As one of Britain’s most outstanding natural beauty spots, thousands of visitors flock to the Peak District National Park each year. However, enjoying the park’s walking routes can be difficult for those with mobility issues. A recent donation by Yorkshire Water is set to change this though, making the park more accessible for all.
The water supply company has pledged £5,000 to the national park to create a guide showing the countryside routes that are suitable for people with restricted mobility. Titled Miles Without Stiles, the guide will promote routes that are free from stiles, steps and narrow gates and are therefore suitable for wheelchair users, families with pushchairs, visually impaired people and those with disabilities or limited mobility.
The project has received backing from Paralympic cyclist, Karen Darke, who took home a gold medal at Rio 2016. She commented: “I’m all for making your own adventures, so it’s great to hear that thanks to Yorkshire Water’s donation people will be able to find out about and be inspired by the amazing countryside in the Peak District National Park.
“I think it’s fantastic that whatever their ability, more people will be able to enjoy the exercise and health benefits of Miles Without Stiles routes.”
Geoff Lomas, of Yorkshire Water, said: “All people benefit from being in the countryside and find that being near water is relaxing and inspiring. We have been developing routes on our land that are accessible to a wide a range of people, and aim to continue to give as many people as possible access to our recreation sites.
“We are very pleased to provide a boost to Miles Without Stiles, and let people know where they can visit with the least restriction.”
The Peak District National Park is working closely with Accessible Derbyshire, the Local Access Forum and disabled groups to further develop Miles Without Stiles routes.
Sue Smith, Peak District National Park’s Access Officer, said: “We’re delighted to have Yorkshire Water’s support for Miles Without Stiles – we plan to start work on identifying and improving the routes on the ground in the New Year and will launch the new guidebook in 2017.”
The guidebook will be available for free once released, although visitors are encouraged to make a donation to support the further development of more Miles Without Stiles routes.