ViewRanger meets Disabled Ramblers chairman John Cuthberson to find out how he’s using our app to make the UK’s great outdoors more accessible for people with mobility issues.
Hi John, tell us about the work the Disabled Ramblers does…
"The Disabled Ramblers helps people with mobility issues get back into the countryside using electric powered mobility scooters. We find and risk-assess routes, grading them according to difficulty. We run about 30 rambles a year spread across England & Wales. Each ramble might have 20 to 30 disabled people plus able-bodied helpers, usually friends & family."
And how did you get involved with the organisation?
"My wife used to love going out into the countryside until she began having mobility difficulties. We heard about the Disabled Ramblers on another website and decided to give them a try. Within a few weeks she had bought a Tramper and it really changed our lives. Once again, after many, many years, she was able to get on top of the Malvern Hills and enjoy the glorious views."
How does ViewRanger help you get more people outdoors?
"Before I joined the Disabled Ramblers over 400 rambles had been run, but no-one had kept a record of where they went. I’m busy trying to re-create these routes as well as finding new ones – and I don’t want them lost again! By publishing the routes on ViewRanger I hope many other people will benefit from our work, as well as our members."
Disabled Ramblers now have routes spread all over the UK – which are the most popular?
"Our members love the wild countryside and, for many, the challenge of getting there. All the National Parks are very popular, in particular Snowdonia which has given us some real challenges. Here are two great routes in Snowdonia:
Drum from Abergwyngregyn. Click here for ViewRanger route.
Watkin Path to Gladstone Rock. Click here for ViewRanger route.
How much do Disabled Ramblers routes vary in difficulty? Are they suitable for everyone?
"We categorise our routes from 1 to 3. Cat 1 routes are suitable for manual wheelchairs and pavement scooters, if the distance isn’t too long. Cat 2 rambles are suitable for most pavement mobility scooters and off-road powerchairs. Cat 3 are only suitable for heavy duty off-road scooters like the Tramper and the TGA Supersport. Cat 3 rambles are the most popular rambles – many of our members do like adventure and challenge!"
Are you happy with the awareness of disabled access routes, or could it be better?
"While access has improved since we began in 1990, there is still much more to be done. It’s good that many stiles have come down but they’re often replaced by small kissing gates which we can’t get through. The Disabled Ramblers work with national bodies trying to get the message across about improving access and give a lot of presentations to councils, footpath wardens and rangers who are usually amazed at the capability of the Tramper and similar scooters. It’s only when they sit on one and try it out that they realise just where it can go."
If you had to pick a favourite from your Disabled Ramblers routes, which would it be?
"Our first ramble, in 1990, was on The Ridgeway in Oxfordshire and we aim to do a section of it each year. One of the most magical places on it is Wayland’s Smithy near White Horse Hill. This is the remains of a Long Barrow but has many myths attached to it as well. It can be reached from two directions:
Option 1: From Whitehorse Hill car park it’s a 3-mile, Cat 1 ramble suitable for manual wheelchairs. Click here for ViewRanger route.
Option 2: From Ashdown House it’s a 5.5 mile, Cat 3 ramble. This is due to the deep ruts along the trail and the extra distance. Click here for ViewRanger route.
To view all Disabled Ramblers routes in ViewRanger click here.