South Devon Ramblers gain a new perspective on walking

People and dogs meeting in a carpark

The South Devon Ramblers enjoyed a new perspective on the walking experience, when they teamed up for a walk with a group of visually impaired people on a walking holiday, along with their guide dogs.

Group chair, Eric Evans, received a request to help to plan and lead a walk for the group of holiday makers staying at the Cliffden Hotel in nearby Teignmouth, not only for them to be able to enjoy the local Devon countryside, but also to give their hardworking guide dogs a rare chance for some off-lead time. Eric decided that in this very special case they could waive the group’s usual strict ‘dogs on a lead’ policy (after a thorough risk assessment of course!).

Once a route had been decided, the two groups met on a sunny September day to embark on their walk. Each visually impaired walker was teamed up with a South Devon Ramblers member, who described the walk and shared what they could see as they went along.

Group secretary Tessa Smith said: “It was great to meet such a lovely, interesting group of people. The lady I was walking with said she liked trees, so I led her to some trees so she could touch them. I also described the shape of the landscape and the hills to her, using her hand.”

Tessa added: “It was fascinating to get a glimpse into another world and experience the walk from a different point of view. We shared what we could see and our visitors got us thinking about using our other senses to notice other things, like the sounds we could hear and even the smell of a pile of logs.”

In the meantime, their canine companions were very excited to have the opportunity for a bit of time off work and had a wonderful time enjoying the countryside.

Four people seated on a bench with dogs sitting in front

Carole Butler, volunteer activity coordinator at the Cliffden Hotel in Teignmouth, said: “We all enjoyed the walk. The guests all said how lovely it was to meet new people with such a good knowledge of the local area and do such a lovely new walk. The extra info about the local history was especially interesting and the walk was well thought out for both guests and dogs. The guide dogs work so hard, so as much as anything these walks are a little holiday for them. We all look forward to our next adventure together.”

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