Making the Countryside Accessible to All

The Quingo team were interested to watch a recent episode of the BBC’s Countryfile which discussed ways of making the countryside more accessible. As advocates of accessibility, this interested us greatly, particularly as many people with limited mobility often find they can’t fully enjoy the great outdoors as much as they may like.

How to make the countryside more accessible

In the programme John Craven met Roy Taylor in the Peak District. The scenery was wonderful, and despite being just 13 miles away from Manchester city centre, the natural view was spectacular.

Roy, who has worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) for 20 years, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease two years ago. He is now dependant on his scooter for his mobility, but this hasn’t stopped him from engaging in his passion for the countryside.

Roy, from Yorkshire, has set himself the challenge of travelling over 200 miles with the aim of raising funds and awareness to improve accessibility in the countryside. In the programme, John discovers his inspirational story and his aim to make the natural world accessible to all.


Enjoying nature

Roy explained to John that his own experiences as a nature lover has highlighted the issue of accessibility for people with mobility problems.  Roy said: “Like many other people I love being outdoors and watching wildlife. It makes me feel alive.

“Yet… many paths suitable for disabled people like myself, are inaccessible due to stiles, kissing gates and other obstacles. Many paths I could access when walking are now out of bounds when in a wheelchair. It needn’t be like this.”

Promoting accessibility and mobility

Whilst Roy’s unable to control what happens in the wider countryside side, working for the RSPB he’s in a position to influence what happens on the organisation’s nature reserves. Over the coming months, he will be carrying out an audit of the accessibility of all RSPB reserves in northern England and will write up a list of actions for change – from installing wheelchair friendly access points to better views from hides.

To raise the funds necessary, Roy will be taking a coast to coast wheelchair challenge this month, from Southport to Hornsea. All of the money raised will be spent directly on making the changes identified. These changes may include, for instance, accessible picnic sites, better paths and railings, or more access to vantage points.

Roy added: “I might not be able to change anything out in the wider countryside, but I can ensure that the 20 superb RSPB nature reserves we have in northern England are exemplars of accessibility for people with disabilities, mobility problems and also for parents with prams.”

Getting involved

Roy is also inviting other people to get involved with the challenge, saying: “I’d love for people to join me – perhaps for a day or two, or even just for a few hours or miles. It will be tough but it’ll be a lot of fun.”

If you’d like to help Roy reach his goal, you can make a donation to his website, or to find out how to take part in the challenge, you can contact him at [email protected]

About Quingo

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