York’s Walking Group for Ambulatory Disabled People

Ambulatory is a bit of a mouthful but it just means you can get around on foot.

Open Country is a Yorkshire-based charity with over 30 years of experience in enabling disabled people to access and enjoy the countryside. They are here to tell us a bit about their new walking group:

Group of walkers in a green field with a stately home in the distance

‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes’ so the age old saying goes. But as the autumn approaches and the weather starts to turn, there will no doubt be some days to come where the weather will challenge those who enjoy getting out and about in the countryside, particularly those with a disability.

Here at Open Country we don’t let anything other than extreme weather get in the way of our outdoor activities and our York Walking Group will be getting out throughout the autumn and winter months.

“Bad weather doesn’t stop us doing what we do best – getting people with a disability out and about to enjoy the pleasures the countryside offers all year round,” says Lizzie, Open Country’s York Walking Group leader. “For a lot of people, coming out with us in the winter months is important as it’s a time when our members might otherwise struggle to get out and about, which can affect their health and wellbeing. Walking in the rain or snow can be more of a sensory experience for those with a visual impairment and the post-walk cake and cuppa is always much more enjoyable if you’ve really earned it!”

Harrogate-based charity Open Country launched the York Walking Group this summer to enable disabled people to enjoy monthly weekend walks of around 5-7 miles. Minibus provision means that the group are able to explore the wonderful walking routes around the wider Yorkshire countryside. Volunteers are on hand to guide people and offer support to make the walks more accessible and enjoyable.

Lizzie continues: “Open Country’s walks complement existing activities such as the Health Walks provided by the council and organisations such as Move the Masses. There are already options for wheelchair users and those with limited ability so we wanted to provide the opportunity for ambulant disabled people (people who can get around on foot) to enjoy longer walks throughout the year.”

The walks have proved popular so far with routes taking in Sutton Bank and Castle Howard. Numbers are currently limited on the minibus due to social distancing. But the charity is hoping to increase participation in the longer term.

The walks are a full day out with the group meeting at a central location in York at 10am and returning by 4pm. Walkers bring a packed lunch and a flask and there’s usually a cafe stop depending on the route. The walking groups are aimed at improving your health and wellbeing, meeting new friends and developing self confidence. Covid regulations are followed.

Open Country also runs a Tandem Club for people with disabilities which meets on a Tuesday evening throughout the spring and summer. Although the season will come to an end in October, they would love to hear from anyone interested in joining them in 2022. 

For more information on the York Walking Group or Tandem Club please call the team at Open Country on 01423 507227 or email info@opencountry.org.uk

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