Wednesday 8 February 2023
Upgraded trail routes, industry-leading mobility equipment and more Miles without Stiles trails are all part of a £130,000 programme to improve accessibility in the Peak District.
The significant funding has been made available to the Peak District National Park Authority via Defra and is part of wider plans shared recently in the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP).
The Peak District has already led the way in several areas of physical accessibility, including offering around 35 miles of high-profile multi-user trails across former railway lines and 20 selected shorter routes as part of the innovative Miles without Stiles initiative, complemented by adapted cycles and mobility equipment for hire.
The funding comes as part of Defra's 'Access for All' programme which will see £14.5m targeted overall across the country with improvements to protected landscapes - such as National Parks, national trails, forests and the wider countryside to help bring the benefits of spending time in nature to everyone.
Locally, this has allowed long-planned ambitions to safeguard and improve selected accessible routes to get underway and will also see the National Park Authority’s fleet of motorised 'Tramper' vehicles increase three-fold to nine. These are available across several locations in the White Peak and Dark Peak.
Additionally, the popular range of Miles without Stiles routes will also be expanded, supported by the route improvement works made possible by the funding.
The National Park Authority will complete and launch a number of projects from the funding programme in the coming weeks, in time for the busy spring and summer visiting period.
The Access for All programme was developed in response to the Landscapes Review, which called on the government to open up our national landscapes to more diverse audiences. The programme also delivers on commitments in the 25 Year Environment Plan and the Environmental Improvement Plan to encourage more people to spend time in nature to benefit their health and wellbeing.
Responding to the recent Environmental Improvement Plan, Andrew McCloy, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: "Many National Parks, not least the Peak District, are already on the doorstep of millions of people, helping to support the government’s ambition that no-one should live more than 15 minutes from green space.
"National Parks play a pivotal role supporting people, places, climate and nature. We have a proud history of creating and maintaining accessible walking routes, developing pioneering initiatives such as Miles without Stiles and introducing inclusive cycles.
"Working in partnership with others to ensure access for all, we can help to ensure a consistent visitor experience and facilitate wider engagement with the outdoors. This additional funding will help towards developing and securing similar initiatives."