Accessibility in the Fells

During the past 5 years I have become involved in the promotion of accessibility in the outdoors and fells of England through Debbie and Andy North, genuine champions of a ‘can do’ attitude.

Here is the story…to date.

About Debbie and Andy.

Debs is an inspiration to anyone for for whom life has thrown them a curved ball. I met her and Andy her husband in Malham a number of years ago and was immediately impressed by her positivity and enthusiasm.

She was diagnosed with a degenerative spine but is absolutely determined to make the best of it, not just for herself but also for other wheelchair users who are often short changed when they visit the fells.  Her first project was to raise funds for the purchase of an all terrain wheel chair which is now housed housed at the National Trust offices at Malham and most importantly available for hire. Having watched Debs struggle along to the foot of Gordale Scar it brought it home to me how essential a good wheelchair is to help access even the better paths in our upland areas.

A few years ago I was climbing Ben Ledi in the Trossachs  when I witnessed 3 strapping lads pulling a wheelchair up the track on ropes with an excited young girl sat in it, taking the bumps and bruises but happy to be out and about.  Amazing. Its people like her and Debbie who make me appreciate how fortunate we are to enjoy the fells without any thoughts of restrictions and difficulties. 

Accessibility in the Outdoors

 

Coast to Coast

Find out about Debbies remarkable wheelchair crossing of England on the Coast to Coast walk.

 

Access TOG

Debbie has teemed up with Julia Bradbury on Access the Outdoor Guide, find out what they have been up to. 

 

Approaching Skiddaw House

Debbie climbed both Blencathra and Skiddaw in a lovely few days …with some friends.

 

Gordale Scar

Debbie talks about 2 visits to Gordale Scar, frustrating at the time but put down a marker for the future.

 

High Cup Nick

An amusing and enjoyable day at High Cup Nick, a geographical masterpiece in the Cumbrian Pennines

 

Early Days

Debbie talks about her decision to quit as a head teacher to pursue her outdoors dream.

 

 

Comments Leave your comment

  1. Utterly inspirational – and gives me great hope.

    My head is screwed on to my body with much titanium; and walking is becoming increasingly difficult (a slow lap around Buttermere is my current limit…). To know that you can still get to such beautiful places is wonderful… – and I hope you keep on getting to see them for many, many years to come…. Thank you, Debbie!

  2. claire unwin says:

    Does anyone know if there is wheelchair access from ribblesdale station to the viaduct (via the pub!)?

  3. Debbie North says:

    Hi Michael,
    Doing the C2C has been a fabulous experience.
    I am more than happy to share my experience with you.
    You are taking on a massive challenge to walk with crutches as the ground can be very uneven and you could easily be knocked off balance.
    Jonathan helped me by planning a route through the Lakes that took in the bridleways.
    We reached some good height and the views were breathtaking.
    I will email my contacts and perhaps we can chat.
    All the best, debs

  4. Michael says:

    Hello Debbie,
    Oh how fabulous to read about your past and present sojourns. I am particularly interested in how you got on with your Coast to Coast. I have a mobility disability but can get about well with two sticks and the like. I am extremely melt fit and have set myself a challenge for next year 2016. The coast to Coast is top of my list and I intend to do it using adapted crutches. How was the terrain on the route you chose? And did you use hostels or B&B’s? Any advice you feel able yo offer would be greatly appreciated.
    Best regards and well done you.
    Michael

  5. Michael says:

    Hello Debbie,
    Oh how fabulous to read about your past and present sojourns. I am particularly interested in how you got on with your Coast to Coast. I have a mobility disability but can get about well with two sticks and the like. I am extremely melt fit and have set myself a challenge for next year 2016. The coast to Coast is top of my list and I intend to do it using adapted crutches. How was the terrain on the route you chose? And did you use hostels or B&B’s? Any advice you feel able yo offer would be greatly appreciated.
    Best regards and well done you.
    Michael

  6. roy clements says:

    Hi Debbie, I am from Liverpool and now live in fort Langley British Columbia, Canada. I am deeply impressed by your quest and wish to contribute to your cause, please forward me the details. Thank you.
    I too will be doing the C2C beginning in June to raise funds for the local hospice where the Love of my Life passed away however I do not wish to solicit from you or your supporters on the contrary I would publicise your journey. When I went back to Liverpool in the eighties I would push my mum round in the wheelchair and what a challenge that was
    Good luck Debbie to you and your husband.
    YNWA
    Roy

  7. Debbie north says:

    Thank you to all who have left such lovely comments. If you wish to be involved in helping to raise funds please contact me and I will happily send you a sponsor form! Thanks xx

  8. Joan Almond says:

    Inspiring story – we have accessible cottages which our customers use to enjoy the Lake District. One of our visitors brought his tramper and had a great week out and about. We would love to meet you, come and visit us here…we’re just up the road from the Calvert Trust (Bassenthwaite) who we see are kindly donating the use of equipment for your planned Coast to Coast trip…good luck.

  9. Sue brierly says:

    Hi- lovely site, fantastic that you are promoting access for all. We live just outside the Dales and Lake district on the edge of the forest of Bowland in an area of outstanding natural beauty. We own a holiday let next door to us, which is designed to be accessible, come and stay ! suebrierly@hotmail.com

  10. fiona haigh says:

    Hello, I would be interested in any information about access for a wheelchair user to the Dales. I have a very good friend who is a wheelchair user and would love for them to be able to join me on walks. They previously were a lover of camping and the countryside themselves, before a motorcycle accident. I would love to help them rediscover that passion with share it with them anew.

  11. Tom Doughty says:

    Request contact info for Debs. I am tetra, looking for info on where to stay band b and push/hand cycle/clip on electric trike on the pennine way, weekend or overnight
    Stay in mallam in the scoring. Ta. Tom

  12. Simon Overton says:

    Hi there- live in the Dales and teach at Aysgarth School. I’m a wheelchair user. Interested in being involved in anything to improve disabled access if Debs would like to get in touch. Sounds like she is a teacher also.

  13. katie says:

    Hi, my daughter is 20yrs old and is an electric wheelchair user. before kids I loved the hills and walking but due to access problems and finding paths in west yorkshire we have struggled to show our kids the places I was brought up to appreciate and enjoy.
    your web page is fabulous. thanks for sharing your experiences.
    hoping to take my kids as a result to gordale scar on Sunday with of course our 20yr old!
    take care and enjoy the hills.
    katie

  14. Brian Irving says:

    Hello all, Gordale is one of my favourite places in the Dales, I only live an hour away and often go and spend a few days midweek in my camper van, it’s just such an idyllic location. I’m disabled but still mobile, just.. so I take my time and walk the entire area, will not attempt the waterfall again I think!
    We’ve been taking our Daughter there since she was a tiny child, 25 years later it’s even more of a joy to go with her and her own children, I’ll never forget one occasion a few years ago when she was so happy to arrive she leapt from the van, threw hereself on the ground and began to munch on the grass, she loves that place above any other!
    It’s also a fabulous place to base yourself for jaunts out to many of the other beautiful places in the area, in all directions lie amazing beauty, I just love it.

Leave a Reply