Marie first joined Experience Community’s activities in 2014. She started out on our wheelchair walks at Dewsbury Country Park and along the Huddersfield Broad Canal. Soon after, she became a regular participant, then a volunteer and is now a Trustee of the organisation.
Even before she got involved with us, she’d started getting back into the outdoors after a life-changing event. A spinal cord injury in 2012 meant that she began to use a wheelchair. She had always loved the outdoors, enjoying camping and walking, and wanted to get back out into nature. Whilst still in the first three month rehabilitation period at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, one of Marie’s friends picked her up and pushed her around one of her favourite local places: Newmillerdam Country Park in Wakefield.
Since then, every time she has returned to Newmillerdam, she has managed to get further and further into the country park.
She told us that, “at Newmillerdam, there is a lake with a fairly flat path, just a few slopes – nothing too huge – which takes about an hour to get around. After starting off using a wheelchair, I then tried using a Freewheel (wheelchair front attachment) which helped me roll over the bark pathways but it’s only since I got a Mountain Trike (all-terrain wheelchair) that I was able to get off the lakeside path and further into the woodland. The Mountain Trike is the best piece of equipment to tackle the woodland as there are some sections both around the lake and in the woods that can get boggy in wintry weather. The Mountain Trike stops me getting really muddy!”
Marie likes a challenge, and the variety of paths that the woodland offers. “It’s nice to go around the lake for an hour or so, but if you want a longer walk, it’s good to get in the woods. The woodland terrain is up and down, and there are a couple of places where you can access the woods. There is one main car park and a second smaller car park at one of the entrances to the lakeside and while I can easily access some of the woodland paths, there are some steps and sections that are too steep.”
Newmillerdam is beautiful throughout the seasons. Spring is a great time to visit because of the bluebells carpeting the woodland floor, though Marie’s favourite season is autumn because of all the colours of the changing trees.
Within the country park, there is the Lakeside Café and toilets. You’ll also find The Fox & Hounds nearby, a partly dog-friendly pub which has an access ramp. Marie says it’s a great place to end a walk around the Country Park.
Please visit our website at www.experiencecommunity.co.uk for other walk ideas. If you have a disability and would like to share your favourite walk with us, please do get in touch through our social media networks or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.