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Grants Open More Of National Park For Wheelchair Users

Grants Open More Of National Park For Wheelchair Users

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Wheelchair users wanting to explore the breath-taking scenery of the Yorkshire Dales now have even more information and support at their fingertips to help them plan their trip.

Two £5,000 grants from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) Sustainable Development Fund have given a big boost to Huddersfield-based Experience Community, which provides films and information about walks and other leisure activities for wheelchair users and the wider community.

The not-for-profit Community Interest Company is now in the process of producing four short films showing four different walks or routes in the National Park that offer varying degrees of challenge to wheelchair users.

Two – covering Malham Tarn and Aysgarth Falls – are now available to watch on Experience Community’s website at www.experiencecommunity.co.uk and the others are in the planning stages. The films, which explain the route length, path surfaces, gradients and any other potential obstacles, are also on YouTube.

The second SDF grant will help Experience Community to buy a third Mountain Trike that wheelchair users can use on rougher terrains.  A series of free taster sessions has been planned so people can gain experience – and confidence – to tackle more challenging routes.

The next will be held on July 3 and 4 in the YDNPA-owned Freeholders Wood at Aysgarth Falls in Wensleydale from 12 noon to 4pm followed by a taster ramble on July 5 starting at 12 noon at Bolton Castle.

Anyone wanting to book a place should email info@experiencecommunity.co.uk or phone 07958 591841.

Experience Community founder Craig Grimes, who became disabled in 1997, said:

“The SDF grants have been a big help in assisting us to access the Yorkshire Dales as a group and to provide information so that others can take advantage of the beauty of the National Park.”

“Providing information to disabled people about routes they can use in the National Park is a great way to encourage them to visit. The films mean that people can see exactly what they’re going into so they can make informed decisions about if a route is suitable for their needs or not.

“We already run a mountain trike rambling group and the third trike will increase the number of people who can come out with us – allowing Experience Community to have a much bigger impact on disabled people’s lives.

“The two-day taster sessions give people that first experience of using the Mountain Trike and, as they build their skills and confidence with the equipment, it will allow them to come out on the Exploring the Yorkshire Dales rambles. This opens up more of the National Park by enabling them to overcome rougher terrain they wouldn’t otherwise be able to tackle.

“The second SDF Grant has also enabled us to provide residential opportunities in the Yorkshire Dales for disabled people. In May a few of us stayed at the Beamsley Project near Bolton Abbey and in this month we even went camping and stayed under canvass at Catgill Campsite, which was a first for many of our disabled participants.”

Craig has been nominated in two categories of this year’s National Diversity Awards, which celebrate the excellent achievements of grass-root communities that tackle the issues in today¹s society, giving them recognition for their dedication and hard work.

The awards ceremony will be held in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral on September 18.


Rachel Briggs, the National Park Authority’s Access Development Officer, said:

“The National Park covers 680 sq miles of stunning landscape and we want people to come out and enjoy it regardless of any mobility issues they may have.

“To that end, we are working with a large number of organisations and groups to develop as many routes as possible that are suitable for people with disabilities.”

Andrea Burden, the Authority’s Sustainable Development Officer, said:

“The Sustainable Development Fund is a pot of money available either to help launch schemes or to provide much-needed extra cash.

“In this case we thought Experience Community was doing a fantastic job and the two projects would open up this beautiful National Park to more people who might otherwise not have had the confidence or the equipment to go off the beaten track.

“We have £140,000 this financial year to give away to big and small projects that contribute in some way to looking after the National Park’s natural beauty, wildlife or cultural heritage, or that promote opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy those things – while at the same time providing some local economic or community benefit.”

Details about the Fund are available on the National Park Authority website at yorkshiredales.org.uk/living-and-working/sdf

In the first instance, people are recommended to get in touch before they submit an application either via email SDF@yorkshiredales.org.uk or by phoning 01969 652337. Prospective applicants can also download an electronic application form and guidance notes via the website.

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