We met with Rowena Macaulay in Manningtree to chat about accessibility in the landscape, which is something we are aware of in our project walks as we're only able to announce one of the six as accessible to wheel chair users. Rowena is the organiser of Jane's Walk in Colchester and Walk Colchester https://walkcolchester.wordpress.com a group dedicated to promoting safe and enjoyable walking, provide information about walking access and to aid protection of our green open spaces.
She met us outside the North House Gallery in her day wheelchair, but we helped her to fit a third powered wheel to the front turning it into a trike that could be driven along. It is always a trade off between manoeuvrability and stability, she said in regard to wheel chairs, but the combination she was using today certainly did a great job on the pavements of Manningtree and Mistley, as we proceeded along The Walls, which is a greensward alongside the River Stour. We discussed the project at some length, our backgrounds and history and what had led us to this place in time.
It was certainly a fragrant walk with the smell of malt permeating all of Mistley, and the high temperature of 29 degrees somehow helped to heighten the senses as we walked along. We passed an allotment, or so it seemed, perched on the railway embankment, and Rowena's wheelchair brushed against the lavender to release its scent to mingle with that of the sweet peas and fennel.
It was narrow here but the path was just wide enough for us to pass by. For a wheel chair user, or anyone with some kind of impairment, information is key. Each person's needs are very different so it is important to have enough information on as many aspects of the terrain, gradients, surfaces and barriers as possible, so that people can make up their own assessments.
So, we'll endeavour to supply this for our walk on 23rd July, and others as we walk in the areas ourselves, in order to help people decide whether they can attend the walk, which we certainly hope that they can. And of course, we'll try to answer any questions that you may have about the routes and paths that we will use in our events.
We arrived back opposite the gallery all too soon, but we did manage to plot our walk on a map using View Ranger, with some embedded live Tweets, which you can view here.