First walking guidebook of Britain for wheelchair users

Background photo: Jim Cornall

OS’s new ‘Pathfinder Lake District and Cumbria – Accessible Routes for All’ walking guidebook opens doors to 38 short walks in the Lake District National Park, the Cumbrian Solway Coast, and along sections of Hadrian’s Wall.

The guidebook aims to empower wheelchair users to explore the beauty of the British countryside. Every route has been selected to ensure a seamless experience, so they can fully immerse themselves in the landscapes and hidden treasures the Lake District and Cumbria has to offer.

The guidebook has been categorised into one of four accessibility ratings: easy, moderate, challenging, and very challenging. This grading system allows individuals to choose routes that align with the levels they are comfortable with – ensuring a safe and enjoyable adventure.

All routes in the guidebook are also pushchair friendly and suitable for families with young children. It is the latest book in OS’s Pathfinder series, a range of books designed for experienced walkers to follow.

‘Pathfinder Lake District and Cumbria Accessible Routes for All’ was written by Mike Routledge, who lives and works in Cumbria. Routledge is a volunteer at the Calvert Trust based near Keswick, a specialist outdoor residential centre offering a range of accessible activity breaks for the people with disabilities.

“I was inspired to write the book after a group of Calvert guests from Liverpool bemoaned the absence of a detailed walking guide written specifically for wheelchair users visiting the area by themselves,” Routledge explained.

“Thanks to support from wheelchair-based colleagues, various Lake District organisations, and OS themselves, the result has been the production of this unique guidebook. As far as we are aware there has been nothing of its kind before specifically written for wheelchair users. The book aims to remove barriers, install confidence, and encourage wheelchair users who may have been daunted by the prospect of venturing off the beaten track to enjoy the beauty and freedom they may have felt they couldn’t experience before.”

Nick Giles, OS MD for Leisure, added: “This is a first anywhere in Britain. OS is committed to making the outdoors accessible and safe for everyone, and we are delighted to have supported Mike in creating this book that makes walking routes accessible for all to enjoy.

“It will mean wheelchair users can plan their routes with confidence, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable day out from start to finish.

“The book has a unique combination of well-known routes alongside hidden gems in lesser-known areas, so you can enjoy serene lakeside strolls, beautiful coastal paths, or wonderful views up in the fells. Easier urban walks act as a gateway for those starting to explore, while more challenging routes provide an opportunity for wheelchair users to achieve goals they might have previously thought beyond their reach.”

In addition, OS has just published a series of 15 walks in Exmoor National Park that are suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs as ‘Recommended Routes’ on OS Map App. These walks are available on OS Maps App for free.

‘Pathfinder 86 Lake District and Cumbria – Accessible Routes for All’ is available in the OS Shop for £12.99.