South Downs leading the way
The South Downs Way has become the first National Trail in the country to become fully inclusive, as anyone in a wheelchair can travel on any part of the trail, from Eastbourne to Winchester.
Simon Mulholland of Pony Access has designed a special pony cart which enables any wheelchair user to access rough terrain anywhere along the National Trail.
“It’s very exciting to see people able to enjoy everything that makes the South Downs special for the first time,” Simon explained. “People will be able to turn up, have a go and leave again without leaving any trace on the protected landscape. They don’t even have to get out of their wheelchairs, which some people just aren’t able to do. This is just the start of my aim to make the whole UK countryside inclusive and accessible to all.”
Vehicles are forbidden on UK bridleways and footpaths so the pony cart has had to be specially designed to both take a wheelchair and be allowed on the trail.
Andy Gattiker, South Downs Way Trail Officer, said: “More than 20,000 walkers, cyclists and horseriders travel the South Downs Way each year. We’re really pleased that it can now be opened up to even more people to enjoy.”
In the future the cart could potentially be used on any bridleway or footpath provided they are accessible without stiles or kissing gates.
More information about the pony cart is available at www.ponyaccess.com
Find out more about the South Downs Way at www.southdowns.gov.uk