The outdoors becomes more accessible

Parke now open to all thanks to launch of ‘off road’ mobility scooter hire scheme!

An all-terrain mobility scooter that can go ‘off road’ is opening up the National Trust’s Parke estate, near Bovey Tracey, to people who have difficulty walking.

The ‘Tramper’ scooter has been provided by the Devon based charity Living Options Devon as part of a scheme to open up the countryside to people with limited mobility. Called Countryside Mobility South West, www.countrysidemobility.org,  the scheme has introduced Trampers to around 30 sites across the region

The scheme is proving extremely popular with people of all ages who want to get out and enjoy the countryside. For Mrs Love from Nailsea, the Tramper has been an enormous help.

Tramper use at Parke

She said: “ I visited Parke today with my family and we had a great visit.  I was able to go to so many more places than I could have without the Tramper”

The rangers have been working hard over the past few years to make the estate and surrounding paths at Parke as accessible to as many people as possible but due to the wild nature of the site this has been challenging. The Tramper now based here changes all that and means people who have difficulty walking can explore much more of the estate when they visit.

The Trampers can go up and down slopes, over bumps and tree roots, through shallow puddles, mud and soft ground and are for use by anyone aged 14 or over who has a permanent or temporary condition that affects their ability to walk. With a top speed of four miles an hour they can keep pace with the briskest walking companion.

James Maben from Countryside Mobility explained:  “Trampers are for everyone who wants to enjoy the countryside but can’t manage much walking. You do not have to be registered as a disabled person, or have a Blue Badge. Many people have found that Trampers have given them back their freedom, enabling them to enjoy time outdoors alone, with their partner or on a family outing”.

To use the Trampers, people simply choose a site and arrange their first visit.  On arrival, they join as members of Countryside Mobility which costs £10.00 per year or £2.50 for 4 weeks. Training is provided on how to use a Tramper lasting approximately 10 minutes.  They are then given a membership card, which enables them to use a Tramper at any partner site without the need for further training.  There is a small hire charge to be paid for each visit.

The scheme has been supported with a grant from Natural England as part of its Access to Nature programme, funded from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme and is being developed through a partnership between organisations that manage countryside sites across the region.

 

 

 

Air Cadets are a step closer to award at Lydford Gorge….!

On Saturday 18th May a small group of Air Cadets from 2443 (Okehampton) Squadron helped Rangers to build steps on the path to the White Lady Waterfall. The cadets aged from 14 – 17 (taking a break from their usual activities of flying, shooting and sports!), are working towards their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. Part of which requires the completion of community service.  Their time was spent carrying tools and materials to the site, then replacing old redundant steps with smart new ones which are easier to use.  The  ‘short and steep’ path’ allows direct access for anything up to 60,000 visitors per year! So the 220 ‘odd’ steps require regular maintenance. The cadets worked hard and built some of excellent steps for visitors to explore   the wild flowers and beauty of that part of the Gorge.

Steve saves the day

 On Friday at Lydford there was a small rockfall at Lydford Gorge. The river path was shut for a while while Steve the ranger literally swung into action abseiled down to the fall cleared away some loose soil and stone and checked the site was solid and safe.  The path was then reopened a great relief the day before a busy, sunny bank holiday weekend.

Lydford is a really wonderful natural site it is steep and rocky, trees cling onto the slopes, water is running and dripping and seeping everywhere. The upshot is the site is quite active trees fall over, soil slips and rocks fall. We have a very thorough system for making the place as safe as possible tens of thousands of pounds are spent every year with expert geologists and specialist rock face teams checking the rock faces and putting in netting in places where falling rocks could be dangerous. We have a weekly safety inspection to check at the paths, handrails, life buoys etc when the gorge is open.

Luckily most of the activity happens in the winter when we get the most wind and rain however occasionally something happens in the open season this is when speedy action by the ranger team can deal with the incident make sure everything is safe and let our visitors come back into the gorge to make sure everybody has an enjoyable visit and nobody is disappointed.

 

Young Birdwatchers

 

Micro ornithologists

 

A group of budding young ornithologists came on a guided walk around Plymbridge Woods yesterday. We focused on bird survey techniques and species identification, and finished with a look at our spectacular pair of resident peregrine falcons. We had fantastic views of both peregrines, who are looking particularly nesty. We saw some other great birds including a great spotted woodpecker, mandarin ducks and dippers. The kids’ bird i.d. skills were very good and I’m sure there were a few future Audubons and Humbles among them. Well done folks. If you’re children are interested in joining the young birdwatchers, we will be doing more activities on the 8th and 28th of August and the 29th of September. Please call the office for more details (01752 341 377).

Is this what they mean by “Multi-use Trail”?

Well, not really, but this is what a trail suitable for families, wheelchairs,dog walkers, cyclists, and pushchairs has to look like when its being built.

Don’t worry though, once the construction crew have left and nature takes over, the new recycled road planing surface will weather in and it will look just like an inviting meander through the woodland.

The trail should be completed soon after Easter, but in the meantime you can still have a great visit to National Trust Parke, seeing the apple orchard, walled garden, historic parkland, bluebell woodland, riverside walk, Dartmoor Pony Centre, ending with a tasy snack of light lunch at Home Farm Cafe.

New cycle trail at Bovey Tracey

The long awaited cycle trail through National Trust ‘s Parke estate on the edge of Bovey Tracey is moving forwards.  Just before Christmas work started on the route through Mill Marsh Park from the centre of Bovey towards the Moretonhampstead road.  The crossing of the busy highway was achieved by lowering the path that runs along the River Bovey beneath the road.

There have been alterations to the unofficial layby that had been created over the years, thus providing a new surfaced parking area with a footpath leading to the pedestrian gate into Parke for walkers and cyclists.

Work will be starting in 4 weeks on the old railway track that runs up towards the Wilford Bridge end of Parke, through the woodland to give a good surface for a multi use path, being ideal for wheelchairs, pushchairs walkers and cyclists.  There will be a few areas that will be fenced to improve safety and a very limited number of small trees that have grown up into the trackbed will be removed.  Also specific lengths of the track will be drained carefully to avoid the present build-up of mud and leaves.

Once completed this track will not only become another link in the longer Moretonhampstead to Teignmouth path, but also be another piece in the jigsaw of improved access routes for the visitor around Parke.