My work for 20 years with British Rail Engineering was mostly very physical being involved with the logistics of getting raw material to the work floor when needed. My outside activities were often the same, I was a member of a rambling club and a keen golfer, at the time we had a holiday caravan in Skegness I would spend most of the day either on the golf links or by the lake fishing and so when my mobility became more and more restricted during my fifties it became a great disappointment to me. Then three years ago I took possession of a mobility scooter and once again I got my freedom back to get out and about and enjoy the wonders of open spaces and our British countryside.
Even with the new found freedom my new MS gave me I soon found that there are obsticles that can restrict your movement. We have always enjoyed the pleasure of our coastal strip but sand on the walkways becomes a real problem for the disabled users of wheelchairs or scooters, those who know me are already aware of my efforts to clear the sand from the paths and of the formation of the action group Coastal Access for All. But at the same time I'm also keen to enjoy more of our countyside away from the coast as well.
Just a few miles south of Skegness along the coast is Gibralter Point Nature Reserve, controlled by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve is a haven for wildlife and caters extremely well for the disabled user, with wide flat paths and open access to all areas and you can even hire a scooter from the excellent visitor centre if needed. This is an excellent starting point for any would be disabled rambler. Alas not all routes are so accessable to the disabled, stiles, kissing gates and other objects often bar the way.
My involvement with Coastal Access for All brought me into contact with Joe Blissett (Coast and Grazing Marshes Project Officer, Lincolnshire Wildlife trust) who intern introduced me to the work of the new Lincolnshire Coastal Country park which covers an area of the coast from Chapel St Leonards to Sandilands near Mablethorpe and in particular to a project they have started in an area of the country park called Six Marshes which is situated just along the coast near Chapel Point. Here they have laid a track suitable for disabled scooters and wheelchairs that encircles an area of open water, damp grassland and reads which will provide a natural habitat for birdlife, the area also includes disabled parking, toilets and picnic area making it an idea setting by the coast for folks like myself. Through Joe I have also met Matthew Davey (Environment and Community Projects Officer Lincolnshire County Council) who was able to forward on information sheets on many more areas that are suitable for the disabled and I’m presently in the process of visiting them and seeing how they meet up to my needs. These Areas include Whisby Nature Park, Chambers Farm Wood, Deeping Lakes, South ThoresbyWarren and Bourne Wood. So Far I have only been able to visit Whisby Nature Park and I was very impressed with its ease of access to walkways and hides and its excellent visitor centre and shop, Whisby will become a place I shall want to visit many times.
Eventually I would like to establish a group for disabled ramblers in Lincolnshire who like myself enjoy the out doors but find there disability restricts them. I am already a member of a national group of Disabled Ramblers and feel that there is much potential in setting up a small local group just for the Lincolnshire area. If there are any readers of this blog who feel that they fall into this category and would be interested in joining me then please contact me through this blog.
I would like to thank Joe Blissett and Mathew Davey for there help and support and to Kevin Wilson and Dave Miller at Gibralter Point for the work they do to help access to the reserve for the disabled.