Inclusive Walking with Experience Community – The Land Trust

Jane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in July 2003. She had moved back home to Pontefract in 2005 after living in America for 14 years; the fatigue during the hot summers in the US would leave her with no energy. Jane had been a high school teacher there and enjoyed hiking and canoeing, so after her MS diagnosis she wanted to find something to keep herself active and to meet new people.

There are two places within 10 minutes’ drive of where Jane lives that have become her favourite places to visit, particularly during 2020 when people were encouraged to stay local. The two sites are Frickley Country Park (Pontefract) and Brodsworth Community Woodland (Doncaster). Both are former colliery brownfield sites, with both being managed by The Land Trust. Jane was introduced to these sites by a friend and she visits them regularly with her assistance dog, Lacey. 

Jane and Lacey

She uses a Mountain Trike (all-terrain wheelchair) with electric assist- an eTrike- to get around. She told us that, “I love these sites because of the closeness to home, and the range of routes available. I can easily do between 4 and 6 miles at both in my eTrike. I was visiting both these sites before I got electric assist added to my Trike, but it just means I can go further since I got the eTrike.”

While at Frickley, there is an out-and-back route along a level tarmac path through woodland, with bird feeders along the way to aid keen bird spotters. Both sites do have some hills. According to Jane, “at Frickley, you can stay at the bottom of the site where it’s fairly level and you can do approximately 3 miles on a circular route if you are using manual equipment. At Brodsworth, there are more hills and accessible outer and inner loops; if you do both loops then you can cover up to 6 miles.”

Jane at Frickley Country Park.

There is a mixture of footpath surfaces at both sites. At Frickley, the surfaces feature tarmac and crushed stone, which Jane said are “well compacted and suitable for mobility scooters with small wheels and the paths are wide enough. You’d need a push to get to the top in a manual wheelchair but it’s manageable in motorised scooters and other electric equipment.” There are woodland and grassland habitats at both sites, with Brodsworth having more woodland, and each has excellent viewpoints across the local area. You can witness a variety of wildlife, with a range of birds and butterflies, particularly in summer; Jane has also seen deer at Brodsworth. For art buffs, there are various sculptures throughout the woodland at Brodsworth and artwork at Frickley. 

Jane visits both sites with friends as she needs assistance with the kissing gates at the entrances at Frickley, which require a RADAR key. The entrances at Brodsworth are more open and tend to be of an ‘A’ frame shape which she can pass through in her Trike. Car parking is available at both sites, though Jane notes that there are currently no designated disabled parking bays. Frickley can get quite full, so she tends to try and get there early. The car park at Brodsworth is slightly larger. There are no café or toilet facilities at either site, but Markham Grange garden centre near Brodsworth has toilets. It’s also a good place to stop if you’ve built up an appetite, as you’ll find a café there. If you prefer a picnic, there are picnic facilities available at Brodsworth. There are several dog bins along the pathways throughout the sites.

Frickley Country Park

Site info

For more information on the Land Trust and for each site, go to www.thelandtrust.org.uk/visit-land-trust-spaces and choose North East & Yorkshire.

Please visit our website at www.experiencecommunity.co.uk for other walk ideas. If you have a disability and would like to share your favourite walk with us, please do get in touch through our social media networks or email us at info@experiencecommunity.co.uk

Cromwell Bottom Nature Reserve – Brighouse

Once a quarry, landfill site and ash tip for the old Elland power station, Cromwell Bottom Local Nature Reserve is now home to a mix of woodland, wetland and grassland and is rich in plants and wildlife.

Sandwiched between the West Yorkshire towns of Brighouse and Elland, Cromwell Bottom offers a great place to explore with birds, squirrels, insects and wild flowers all calling it their home.

The reserve is accessible from either the small gravel car park off Elland Road or directly from the canal which runs alongside several of Brighouse town centre’s car parks (a 25-minute walk).

From the car park, there are several routes you can take to enter the reserve but the main entrance is across the bridge towards the portakabin café.

The view from the canal bridge just before the entrance to the nature reserve

Once across the bridge, there is a map of the area that shows you the available routes as well as areas that are accessible for prams and wheelchairs.

This map gives you clear guidance on where it is safe and accessible to walk

We followed a long loop around the edge of the river, up to the weir and around to the pond dipping platform, before looping back round to the bird watching area and following the path round to the lagoon. From there, we re-joined the canal to meander our way back to the car park.

This route was just short of 3km and lasted for around 40 minutes. Stops at the pond, bird watching area and lagoon added on a further 50 minutes.

This is the view from the footbridge looking towards the weir

Note: This walk will also make a great segue into the Brighouse to Halifax canal walk, which could be linked at the end.

Norfolk Heritage Park, Sheffield

Sheffield has many nicknames, but our favourite is probably ‘The Outdoor City’ due to the myriad of outdoor activities on its doorstep. This makes it the ideal city to be a dog owner. At Dog Friendly Sheffield, we’ve been discovering little pockets of the city to find Sheffield walks to enjoy with your four-legged friend.

You’ll soon discover that you don’t have to go very far to find a great walk in Sheffield. This walk in fact starts from the train station!

In under one hour, this route takes in stunning views of the city alongside a large open heritage park that your dog can run around in. It even finishes up at a dog friendly café. So, if you’re visiting the city for the day, it’s the perfect way to give your dog some exercise before enjoying one of the brilliant dog friendly pubs in Sheffield.

Try out the easy-to-follow walking route here: Clay Wood and Norfolk Heritage Park from Sheffield Train Station.

The Cleveland Way: Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole

This is a great walk for all ages, with beautiful views and plenty to do along the way.

Tidepermitting: Walk along the beach (heading south) from Robin Hood’s Bay to Boggle Hole. Along the way, search for fossils, shells and rock pools- this is a great beach to explore and have fun. Boggle Hole is the home to YHA Boggle Hole, once an old mill. This is tucked away on the shoreline of an old smugglers’ cove which you can reach by crossing a bridge. They have a lovely café which serves great refreshments, as well as running Seashore Safaris and much more. The tide comes in very quickly here, so you can return to Robin Hood’s Bay on the Cleveland Way on top of the cliffs. Climb up the path between the hostel and the beach (on your left as you look out to sea) and follow it all the way.

This is an accessible route for little legs and brings you out by the Old Coastguard Station in Robin Hood’s Bay. There are spectacular views here. For very little legs, I suggest a carrier, as there are steps to negotiate at both ends. You can do the walk in either direction, depending on the tide.

For more walks and days outdoors around Scarborough and Whitby for families, have a look at the Scarborough Mumbler website!

Boost your wellbeing with a ‘noticing walk’

How many times have you set off on your regular walk and realised, when you got home, that you barely remembered anything about it? Maybe autopilot took over and got you safely there and back while you were completely lost in thought. There’s actually nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s a very useful ability that helps us get all sorts of mundane jobs done. Walking can give us time to decompress and process our experiences – and that’s a very useful thing.

However, you might want to exercise more choice over the time you spend revisiting the past or planning the future. Perhaps you’d like to spend more time in the present, noticing all the things here right now. By introducing a few simple techniques to connect with nature, you can transform your sense of wellbeing. There’s no better time than spring to practice this, as nature is bursting into life with new changes every day.

You’ll find hundreds of ways to connect with nature, many of which are detailed in my Other Ways to Walk cards. Today, I decided to follow my own advice and make use of one card in particular. This one invites us to ‘Count all the things that are opening’ while out on a daily stroll. Activities like this help us to focus on pulling our attention from our internal monologue back into the present world. Better still, they help us notice and appreciate things that are beautiful or have meaning. Both of these exercises are proven ways to improve wellbeing.

I set off along a path between an arable field and a playing field. I found myself wondering if it was too early in the year to find many things that were opening. Then, my attention fell on a new pink bud starting to open on an oak sapling with acid yellow lichen. It seemed to be a brave pioneer, with all the other buds staying tightly closed in their tough outer scales.

Brightened by this discovery, I looked up to see a rook opening its wings to take flight across the field. This was my second ‘opening’ in the space of a few minutes.

I continued walking past a row of terraces, skirting a small copse and returning along muddy paths beside fields. Along the way, I noticed another nine things that were opening, some admittedly more poetic than others:

  • the clouds opened to reveal the sun, which drenched me in a hazy warm glow of light
  • my heart opened with gratitude at the feeling of warm sunlight on my cheeks
  • a small opening at the bottom of a crumbling dry stone wall had a track running through it, probably frequented by badgers after sunset
  • dog walkers were opening and closing their mouths as they talked
  • someone had left a window open on the top floor of one of the terraces, letting in the spring air as it has done since the early 19th century when it was built for the cottage weaving industry
  • now that the last of the snow had melted, the snowdrops were finally open on the verge opposite the cottages, showing their little green moustaches

Celandines were opening. These are a good early source of pollen for insects and provide a bright, shiny yellow colour to gladden the heart.

I found one single daffodil amongst all the closed flowers. They will be a riot of yellow in a few days’ time.

Best of all, I felt a sense of opening in my mind and more space to breathe as I returned home, grateful for a few moments of spring at the end of February.

There are so many different types of landscape in Yorkshire. It would be impossible to list them all here, but whether you are walking in formal parks, coastal paths, over moorlands or through ancient forests, it will do you good to take the time to soak it all in with every one of your senses. Research shows that connecting with nature has measurable benefits for wellbeing, boosting the immune system, reducing stress and improving sleep. So don’t let it pass you by unnoticed.