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3. The Walks
Photography: Paul Fraser (also at Flickr – Paul Fraser Flickr Photostream )
Disclaimer: I don’t mean this to be negative, but I have provided this information in good faith and from my own experience of walking them with my son, and believe it to be correct at the time of posting. I cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions that you may find since I wrote this, or for any loss or injury you may experience undertaking these walks. It is your responsibility to ensure your own ability to complete these walks and the capability of the equipment you will be using.
I will however, revisit these walks over a period of time to ensure they continue to meet the needs I intended this guide for. Should you identify anything I may have missed, please let me know so I can look to update my information so we can all enjoy the outdoors safely.
The Walks: I have brought together 6 routes initially and detail the nearest town and approximate distance. Detail within the write up for each walk will identify useful information to make your wheel walk fully accessible. Each walk is fully accessible by wheelchair, either assisted, self-propelled or powered. As a consequence they are also ideal for pushchairs and walkers alike.
Wheel Walk #1 – Fleetwood, Rosall and Cleveleys Beach, Fleetwood. Lancashire
Wheel Walk #2 – Hollingworth Lake Country Park, Littleborough. Rochdale. Lancashire
Appx. Distance: 2.5 miles (4.0km)
Terrain: Tarmac and Gravel
Gradient: Mostly Flat, but with a couple of minor slopes
Equipment Used: Power-chair & Self Propelled Chair
Appx. Time to complete: 1 – 1.5hrs
Post Code: OL15 0AQ
Wheel Walk 3 – Healey Dell Nature Reserve, Healey. Rochdale. Lancashire
Wheel Walk 4 – Ogden Reservoir, Barley, Lancashire
Wheel Walk 5 – Brockholes Country Park, Preston. Lancashire
Wheel Walk 6 – Hawkshead Village, Ambleside. Cumbria
It was when my son became a regular Wheel Chair user that I became more aware of how relatively accessible our great outdoors is and the fantastic work local authorities and organisations have done to raise awareness and address ease of access to routes so everyone can benefit from our countryside. There are however many areas that remain inaccessible, or purport to be ‘accessible’ only to have cattle grids, or stiles or other ‘barrier’ somewhere on the route that stops access. Even more importantly, I feel there is not enough good accurate and useful information available on where you can walk with wheels confident of the route when you have mobility or access challenges.
It has been a real ambition to create information that gives sensible, truly accessible walking routes without stiles or hidden barriers – even if temporary – Regardless of mobility or access needs, I do believe everyone should have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and enjoy walking or wheel walking and taking advantage of all that our world has to offer. I want you to enjoy being outside and to find it a real pleasure, with focus being on enjoyment of the fresh air, physical exercise seeing and experiencing all there is and spending time with friends or family, not worrying about the route. An added ‘must have’ I have learned is the flask with a hot drink and picnic – demands of my son that I just can’t argue with.
I have look to identify a variety of things to look out for along each walk and have attempted to photograph both the route and aspects of interest to create a sense of anticipation and also confidence before your walk. I’d be happy to receive your feedback on these walks should you chose to follow them and indeed suggestions of walks that could be included for others to share. If there are any aspects where you feel I could add further useful information, please let me know so I can consider that too.
I had, and continue to have a fantastic time bringing this information together and with my wife and son finding these places to visit together without worrying about access, we have had occasions with blocked routes and distance too far for battery reserves, but even these have been fun to explore. I love the sense of taking an unexpected route or journey, just to see! and with appropriate precautions so you don’t get into trouble, that’s when many jewels are uncovered. My son uses both assisted wheelchair and a power chair with a battery life of around 6 miles, and all the walks in this guide are designed to meet the abilities of this equipment. Please ensure when I give approximate distances, your equipment is able to cover both the distance and terrain. I will give more ‘preparation’ considerations later.
I would like to thank my family who have not only supported me in writing these guides, but they have also experienced each walk and route with me. It has been great fun and given us the opportunity to spend more time together. I would also thank them for their utmost patience as I frequently stop to take a photograph, and have to either run to catch up or they are forever stopping with me – there is always something new to photograph each time we venture out.
I also want to thank all those people, many who are now dear friends who have followed our story, through pictures over the last few years through ‘Fickr’ and who have given me the strength, support and motivation to learn how to photograph with confidence and my heart, and use my own images throughout this site.
c. Lancashire and Cumbria
This guide will contain an initial six walks, but the overall number will be limited only by our being unable to get out to explore new opportunities ourselves or, contributions from followers not being offered.
I have tried to give an overview of each walk at the beginning of this guide. The type of terrain, gradients, distance etc. and the ‘wheels’ we have used to enable you to judge its suitability for yourself. If you find any of these unsuitable, or if you experience a particular difficulty that I have not covered, I’d love to hear from you so I can give thoughts as to how I can account for it.
My preference is to provide guides that are circular. Clearly if you end up where you start it makes it so much easier if you are relying on transportation to get to and from the walk, there are however some linear routes that I do not want to ignore due to the fabulous area they cover, however I have indicated where you may wish to consider stopping on these routes and returning the way you came to complete the walk, particularly important if you are reliant on battery power.
Some walks have additional activities on-route that you may like to involve yourself with. My underlying goal of undertaking this guide is to motivate the reader to get out and experience all the things they can, so don’t feel compelled to stick to the walk only, if you enjoy your trip as an overall outing, then even better. Again, I would very much like to hear what you did access on any of these walks as I would like to consider making the guide more fulfilling if I have not already covered it.
With my son having particular needs, I want to make sure he accesses what he can and experience as much as possible to make his life and world fulfilling. This needs to be done gradually to prevent any anxiety or panic and so some activities we see are purely that, looking and watching and talking about what we see, for example sea fishing, or yachting, bowls or kite flying, it doesn’t matter, but I need to understand what interests him, and look for those signs that may suggest this, so I can work out how to expose him to that activity more in the hope of developing his interest and maybe involvement.
Where I have found guides, or equipment that I feel are beneficial to consider in these walks I will make reference to them as again, I do want people to be able to access as much as is needed to be comfortable getting outdoors and to have as much information as possible.
We have walked all these routes ourselves to verify the accuracy of the information and we have used both ‘Days Healthcare 368-R Escape SP’ Self Propelled Wheelchair and ‘Care Company’s Sirocco MP1 DLX’ Power Chair.
Each journey has made us aware of a preference of chair, and I’ll explain why in each walk – generally where mild gradients are involved, the power chair is the ‘easier’ option. In our case, our son can independently control the speed and distance via a joystick and it will replace the ‘effort’ needed to push the Assisted Chair. I have tried to make the detail of each walk as detailed as I can to make sure you can plan your trip with confidence and you can decide the suitability for your own equipment, and stamina.
I have included notes on easy access parking, toilets and other accessible facilities as appropriate. I do however appreciate that needs and abilities do vary significantly, however I hope the detail I offer allows everybody to take advantage of these walks.
The highest point of the county is Gragareth, near Whernside, which reaches a height of 627 m (2,057 ft). Green Hill near Gragareth has also been cited as the county top. The highest point within the historic boundaries is Coniston Old Man in the Lake Distict at 803 m (2,634 ft).
Lancashire rivers drain westwards from the Pennines into the Irish Sea. Rivers in Lancashire include the Ribble, Wyre and Lune. Their tributaries are the Calder, Darwen, Douglas, Hodder and Yarrow. The Irwell is only partly in Lancashire.
To the west of the county are the West Lancashire Coastal Plain and the Fylde coastal plain north of the Ribble Estuary. Further north is Morecambe Bay. Apart from the coastal resorts, these areas are largely rural with the land devoted to vegetable crops. In the northwest corner of the county, straddling the border with Cumbria, is the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), characterised by its limestone pavements and home to the Leighton Moss nature reserve.
To the east of the county are upland areas leading to the Pennines. North of the Ribble is Beacon Fell Country Park and the Forest of Bowland, another AONB. Much of the lowland in this area is devoted to dairy farming and cheese making, whereas the higher ground is more suitable for sheep, and the highest ground is uncultivated moorland. The valleys of the River Ribble and its tributary the Calder form a large gap to the west of the Pennines, overlooked by Pendle Hill. Most of the larger Lancashire towns are in these valleys South of the Ribble are the West Pennine Moors and the Forest of Rossendale where former cotton mill towns are in deep valleys. The Lancashire Coalfield, largely in modern-day Greater Manchester, extended into Merseyside and to Ormskirk, Chorley, Burnley, and Colne in Lancashire.