Connecting with nature when you have limited mobility

Ok, so I’ve covered connecting with nature when you’re stuck in your house, what about those of us who can sometimes leave the house but have limited mobility?

As much as I want to go tramping through wild woods and paddle in streams and hike up hills, it’s never going to happen.

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Wet and windy Scarborough, from the car where we had our picnic

So what can I do instead?

  • Bird watching/photography from the car was the theme of an article in the latest Disabled Photographers Society magazine.  There is a perception that to birdwatch, it’s necessary to trek miles of cliff paths or scrub.  However, with sensitivity, the car can be a great location to spot birds from.
  • If you have a wheelchair, that will help a bit – some reserves/forests etc have specific wheelchair routes but from experience (being pushed in a manual wheelchair), they can be hard work to wheel over.  Some places hire out all terrain wheelchairs which look fantastic.  You can also get wheelchairs for going on the sand eg at Whitby and other east coast beaches.
  • Even if you don’t use a wheelchair, information on wheelchair routes can be helpful: Accessible Countryside for Everyone, Walks With Wheelchairs, The Bimblers and Access The Dales are just a few of the websites which can help you.  I’ve found that a number of nature reserves are fairly wheelchair friendly so maybe have a look at those as well.  They have the advantage of sometimes having facilities such as blue badge parking and disabled toilets.
  • Look into wheelchair routes but don’t limit yourself to them.  For example, if I was going off the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust website, I’d possibly not have bothered to visit Moorlands and the path there was better than the advertised wheelchair path in Dalby Forest.  Euan’s Guide is one way to find out what other disabled people thought.
  • If you don’t have a wheelchair, can’t hire one and have limited mobility, just going for a drive through the countryside can be a great option.
  • But don’t overlook what’s on your doorstep.  Perhaps you have a garden?  If so, could you or a friend create a wild area, put up a birdbox or set up some chairs or a shed so you can watch and listen to the wildlife that is right there in your back yard.  The same goes for the stars.  Although light pollution can limit things, you can still see some spectacular sights from your door.
  • Try your hand at gardening.  Some people struggle because it’s hard to bend down, if this is the case maybe think about pots or raised beds.
  • Maybe look into local parks.  Although they tend to be more managed that The Great Outdoors, you can still find lots and lots of interesting plants and animals hanging out.
  • If you can, walking barefoot on sand, grass or the earth is a great feeling and really helps me feel connected to nature.
  • Get to know a tree – spend time with it, return to it at different times of the year, see how it changes.  This can be any tree and most people will have a tree reasonably close by or one they see regularly on the way to work or hospital appointments.
  • Take up photography.  It can really change the way you see things: “…carrying a camera trains you to scout out beauty in unexpected places” (Oh Comely).  Similarly, taking an identification book with you helps you look more closely at trees, plants and animals.
  • And try some of the things I mentioned in my previous post.

Please use the comments to share any other ideas!

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4 thoughts on “Connecting with nature when you have limited mobility”

  1. I have a suggestion for a way to go rambling without leaving the house.
    While researching a walk I discovered that Google has been recording National Trails (walking tracks in the UK) using Streetview technology. As of March 2016 there were 15 trails available (according to this article: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-35774154). I highly recommend the Cleveland Way, which runs from Osmotherley to Filey in Yorkshire, and covers some of the most stunning scenery along the Yorkshire coast (http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/cleveland-way/google-trekker). It looks like you can also walk virtually in NSW, Australia (see: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/google-trekker). Maybe other national parks will follow?

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