Access for all - with a little help from the Disabled Ramblers

The Disabled Ramblers group outside Sticklebarn

We have a plan to significantly improve access for mobility-challenged visitors in Langdale by installing two all-terrain hydro-powered electric Trampers for people to borrow from Sticklebarn.

Our hope is that those people who cannot access the countryside easily on foot will be able to enjoy a day Tramping along the off-road cycle trail between Sticklebarn and Elterwater. We discussed this idea with the Disabled Ramblers group and they kindly agreed to come along for a ramble in Langdale and undertake an access audit for us.

On a sunny day in July we set off on an adventure from Sticklebarn, it was great fun and afterwards, over a round of sandwiches at Sticklebarn, we received lots of detailed feedback on the route from the group. Overall we learnt that in its current condition the trail isn’t far off the mark and everyone agreed that, with a few tweaks here and there, this could be a fantastic route for Trampers.

Eileen Tomlinson, the Disabled Ramblers Rep for the North West, said; “Langdale is A* for disabled ramblers, it’s a nice valley and it’s a route you can do all year-round.”

Disabled Ramblers is a charity that started in 1999, to help mobility-challenged people get back out into the countryside. The group organises a national programme of supported rambles and usually manages about 30 rambles per year across England and Wales.

Eileen became a member of the group in 2003 and she hasn’t looked back since, she said; “For me, getting out with company is the key, I get to see beautiful places and it’s sociable too.”

The group has a small fleet of off-road Trampers for the use of members who don’t have their own, but the logistics of moving the Trampers around the country can be difficult and expensive.

“This is why projects like this one in Langdale are so great; they allow us to increase numbers on our rambles without having to tow our Trampers from elsewhere in the country,” Eileen said.

Laura Whittaker, National Trust Ranger in Langdale, is delighted that the Disabled Ramblers are keen to help with the project, she said; “The input that the Disabled Ramblers are giving us is so valuable. During their visit they picked up on improvements that would never have occurred to me, but will make all the difference to our less-mobile visitors.”

“The added benefit with this project is that our hydro scheme at Stickle-ghyll will allow us to charge the Trampers with hydro-electricity, making them kind to the environment as well as our visitors.”

Now we know what needs to be done to improve the trail, the hard work really begins, but our plans don’t stop there. Over the next winter we intend to upgrade the facilities at Sticklebarn to make it more wheelchair friendly, including new disabled toilets.

There is still a lot of detail to work out, but our aim is to have at least one of these Trampers installed at Sticklebarn by next summer. We’ll keep you updated on our progress on our website.