Category Archives: Accessible Exmoor

NEWS FROM CALVERT TRUST EXMOOR

All Terrain Wheelchair Carriages arrive at CALVERT TRUST Exmoor

Calvert Trust Exmoor were delighted to take delivery of four NOMAD wheelchair carriages from Adventure Mobility recently.

Thanks to a generous donation from The Aubrey Orchard-Lisle Charitable Trust (Charity no. 1151335), the centre was able to purchase four carriages, and plans to keep two at the centre, and two at nearby Saunton Beach.

The two designs are: the NOMAD Tundra (pictured right), which is designed for standard wheelchairs and is suitable for users with good core body strength, and the NOMAD Desert (pictured left), which is ideal for bespoke and non-standard wheelchairs as it loads with its own on board ramps.

Jon Cawley, Activities Manager for Calvert Trust Exmoor, said, “These NOMAD carriages are a fantastic addition to our fleet, allowing guests who are wheelchair users to stay in their chair but go places that their chair would not normally be able to go! The team is looking forward to pushing new boundaries with these carriages in the coming months, as we explore their capabilities further.”

Adventure Mobility was started in June 2014 by father and son Phil and Rod Pugh, as a means of providing a better quality for their family member Tom, and others like him. Tom is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy. He relies entirely on his wheelchair and on more than one occasion has been restricted because of its physical limitations.

BBC Radio 4 Appeal

On Sunday 18 September at 7.55am, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast an appeal on behalf of the three Calvert Trust Centres in Exmoor, Northumberland and The Lake District. The appeal is being made by Frank Gardner, and features the story of Calvert Trust guest Scott, and his mum Claire.

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As well as being BBC Security Correspondent and a bestselling author, Frank Gardner (pictured) is also a former guest at Calvert Trust Exmoor, having stayed at the centre in 2007 as part of his recovery programme.  Frank became a wheelchair user in 2004, after being shot six times at close range whilst reporting in Saudi Arabia.

Scott, whose story you hear in the appeal, loved learning to cook over an open fire; his mum Claire said “it felt very safe there. We are both more positive, with lots of ideas to try, and a changed approach to life.”

The appeal will be repeated on Radio 4 on Sunday 18 September at 9.26pm, and again on Thursday 22 September 2016 at 3:27pm, and will also be available to listen to again online after the first broadcast, via www.calvert-trust.org.uk/R4

 

REPAIRS TO BRIDLEWAY BETWEEN SIMONSBATH AND WHEAL ELIZA

Exmoor National Park Authority has carried out a major repair to the public bridleway between Simonsbath and the Wheal Eliza ruins.
This two-kilometre level section of path now has a good even surface that is largely free of mud and deep water making it a great choice for those who prefer a gentle stroll.
Dan Barnett, access manager at Exmoor National Park, says: “It is a wonderful section of the Two Moors Way that follows the River Barle through woodland and highly scenic moorland along to the historic Wheal Eliza mining ruins, the notorious site where a young girl was tragically murdered by her father in 1858.
“We hope that both local people and visitors will now find it easier to enjoy this lovely area.”
The route is now considered suitable for Trampers or other off-road capable mobility vehicles via a lower route that has been reopened at the start at Simonsbath. The route begins on the opposite side of the road about 90 metres below the Exmoor Forest Inn. The works have been part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Heart of Exmoor landscape partnership scheme.
The route will be inspected after this winter to ensure is has all bedded in well and further improvements to the signage and online supporting information will follow in the spring.

Making Porlock Marshes More Accessible Thanks to CareMoor

Thanks to the support of CareMoor and all those individuals and that support the scheme, access for all has been improved at Porlock Marsh.

The Marsh offers one of the few areas of level walking near to Porlock, but since the incursion of the sea 18 years ago it has become increasingly difficult to access. After consultations and working with the National Trust, Porlock Parish Council and Natural England it was agreed that the most appropriate way to improve access would be to build a boardwalk. The 126-metre structure was built by a local contractor and is designed to be accessible to people who find rough ground difficult to walk on, it can also be used by a Tramper mobility scooter.

The curved design was chosen to both follow the route of the footpath and also to look more appropriate in this special environment. It has been built as low as possible to minimise its visual impact and the structure is quite unusual in that it is submerged during spring high tides by up to 2 metres.

The work was largely funded from donations to CareMoor, the official conservation and access fund for Exmoor National Park, along with a contribution from the Parish Council. A review of CareMoor has been undertaken and there will be some new changes to the scheme launched next year. If you are interested in participating in the scheme please contact Philip Kiberd, Funding Officer.

Calvert Trust Wins Gold

calvert trust 1Calvert Trust Exmoor are very pleased to have won two Gold awards and Winner of Winners at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2013-14, which took place in Plymouth last week.

Calvert Trust Exmoor runs the only five-star activity centre in the country, and caters for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and levels of ability, together with their families, friends & carers. Activities on offer include sailing, horse riding, wheelchair abseiling, accessible cycling and archery. Over 3,700 guests had a residential break with Calvert Trust Exmoor last year.

The two Gold awards were in the “Access for All” and “Tourism Sport and Experience of the Year” categories.

Tony Potter, Chief Executive of Calvert Trust Exmoor, said: “This is fantastic news that rewards all the hard work that the Calvert Trust Exmoor team consistently put in; we are so pleased to be recognised for delivering an excellent experience for anyone and everyone, of any ability or age. Going on to win the Winner of Winners award was the icing on the cake; I was delighted to be able to accept these awards on behalf of our whole team.”

Regarding the Winner of Winners award The Judges said: “There are no criteria for this award. At the end of the judging panel meeting its members are asked to identify any entrant which, in their view, has shone out as an exemplar in its field. On this occasion the debate was short. This year’s Winner of Winners was visited independently by two mystery visitors. Both of them came away declared themselves “inspired” by a business that is doing things that others regard as impossible, or simply hadn’t thought of. It is a genuine exemplar to all tourism businesses on how to widen their audience, be accessible, and deliver excellence.”

With Gold in both the Devon and South West Awards this year Calvert Trust Exmoor are now looking forward to the prospect of represent the region in the National Visit England Awards for Excellence 2014 in May.

Mobility Scheme Wins Bronze

Left to right: Jon Avon, Stover Country Park Manager for Devon County Council, Jenifer Littman MBE from Tourism for All, Sally Shalam, Guardian Travel Writer, Ian Jubb, Countryside Mobility membership officer, Yvonne Pope, Living Options Devon Disability Champion, Nevil Salisbury-Rood, Living Options Devon trustee and access auditor,  James Maben, Project Manager for Countryside Mobility
Left to right: Jon Avon, Stover Country Park Manager for Devon County Council, Jenifer Littman MBE from Tourism for All,
Sally Shalam, Guardian Travel Writer,
Ian Jubb, Countryside Mobility membership officer, Yvonne Pope, Living Options Devon Disability Champion, Nevil Salisbury-Rood, Living Options Devon trustee and access auditor,
James Maben, Project Manager for Countryside Mobility

A charity based in the South West has been awarded bronze in the ‘Access for All’ category at this year’s South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

Countryside Mobility was presented with the award at a black tie ceremony held at the Holiday Inn in Plymouth.

Run by charity Living Options Devon, the Countryside Mobility scheme helps to make some of the South West’s top tourist attractions and countryside locations accessible to people with limited mobility.

The scheme has already successfully sited all-terrain mobility scooters known as ‘Trampers’ and wheelchair accessible ‘Wheelyboats’ at more than 30 countryside locations across the South West for hire by members.

James Maben, Project Manager for Countryside Mobility, was thrilled with the result saying: “2013 was a great year for the scheme with a growth in the number of partner sites involved and record numbers of people benefiting from the service. Winning this prestigious award is a real stamp of approval from the tourism industry and the icing on the cake at the end of a bumper year. We are delighted to have received this recognition but even more pleased to be able to open up various locations to people with limited mobility.”

Tracy Higgins from Bristol is an active user of Countryside Mobility’s Trampers and was delighted with the win, commenting: “I am thrilled to hear that the scheme has been recognised with this award. The positive impact it has on those struggling to access the countryside is considerable. As a member of the scheme and a regular user of the Trampers I have now been able to enjoy beautiful parts of the South West which before would have been completely out of bounds for me, whilst providing me with a new sense of adventure and independence.”

The South West Tourism Awards are hotly contested each year and this year was no exception with a total of 350 entries.

Small B&Bs through to large tourist attractions were put through their paces as the judges spent a total of 20 hours whittling down the entries to just 63 finalists over 16 categories.

Each finalist received either a Gold, Silver or Bronze award and 53 will now go forward to the Visit England Awards in May, including Countryside Mobility.

James added: “We have now submitted our entry into the 2014 Visit England Awards and would like to thank everyone that has helped to make our application as strong as possible, highlighting the important work that is taking place.”

For further information about The Countryside Mobility Scheme please visit www.countrysidemobility.org

Exmoor snowdrops accessible for all in 2014

Snowdrop Valley by the late Brian Pearce, courtesy Elaine Pearce
Snowdrop Valley by the late Brian Pearce, courtesy Elaine Pearce

The magnificent abundance of snowdrops which light up a sheltered corner of Exmoor each year are a very welcome sight. These delicate white flowers bring with them the promise of spring as they display their blooms in the fresh February air. Rumoured to have been brought over to Exmoor by Benedictine Monks from nearby Dunster, this floral extravaganza attracts visitors from all over the country.

Get your wellies on and enjoy the 30-40-minute scenic and well signed walk from the West Somerset village of Wheddon Cross down to the snowdrop loop in the Avill Valley. Alternatively pick up a Park & Ride bus from the village which runs regularly throughout the day between 1-23 February. This year the buses are being run by local Minehead company AtWest. On Mondays the company are able to transport wheelchairs and small mobility scooters down into the valley.

Event organiser Nic Wigley explains: “We are running these buses as a trial this year and, because seats need to be removed to fit the wheelchair in, we are asking visitors with wheelchairs to book a time slot. Anyone with mobility challenges who is not able to visit on a Monday can also visit during the last week when the buses are not running. They can request a Vehicle Mobility Pass which will allow them to drive down into the valley in their own vehicle. We are keen to make the valley accessible to all.”

Once again the West Somerset Railway (www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk) will be running its popular combined steam train and coach connection to see the spring flowers. Leaving from Bishops Lydeard Station to Dunster by steam train, passengers will hop on board a coach for a picturesque Exmoor journey to Snowdrop Valley.

Welcome hot drinks are available in the village at Snowdrop Café in Moorland Hall, which will be manned by local volunteers, and the village Inn and tearooms will also offer light refreshments.

More details at www.wheddoncross.org.uk and information of things to see and do and accommodation in Exmoor, Quantocks and the West Somerset Coast area can be found at www.Visit-Exmoor.co.uk

£40K investment opens up Coast Path to thousands of wheelchair and pushchair users in time for Christmas

Tramper mobility scooter on the South West Coast Path by Countryside Mobility South West
Tramper mobility scooter on the South West Coast Path by Countryside Mobility South West

The completion of seven coastal access schemes along parts of the South West Coast Path, and the addition of 40 extra walks on its website means that now, for the first time, thousands of people with limited mobility and those with young children in pushchairs are able to enjoy stretches of the breathtaking National Trail that were once impassable.

Newly accessible walks include parts of Padstow where a £24,000 project to improve the surface and widen the path in Stile Field, which both Cornwall Council and Padstow Town Council helped to fund, now means that as well as enjoying the Christmas market and seasonal lights in the harbour, many more families can discover more of the town from the Coast Path.

The work has been funded by the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and partners, including the National Trust and local authorities, as part of the South West Coast Path Team’s ‘Unlocking our Coastal Heritage’ project, which is nearing completion. This has seen a total of £2.1 million invested over three years to conserve, enhance and interpret the Coast Path and is made up of four key strands.

One element of Strand 2, which covers route improvements to enhance the cultural corridor, has seen wheelchair and pushchair access improved at various sites including Port Isaac, Treyarnon Bay, North Tehidy Country Park and Penrose Estate in Cornwall, as well as Putsborough, Bolberry and Revelstock Drive in Devon. The accompanying walks take in all these improvements, as well as many existing parts of the Coast Path and other rights of way that were already accessible but no detailed route description was previously available. Heddon Valley on the Exmoor coastline was one of the first walks to benefit from the introduction of Tramper mobility scooters through a separate project led by Countryside Mobility South West, which has opened up many parts of the Coast Path to new users.

Other improvement projects undertaken within this strand to create more easy-going routes have made the Coast Path more accessible through minor capital works such as removing stiles and replacing them with wide gates. This will benefit many users that have limited mobility and attract new users who may have previously found these routes difficult.

Bella Crawford, from the South West Coast Path team, says: “Almost 20% of the UK population is disabled (around 11.5 million), so this improvement work has fulfilled a very real need and will improve the lives of lots of people who in the past have been unable to enjoy the full beauty of the South West Coast Path. A key feature of ‘Unlocking our Coastal Heritage’ has been about creating a legacy so that everyone can access the Coast Path for years come.”

Earlier this year, the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, identified the need for coastal towns to tackle the issue of access and has called on local authorities to act. This project shows that for many parts of Devon and Cornwall at least, the issue is being addressed, making the Coast Path, and the seaside resorts it links in with, more inclusive.

For more information about the Unlocking our Coastal Heritage project and the four strands that are designed to conserve, enhance and interpret the Coast Path, visit www.southwestcoastpath.com/RDPE

Photo caption: Tramper mobility scooter on the South West Coast Path by Countryside Mobility South West.

National Trust Rangers improve North Devon’s Coastal Paths

DSCF0968-greg-welcombeOver the summer months the National Trust have been busy making improvements to the South West Coast Path and the amenities that serve it, thanks to various sources of funding including the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and the Great South West Walk.

In West Exmoor rangers and volunteers have worked hard to level and drain stretches of footpath at both Countisbury and Trentishoe making them more comfortable for walkers to enjoy the spectacular coastal paths and rocky headlands in North Devon. And visitors to Lester Cliff in Combe Martin will once again be able to enjoy panoramic views along the coast where rangers have been busy cutting down the scrub.

The Heddon Valley car park has been resurfaced to provide year round use. The car park, which already benefits from public lavatories, a National Trust shop selling ice cream and Tramper mobility scooter hire, will soon be planted out with fruit trees from which people will be welcome to pick apples to have with their picnics in September. In the spring, summer and autumn months, oil drum barbeques will be available to use free of charge.

Along the coast at Croyde, Woolacombe and Mortehoe there have been further improvements to the south west coast path, with Rangers redefining and resurfacing paths, and excavating and digging gutters to provide a more safe and even surface. Popular rocky headland paths at Bull Point, Morte Point and Baggy Point have all benefited from this work. Easy access improvements to the path in Putsbourough will mean a much better experience for cyclists, horse riders, and mobility users as well as walkers.

IMG_0163signpostRangers have also replaced a badly worn out flight of steps at the pretty village of Bucks Mills on the North Devon coast near Clovelly. Some of the funding for this project came from nearby local business Steart Farm Touring Park. Many of Robert and Lesley Croslegh’s customers are attracted by the beautiful scenery and walking opportunities around Bucks Mills and the new steps help locals and visitors alike access this wonderful section of the coast.

The work at Bucks Mills is just one of 12 projects being undertaken on land cared for by the National Trust between Bideford and Welcombe Mouth. Between the Rangers, local contractors and 22 steadfast volunteers, improvement work has been carried out on over 50 metres of boardwalk at Babbacombe near Peppercombe and 12 old stiles have been swapped for oak gates between Brownsham and Hartland Point making this scenic path much more accessible for all.

“This grant opportunity has been energetically taken up by the Ranger teams along the North Devon coast who have managed to deliver this excellent range of improvements for everyone to enjoy visiting the coast more easily. We hope that people get out and enjoy the variety and spectacle of the coast even during the winter,” says Steve Mulberry, General Manager, North Devon.

Accessibility of Events on Exmoor

‘People can feel more confident about attending the many accessible events that take place on Exmoor’ – this was the key theme at a workshop jointly hosted by the Exmoor National Park Authority and the Heart of Exmoor scheme recently at the newly opened Lynmouth Pavilion.

The event was attended by range of organisations and individuals including both event organisers and those with expertise and personal experience in accessibility issues. There were presentations from Richard Pitman of Taunton-based Compass Disability Services and an update on recent work on developing “Phototrails” in Exmoor.

Interpretation and Education Manager at Exmoor National Park, Ben Totterdell, said: “Every year hundreds of events take place on Exmoor, from guided deer walks to village fetes and art exhibitions. However, for many people with disabilities there is often not enough information about these events for them to feel confident about coming along – or simply not enough events that are planned with the needs of people with disabilities in mind.

“It was great to have so many people there who are all committed to working together to ensure Exmoor can be enjoyed by everyone. I certainly learned a lot and will be looking at how we can improve our events programme and information for next year.”

David Rolls, Heart of Exmoor Outreach and Education Officer said: “Exmoor has a host of wonderful opportunities for everyone and I thought the day was very constructive in highlighting many of these. The event was part of the wider “Access for All” project which Exmoor National Park and the Heritage Lottery Fund have been financially supporting.”

The UK’s first digital fingerpost signs point the way for a new generation of walkers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe South West Coast Path is pioneering the use of new mobile phone technology to make it easier for people to search for local walks on the go.  New signs, which have a QR code and Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, are being added to existing wooden sign posts at key car parks along the Coast Path to upgrade them to ‘digital fingerposts’.  These are now in place at various points along the route in South Devon, including Start Point (above), and will gradually be rolled out across the entire 630-mile trail.  Using the digital signposts, smart phone users will now be able to scan and download quickly and efficiently more than 500 walks from the South West Coast Path website.

Says Andrew Measures, 39, from Ashburton in Devon, who was among the first to test the Start Point digital fingerpost sign: “I’ve been really impressed by how quick and easy it was to get the walk on my mobile phone, and it’s been great being able to discover a new route I’d never have known about.  I think this new mobile phone technology will revolutionise the way walks are planned in the future.”

Mark Owen, South West Coast Path National Trail Officer, adds: “While most people will be familiar with QR codes, which can be scanned by downloading a free QR reader app, NFC chips are simpler to use, and take advantage of the touchless technology that is built into most Android and Windows smartphones.  When a phone is gently tapped against the sign it then instantly opens up a web page with local walks on. As the NFC chips are cheap, robust and require no battery power or on-going maintenance it was fairly simple to add these to our new signs.  This, coupled with our newly launched mobile website, makes us truly accessible for walkers on the go.”

The new digital fingerposts can be found at the following points across South Devon: Torcross tank car park; Start Point car park; Bolberry Down; Bantham; Beesands; North Hallsands; East Portlemouth; and Thurlestone North car park.

Smart phone users can also download walks via a QR code at key access points on the South West Coast including mainline railway stations such as Barnstaple and Penzance, and smaller branch lines, such as Looe and Exmouth.

This project is part of the Strand 3 element of Unlocking of our Heritage project. For more information, visit www.southwestcoastpath.com/RDPE