Disability and adventure!

  • Contributor information: CNP

13 November 2018

Valerie Rawlings and Bob McLellan from Disabled Ramblers takes us through their passion for overcoming the obstacles in the way of a National Park adventure!

Our group, Disabled Ramblers, offer disabled people the opportunity to get out on their mobility scooters and relish the freedom and wonderful uplifting feeling that you get when out in the beautiful scenery.

We love organising and leading rambles all over the country including in many of the National Parks. Last year we held four walks in the South Downs National Park and four in the New Forest National Park. Feedback from our members say it becomes a vital part of their lifestyle to be able to join us on as many of our rambles as possible.

We use, in the main, quite tough all-terrain mobility scooters. Before each ramble, the route is thoroughly investigated and any problems that can be dealt with can then be ironed out in time if it is possible. 

Disabled Ramblers in the South Downs

Just to give you a taste of our adventures. This picture was of us on the South Downs in April, we went from the Jack & Jill Windmills and travelled across the downs to the Chattri Memorial for Ghurka soldiers who perished in World War One. About 10 days before this we reccied the route in pouring rain through deep puddles of thick mud, resplendent in our waterproofs and quite sure that the ramble would be a dismal failure, but in that short time it had all dried out and was a different place entirely, now it was hard, bumpy and very hot!  


Enjoying the views of the South Downs via mobility scooter. Photo credit: Disabled Ramblers.

The Disabled Ramblers campaign for better access all over the country. Here in the South Downs we have a very good relationship with the National Park rangers plus good contacts in the National Park Authority who try their very best to help in any way they are able to make routes more accessible for us on our mobility scooters. 

Recently, we were thrilled to be involved with the opening of a new route in the South Downs near Ditchling Beacon where work to replace a gate, the reinstatement of a very rutted and inaccessible path and new signage now makes it possible for us to do a 6 mile circular ramble in this area. This was made possible by both the National Park Authority and sponsorship by Gatwick Airport Community fund.

As well as the South Downs and New Forest this year, Disabled Ramblers have held rambles on Exmoor, Dartmoor, North York Moors, the Peak District, the Chilterns, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, so we have covered a lot of the UK!  On top of this we hold Regional Rambles, where we lead a ramble in the area where we live and these can carry on right through the year, weather permitting!  These are very popular.

Nothing stands in the way of a good adventure in the New Forest

The disabled ramblers in the New Forest National Park. Photo credit: Disabled Ramblers.

Another adventure in early October saw the group in one of the delightful enclosures of the New Forest. The picture above shows us being escorted by the gentleman who looks after this particular woodland, called Pondhead Enclosure, and manages it in the traditional way, through coppicing, charcoal burning, cutting pea-sticks and layering hedges etc. You can really understand how it lifts our spirits when we get out into our beautiful countryside and see all the lovely sights that make our rambles so vital to our wellbeing.  

Our activities gives many of our members a completely new lifestyle and something to look forward to for the future. Even if you feel that you don’t really want to go out when you first get up, by the time you get to the ramble and greet everyone you really feel much better. You make many friends this way and it is comforting to be among others with health and disability problems to see how they deal with these and learn from each other. By the end of the day there is a lovely feeling of relaxation and anticipation for the next adventure!

Valerie Rawlings and Bob McLellan

Disabled Ramblers.

For more information on Disabled Ramblers including how to get involved click here.