Hikes are a popular outdoor activity across the world, regardless of someone’s abilities. Choosing to find a lengthy path that gets you into nature doesn’t have to be reserved for national parks or popular tourist destinations. The below options are 5 of the best accessible hiking trails in the UK, giving wheelchair users spaces to explore the countryside, stroll by the river, and spend extended time outside to focus on nature and the natural landscape. The hiking trails included here range from strolling along the canal to visiting a nature park, a well-known forest, an island, and even a lighthouse.
1. Ripon Canal Walk
Strolling along the canal is a fun and relaxing activity for tourists and locals alike, giving everyone a space to enjoy the waterway and spend time outdoors. The Ripon Canal Walk is a one mile (1.6 km) gentle stroll, with paths wide enough to provide wheelchair accessibility throughout. The path begins just outside of the city center at the canal basin and winds up to pass a lock, as well as the former lock keeper’s house. The further you move outside of the city, the more the countryside opens up, giving you a more natural landscape in addition to the perfect vantage point to watch boats in the canal. Along the path are wheelchair accessible fishing platforms, which take this path beyond a stroll and includes outdoor hobbies like fishing and birdwatching.
2. Whisby Nature Park
For a nature destination that offers multiple wheelchair accessible hiking trails, in addition to space for outdoor hobbies and a coffee shop to rest at, consider visiting Whisby Nature Park. The Wheel Friendly Walk is a 1.87 km walk in a loop around the lakes. All of the paths at the park are wheelchair friendly, great for both manual and electric wheelchairs. On the property, you can rent an electric scooter if you choose, as the path can be a lot for manual wheelchair users that are new to hiking. Beyond hiking, this destination is perfect for birdwatching, as there are several bird hides that give you close access to the wildlife in its natural habitat. Along with the walking paths, there is a visitor’s center, cafe, and shop, and all are wheelchair accessible.
3. Sherwood Forest
The iconic Sherwood Forest is a destination for many visitors, as it has a place in literature and history. This location is also home to several hiking trails that range from ¾ mile to 4 miles (1.2 km to 6.4 km), all centred around a visitors center. The center itself is wheelchair accessible and offers wheelchairs to rent for free, along with electric scooters that can be rented by the hour. From the center, you can begin hiking by following the markers to carry you through the forest.
The shortest trail is Giants Trail, which tours through Europe’s ancient oaks. The trail visits a few large trees and gives you a short path that takes around 30 minutes to stroll through. The main attraction trail is the Major Oak Trail, which covers 1.5 miles and takes you to Major Oak, Robin Hood’s iconic hideout as well as winding through the forest to bring you back to the visitor’s center. Greenwood Trail is perfect for seeing the seasonal changes in the forest and is best seen in the spring or autumn to watch the landscape changing before your eyes. The last trail, Wildwood Trail, is the longest at 4 miles and is an adventurous trail that highlights the preservation happening on the forest’s grounds.
4. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Venturing out of the city for a nature hike is a great way to see more of the UK, and traveling to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, along the coast, gives you the perfect destination for enjoying the range of scenery the UK provides. Lindisfarne is a tidal island and the hiking trail covers 2 miles (3.36 km), starting at the parking lot that is close to the bathrooms. The path continues through a village and down to a castle. This path is ideal for manual wheelchair users, as it is mainly flat. The path is partially roads and partially tarmac tracks. Along the path, there are benches for taking breaks, snapping photos, and enjoying the coastal breeze. There is also a heritage center, which is wheelchair accessible if you’d like to hike part of the path and explore the property.
5: Durlston Country Park and Anvil Lighthouse
Lastly, if you’re looking for a shorter wheelchair friendly walk along the coast with a lighthouse to visit, try the Durlston Country Park and Anvil Lighthouse. This walk is wheelchair accessible, starting at the parking lot and ending at the lighthouse. It is worth noting that the walk back includes a steep hill to climb from the lighthouse back to the park, so it may be better to bring a friend or use an electric wheelchair or scooter if possible. There are all-terrain wheelchairs available at the visitor’s center, so you can visit with your personal wheelchair and make a swap if you’d like to explore the whole path. For even more natural hiking fun, explore the National Nature Reserve to learn about sea cliffs, woodlands, and hay meadows.
There are many wheelchair accessible hiking trails in the UK that focus on enjoying the natural landscape and finding spaces to spend quiet time in nature. Whether you’d like to roll along the canal, a lake, or the coast to visit a forest, lighthouse, or isolated island, many sights are wheelchair accessible. Many of these hiking trails are popular enough to have visitor’s centres offering electric scooters or all-terrain wheelchairs, but still provide a tranquil stroll to connect with nature.
About the Author:
Cory Lee is a wheelchair user, travel addict, and accessible travel writer. On his blog, Curb Free with Cory Lee, he hopes to inspire others to roll out of their comfort zones and see all the beauty our world has to offer.