My name is Debbie and I live in Cumbria. In 2011 I was diagnosed with
spinal degeneration and have since used a wheelchair. Before this, I had always been a keen hill walker. My husband Andy and I enjoyed long-distance treks – we’d completed a few together, including Coast to Coast, Dales Way and Cumbria Way.
Following the diagnosis, I began investigating all terrain wheelchairs which could get me back out into the hills. I found one called a TerrainHopper, a4x4 all terrain wheelchair, and it was with this that Andy and I completed the Coast to Coast walk, from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay in 2015. Last year, we published our first book, ‘In the Spirit of Wainwright’ Being able to get back out into the hills has given me my life back. I can now enjoy being back outside with my family and friends. I work closely with the Access Officer for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority in developing wheel-friendly routes within the Yorkshire Dales and also work with The Outdoor Guide to promote wheel-friendly walks.
Our aim is to encourage other people with disabilities to get outdoors and enjoy what the countryside not only has to offer, but to experience what being out there can do for you.
My work with The Outdoor Guide with Julia Bradbury is to develop wheel friendly treks in the countryside. These range from push doable with a manual wheelchair through to higher, longer, more challenging treks in the hills and dales with a powered ATW. Whilst on our mission - making the inaccessible accessible - we often come across a number of factors that when they are taken in the context of accessibility, of a countryside for all, are significant.
‘In the Spirit of Wainwright’ is a warm hearted and humorous look our experiences of our wheel friendly Coast To Coast trek across England and will talk about the highlights and the pitfalls of trying to make the inaccessible accessible.