Accessible countryside trails in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon given boost

A selection of accessible trails in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon have been given a promotional boost to enable more people to explore the countryside.

Open Country, a Harrogate-based charity providing countryside activities for a range of abilities, has updated its Breakfree Trails pack for the area, which highlights a dozen accessible routes, from Harrogate’s Valley Gardens to Swinsty Reservoir and Staveley Nature Reserve.

Packs also exist for the Nidderdale, Wharfedale, Wakefield and Leeds areas.

They have been developed with wheelchair users in mind, but will also appeal to families with young children and pushchairs, cyclists, anyone who might struggle with exercise and older people with limited mobility.

Publication of the new pack has been supported by the member for Knaresborough West, Cllr Matt Walker, who provided a grant of £2,000 from his locality budget to cover the printing costs of the packs.

Each of the council’s 90 members has an annual locality budget of £10,000 to enable them to support local projects.

Cllr Walker said:

“There are many good reasons to get out into the fresh air to enjoy the hugely varied countryside our county has to offer.

“The benefits to our mental and physical wellbeing are well documented, and it is essential that the opportunity is open to everyone, so I am delighted to have been able to support the creation of these packs, which are readily available and which offer accessible routes to local residents as well as visitors from other parts of North Yorkshire and beyond.”

For each of the routes in the Harrogate area, the pack describes the surface, the severity of any inclines, the most difficult parts of the route and whether they are suitable for cyclists.

The routes also include Knaresborough waterside, the Harland Way and Fountains Abbey.

Open Country’s chief officer, David Shaftoe, said:

“We’re really delighted to be able to issue this updated guide to the very best of our local accessible countryside.

“It’s all part of Open Country’s goal to help disabled people access and enjoy the great outdoors. We hope that people will enjoy using it and will want to try one of our other Breakfree packs for adjacent areas.”