I have just helped guide, 20 disabled ramblers around the old Loop Road near Okehampton. It’s definitely been a very worthwhile and inspirational day for me and I congratulate everyone involved.
I had been approached by the Devon representative, Peter Flick of the Disabled Ramblers almost a year in advance as the plans came together for five rambles on Dartmoor as part of a total of 7 rambles in Devon, taking place in September. Other Rangers have been involved in suggesting routes in their areas and then guiding on their chosen routes .
This national organisation exists to help mobility challenged people get back out into the countryside with most using the Tramper made by Beamish ltd in either the 4 wheel or relatively new, 3 wheel versions. They also offer the opportunity to anyone not owning their own scooter, to hire one to be able to experience for the first time, the all terrain ability of these machines!
As the crowd began to assemble at the allotted time, it was soon clear that there was some in the group that had been on theses rambles before, and some with limited experience and a little daunted by what lay ahead. However, the ramble organiser , John Cuthbertson, soon had minds put to rest and after a short introduction, the ramble began.
A steady pace allowed those of us walking alongside to keep up and to engage in conversation about the area with plenty of questions coming my way and for me a chance to find out more about them and the reasons for their various disabilities.
Its incredibly humbling to listen about life changing illnesses that completely alter very active lives and how the group has helped them to re-engage with outdoor activities. Terry, for example, from North Wales, had been a British Mountain guide travelling to many parts of the world until a stroke in his early sixties changed everything. The group, plus his dogged determination to continue conquering anything that came his way, has taken him back to some of the areas he once new so well and he loves to be outdoors setting himself some amazing challenges.
Coffee stops and a lunch stop half way round, gave ample opportunity for the group to gel further and a small trailer, towed behind one of the Trampers, turned out to be hauling a portable accessible toilet, quickly deployed and welcomed by many!
All in all it was a good day out and I for one look forward to them returning in future years.