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.
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.”
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.
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 [email protected].