Disability and countryside access

The Ramblers is an inclusive organisation dedicated to making walking and the enjoyment of the outdoors accessible to all, including those who currently have the least opportunity to walk. We want Britain to be a place where as many people as possible choose to go walking, and where it’s easy and enjoyable to do so, whether in the countryside or in the city. We work to remove the barriers that currently prevent many people from enjoying the benefits of walking.

The Ramblers supports work to make both the urban and rural walking environment more accessible to people with limited mobility and wheelchair users, including improving the accessibility of the path network as well as access to land, so long as this is done appropriately to the environment, avoiding excessive “urbanisation” of the countryside.

We support the initiatives of other organisations such as the Disabled Ramblers and statutory bodies to this end.

We work through local access forums and other bodies to help ensure that accessibility and the needs of people with disabilities are taken into account in plans and strategies for walking networks and countryside access.

In particular the Ramblers supports the British Standard 5709:2006 on Gaps, Gates and Stiles which requires the least restrictive option for all potential users, including people with disabilities or limited mobility, where a path crosses a boundary and specifies high-quality standards where barriers are justified. We support the replacement of all stiles with more accessible alternatives, except where stiles themselves are heritage structures, in which case they can be supplemented by an adjacent more accessible alternative.

The Ramblers calls for better information to be made available on the accessibility of paths, the countryside and green spaces so that users can confidently make their own judgement about whether or not a particular route is within their ability or what form of assistance they might require.

We also work to extend opportunities for walking to as many people as possible. We provide practical information and support to our Areas and Groups on welcoming people with disabilities and long-term conditions on their led walks. Through practical projects such as Get Walking Keep Walking, Walking for Health, Medal Routes, and Let's Walk Cymru, we promote the benefits of walking to those who could most benefit from being more active, including people with physical and mental disabilities, mental health issues, and specific long-term conditions and diseases.

Further information:

Updated July 2020