Peak District paths are enjoyed by visually impaired walkers
Friday 2 December 2016
Visually impaired walkers from across the UK are discovering that the paths and trails in the Peak District – Britain’s first National Park – offer adventure as well as being accessible.
“Ideal walking country” is how RP Trekkers, a visually impaired walking group, described the Peak District after exploring the area on a walk with National Park rangers.
Named for the retinitis pigmentosa (RP) condition they all have, members of the RP Trekkers group have inherited eye conditions that affect the retina at the back of the eye.
RP varies from person-to-person but causes a range of permanent changes to sight including blindness, tunnel vision and the inability to see in low light.
Several members of the group have the deafblind condition Ushers Syndrome which is deafness and RP.
Eleven RP Trekkers, including members from Portsmouth, Cambridge and Newport, took to the paths on a bespoke guided walk around Bretton, near Great Hucklow, led by a National Park ranger. They experienced the hills, dales, woodland, fields and drystone walls that characterise this area at the edge of the Dark Peak and White Peak landscapes.
RP Trekker organiser Teresa Waldron said: “It is important for groups like ours to get out and enjoy the countryside but we need the support of people with local knowledge to help plan and guide our routes. Thanks to the help from National Park rangers we were able to walk for 7 miles enjoying the area’s natural beauty and tranquility, and finding out about its history.”
Peak District National Park volunteer ranger Sian Mead, who led the group on the walk, said: “What an inspiring experience it was walking with this group – they wanted a walking adventure and it was a privilege to help them find it in the National Park.”
Rangers lead a variety of guided walks throughout the year – the full programme is at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/events.
Information about visiting the Peak District National Park for people with disabilities is available at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/accessible-places-to-visit.
Accessible Derbyshire named the Peak District National Park ‘Organisation of the Year 2016’ at their recent awards ceremony at Chatsworth.
Picture caption: Visually impaired RP Trekkers enjoyed walking in the Peak District, with organiser Teresa Waldron (far right) and National Park ranger Sian Mead (second from right).