 weeks. Training is provided on how to use a Tramper lasting approximately 15 minutes. They are then given a membership card, which enables them to use a Tramper at any partner site without the need for further training.
Prior to a Tramper being placed at a site, an access audit is completed by Countryside Mobility staff to ensure that the site is suitable and safe for use by Trampers. Each site provides maps and route advice for Tramper users and has a breakdown/recovery system in place if a user has a problem.
The scheme is being developed through a partnership between organisations that manage countryside sites across the region including: Cornwall AONB Service, Devon County Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Gloucestershire County Council, Dorset County Council, The Forestry Commission, Tamar Valley AONB Service, Royal Horticultural Society, South West Lakes Trust, The Wheelyboat Trust, The RSPB and the National Trust.
The scheme has been supported with a grant from Natural England as part of its Access to Nature programme, funded from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme.
Full details about Countryside Mobility and a list of where Trampers are available can be found on the website www.countrysidemobility.org or by calling 01392 459222. You can also find out more by following them on Twitter @CMSouthWest or Facebook CountrysideMobility.