The charity Lake District Mobility has recently launched its first all-terrain mobility scooter, known as a Tramper, at Whinlatter Forest.
The mobility scooters are available for hire for people with limited mobility to participate in the same outdoor activities as their family, friends and the wider community. Julia Walker, founder of the charity, said: “I’m excited that people can come here and spend time together and they’re not having to leave someone in the cafe or at home, instead they can feel part of a group.”
Julia, 37, of Cockermouth, suffers with problems with her pelvis and was not able to enjoy walks for many years and her grandfather in law, a former mountaineer, was also missing the views of the Lake District. She continued: “This is where the idea came from. There are 47 sites in the South West where you can hire Tramper mobility scooters and there are a couple in south Cumbria but nothing up here. Nine out of 10 people who use Trampers don’t class themselves as disabled, it could be people with heart problems, people who can normally only walk short distances or a have limited mobility. If you can’t normally get involved in outdoor activities, this is for you.”
Pat Newlove, 70, of Cockermouth, was the first person to sign up to the scheme. She commented: “This has opened up spaces I never thought I’d be able to enjoy again. Now I can be part of a group and get out. The Tramper mobility scooter is very easy to use and very stable.”
Sarah Bromiley, community project manager at Age UK, explained that although Pat enjoyed group activities with the charity, it is only because of this initiative that she can now actively participate with the walking group. She explained: “She never expected this opportunity to open up to her. If you think that when you’re in a wheelchair you always have a person behind you, with the Tramper mobility scooter you can see the person and have a conversation with them, you can have that connection. This project is giving people who are potentially isolated and lonely access to the community and people who can normally walk short distances can go a little further.”
The £8,000 Tramper mobility scooter was funded thanks to cash from the county council’s local committee for Allerdale and the charity has already secured funding for two more Trampers thanks to a private donor. Lake District Mobility, which has collaborated with Whinlatter, Cumbria CVS and Countryside Mobility, is hoping to identify sites and have the other Tramper mobility scooters in situe before the summer.
Nathan Fox, Forestry Commission ranger at Whinlatter, said: “The Forestry Commission provides access for a whole range of different people but the fact that we’re on a mountain here makes it more challenging. I’m looking forward to Whinlatter being opened up to a whole new range of people and working with the charity.”
Tramper mobility scooters have a weight capacity of up to 25-stone and on a charge, a 30 mile distance. The public can apply for annual membership to the scheme which lasts for 12 months and costs £10. A taster or temporary membership lasts for two weeks and costs £2.50.