Monday, 6 April 2015

Walking with wheelchairs - Wilstone /Tringford/ Startops reservoirs

Wilstone Reservoir 

 Today is Bank Holiday Monday and it's been gloriously sunny.  Earlier, we decided to take Heni out on a walk around Wilstone, Tringford and Startops reservoirs near Aylesbury....a walk I have done before with a friend but have never done with "H". Unfortunately I  couldn't remember if there were any gates or stiles to contend with along the way.... a rather important detail for when walking with wheelchair users! However, seeing as the "P.E Mead Farm Shop" (where I buy my ostrich eggs)  is right next to the reservoir .... we decided to take the chance and  head up the A41 on the half hour journey. 

Heni looking at the lambs

We have two modes of transport for Heni is her "actual" wheelchair that won't go on anything other than concrete and very solid flat surfaces and the other is the "Advanced Mobility Independence Max " chair we bought from Chariots all Terrain Pushchairs ( about a year ago.

 We took it to the Lake District with us last April and it was a great replacement to the chariot we used to have and that she had outgrown. The chair is awesome for Heni as she is very long and super skinny and it gives her lots of leg room and a comfortable sling style back to the chair that can accommodate her scoliosis. On a nice day like today she can be exposed to the elements but on rainy days it has the benefit of the rain hood that keeps the wind and rain out and acts as an enclosure like the Chariot did. We usually take both with us... she travels in her wheelchair and on arrival we then transfer her to the "buggy" that we keep stored in the top box for easy access.

 Today's  walk was about 4 miles... or so....I didn't measure it but it felt about that long! Our route started out through Wilstone village, with lots of pretty cottages, lambs in the fields and  daffodils out in full bloom along the wayside.

Grand Union Canal

We Then walked along the canal pathway and encountered a number of steps near the locks but nothing that couldn't be navigated.
At one of the bridges we came off the canal path (near Blue Bells Tearooms) and walked by the side of  Startops reservoir to take in the views.

Startops Reservoir

Along the route we came across two of the new metal "kissing gates" and managed to get Heni's chair though with no problems. No mean feat considering that the buggy is much longer than a normal chair.

What a great idea..... A large kissing gate.

Wilstone Reservoir

 We were beginning to  feel rather good at the fact that we had found a new wheelchair friendly walk when along came the first obstacle. Towards the end of the route near Wilstone reservoir, we came across a steep set of stairs in the grass embankment.

first obstacle!
The descent.

 Luckily we didn't let this put us off and "team worked" it down the steps... Dad at the back controlling the descent holding on to the safety strap feature and mum at the side stopping the chair and oxygen cylinders from toppling sideways down the hill.... kids on camera making funny remarks!

It was also fortunate For "H" that the chair has good suspension and chunky pneumatic tyres to ease the ride somewhat.
 This pathway then led us to two more metal kissing gates..... exactly the same gates as before BUT for some reason these ones were a smaller version?!   Tell me why? Tell me why? Tell me why?
There was NO WAY that we were going to get the chair though these ones.


The gate was a slightly harder thing to by pass but as luck would have it, everyone was out walking today and there were plenty of people on the route who offered their kind support and help. I whisked Heni out of her chair and carried her and the oxygen bag through the gates.... while the men did the "muscle work" and  lifted the chair over the gates. Good job "H" is still carry-able at almost 20!


Once past the last two hurdles (which happened to be in the last few hundred meters of the walk) we were on the straight and narrow and made our way back to the farm shop for some refreshments and a peruse around the specialty food section.We went back home laden with goodies from the shop for tonight's tea.... but alas no ostrich egg. Perhaps we will have to come back another day and find  another route to walk (minus the stairs and gates of course).

We love to walk and sometimes we look up the easy access routes  where you know there are going to be no obstacles and are assured of a good surface on which to push the chair. I'm really grateful that Countryside management and institutions like the National Trust are investing in more and more of these facilities. They make the countryside more accessible to families like ours.
However, we do tend to have a spirit of adventure that the pre-marked routes often don't give and end up (like today) going off piste. Most of the time it works out...other times we get in to a spot of trouble like today.... but  with a bit of persistence or with some help it always seems to work out and we always get home....eventually.
Well we've never had to camp....yet!


Today's walk has  got me looking forward to next weeks adventures in the beautiful Lake District (Cumbria). 
I'll be sure to post some pics from there.  
The Area we walked in this morning.

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