Tramping about: accessing nature

Threes flowers coming off a central stem. It's known as Red Campion, but it's actually pink.
Silene dioica – Red Campion

I had plans. I had so many plans. I wanted to visit the gardens of Iran. Soak up the history and culture of Morocco. Travel to the Caucasus on an alpine plant holiday of discovery. I wanted to finally be fit enough to walk up to the top of Yr Wyddfa (Mt Snowden). Hell, I wanted to travel throughout Australia, where I spent much of the first thirty years of my life, but was then, too poor to afford to travel.

The same person on a different part of the trail, only with more trees around them that haven't yet come out into full leaf. The path is quite thick stones, which the tramper can more easily get over than a standard mobility scooter.
A steeper and rockier bit (though hard to see how much in just the photo).

I probably won’t get to do most, if any, of those things, now. Because I hadn’t planned on getting a chronic illness and becoming disabled. And traveling when you have an energy limiting chronic illness like ME, is very difficult. And that’s before you are forced to accept that that so many places you might visit, have very limited accessibility for disabled people, even if you can undertake some travel.

Fresh bright young green leaves of the Hart's Tongue Fern.
Asplenium scolopendrium – Hart’s tongue fern

So my plans are smaller now. With careful planning, I can travel short distances, such a​s our recent holiday to North Devon, which is a couple of hours away.

A white person sitting amongst the heather and rocks on the side of a hill.
A Kevin amongst the heather.
A smiling white person on a tramper mobility scooter, along a stony path, surrounded by lots of fresh green spring growth of ferns and young tree leaves. There is a fast moving stream with trees along it's shore, to the left.
Following the path along the valley on the tramper.

I had heard about tramper mobility scooters, which are kind of like four wheel drives but for mobility scooters. They enable you to go on rougher terrain, that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to go on with a standard mobility scooter or wheelchair.

A white person taking a selfie with sea and coast behind them. It is very windy, so their hair is flying around and obscuring part of their face.
The author.

I finally got to try one at Heddon Valley/Heddon’s Mouth, part of the National Trust managed countryside and coastline. The photos are a testament to the beauty and joy given to me, by the use of a tramper mobility scooter.

Lots of white bell-like flowers with faint green lines on the petals, coming off a central thick green stem.
Allium triquetrum – three cornered garlic.

Though the photos don’t really show how rough the terrain was, trust me when I say that it would have been so much harder to do this on my normal street mobility scooter. I would have had to use up most of my energy focusing on the pitfalls (literally) along the path, to have noticed wildflowers, let alone getting as far as the sea.

A fast moving stream with trees coming into leaf over hanging it.
Along the fast moving stream.

This is part of the countryside mobility scheme. It cost £3 pounds for the day, £5 pounds for two weeks, or £15 for a year. Currently they are based in the southwest of England, and the West Midlands. I really hope this scheme soon covers the rest of the UK*.

Small yellow flowers close to the main stem of nettle-like leaves.
Lamium galeobdolon – yellow archangel
A rocky grey stone beach with some steep cliffs and waves breaking on the shoreline.
Heddon’s Mouth.
A selfie of two white people looking very happy, with the sea and coast behind them.
My partner, Kevin, and I.

I enjoyed myself so much. My heart was full to bursting, and I had tears of joy. I was so happy that I got to enjoy some of the Devon countryside and coastline.

Quite small bright blue flowers against fresh spring green leaves.
Anchusa officinalis – Alkanet.
A lime kiln takes up the main part of the photo, made of slate-like rocks. It's next to a rocky beach. There is a little sign with a mobility scooter on it, and a red line through it - mobility scooters not allowed past this point!
A lime kiln next to the beach. Don’t you just love the ‘no mobility scooter’ (i.e. not to be taken down to the beach) sign – so cute.

My plans had to change, and may be smaller now, but thanks to schemes like this, I can still experience some access to nature. I don’t say this lightly. Whilst I accept that, thanks to having ME, I’ll never be able to walk up Yr Wyddfa, I don’t accept that I should be denied all access to nature. I may not be able to travel to the Caucasus, but where possible, accessible paths should be installed or access to trampers offered, so that more of us can delight in wildflowers, and feel a sea breeze upon our faces.

* * * *

*If you know of a scheme in your area, please leave details in the comments below, thanks!

The white person on the tramper, only they aren't looking at the camera, because they are taking photos of wildflowers! You can see hints of high hills & a steep valley, behind.
It was so much fun getting up close and personal with wildflowers!

1 thought on “Tramping about: accessing nature”

  1. I love this post and how you got to experience a place you wouldn’t have been able to had accessibility been considered right from the start of a scheme. (Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a tramper up Yr Wyddfa one day?!) And also showing that joy can be found in new experiences and in the outdoors with a disability and that we’re not all at home watching life happen to other people xx


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