Disability and public access
Spending time outdoors connecting with nature should be easy, accessible and enjoyable for everyone
Making our paths, tracks and trails accessible
Spending time in nature is good for our bodies and minds. We’re happier, healthier, and likely to live longer when we spend time in green spaces. Spending time outdoors, connecting with nature should be easy, accessible and enjoyable for everyone, whether in the countryside or in towns and cities.
Natural England estimate that over 20% of people in England cannot use public rights of way due to mobility issues. We think it is really important to make our paths, accessible to disabled people and wheelchair users in a way that is sensitive to the local environment. We support the initiatives of organisations such as the Countryside Mobility, the Disabled Ramblers as well as by local authorities.
Many routes that might otherwise be accessible to disabled people, have stiles and kissing gates which act as barriers. Where a path crosses a field boundary, in line with the British Standard, the gate, stile or gap should be the least restrictive option for all users, including disabled people or those with limited mobility.
What we want in the future
Given how many people experience mobility challenges, we want to see:
Better information made available on the accessibility of paths, the countryside and green spaces so that users can have certainty and confidence when using the network.
Stiles replaced by less restrictive structures where this is compatible with farming practices. The exception is where the stiles are heritage structures, in which case they can be supplemented by an adjacent more accessible alternative.
Action from the UK government on targets and long-term plans to improve access to nature for all, including disabled people.
Payments to farmers and land managers under the Environmental Land Management scheme to improve the accessibility of existing paths.
Our work to open the way
As a charity we’re dedicated to removing barriers so everyone can enjoy walking in green spaces. Our flagship programme of Ramblers Wellbeing Walks is England’s largest health walks programme that makes getting active easier, for everyone. We recognise the benefits of walking for mental and physical wellbeing and reducing social isolation. We make sure our short group walks are suitable for everyone, regardless of ability. They’re ideal for people:
with restricted mobility
with declining health who want to stay active but at reduced levels
new to physical activity
recovering from ill health
suffering from isolation
You can support our work to improve access to nature by donating or becoming a member. Together we’ll increase access to green spaces, open up more places to walk and boost Britain’s wellbeing one step at a time.