Accessible Tarka Trail Highlights

Last Bridge To Bideford
CC by Andrew (Last Bridge To Bideford)

The Tarka Trail is a beautiful walking and cycling route spanning North and West Devon, as well as Torridge. The trail is one of the most extensive dedicated walking and cycling paths in the country and has an array of highlights along the route. This blog will explore some of those attractions that are wheelchair-accessible, and will hopefully encourage you to visit some of them for yourself.

Most people think of the Tarka Trail as only consisting of the 30-mile stretch between Braunton and Meeth. However, the full Tarka Trail is actually a figure of eight around Devon, reaching from Bideford to Exmoor, and from Exmoor to the tip of Dartmoor. In total, the trail is over 160 miles in length, with many attractions along the way. This blog will include the extended 160-mile trail’s attractions.

The Trail

Obviously, the main attraction on the Tarka Trail is the trail itself. With the 30-mile path from Braunton to Meeth being accessible to wheelchairs, there’s plenty for those to see along this stunning stretch. See some of the beautiful sights along the route, like the vast Taw-Torridge Estuary along with its over 20,000 occasional migratory waders, or Beam Estate – the birthplace of Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter. The Tarka Trail has some fantastic sights accessible to wheelchairs, so next time you’re nearby, take a look! We promise you won’t regret it.

Instow Signal Box & Bideford Railway Centre

This little part of British railway history is situated on the Bideford part of the Tarka Trail. These places offer a peek into the past for people who are interested in railways and their history. Sadly, no trains have run between Bideford and Barnstaple station since 1982 – if you don’t count the time in 2011 where model trains completed the route. Either way, this attraction is a fantastic slice of British rail history that’s mostly wheelchair accessible and is definitely worth a look.

Queen’s Theatre

Nearby to the Tarka Trail in Barnstaple, the first-rate Queen’s Theatre is situated. Come here to watch some fantastic performers, eat some good food, and generally have a good time. The theatre has accessible seats and provides free tickets for carers. If the theatre is something that interests you, this is the place to go.

Arlington Court

Situated within the north loop of the extended Tarka Trail, Arlington Court is an early 19th-century manor house with a beautiful garden and some brilliant architecture. There are plenty of exciting things to see at the house, most of which are accessible with manual wheelchairs or small mobility scooters. The National Trust owns the house, and parking is very reasonable. Most of the garden is accessible – but some of the paths are formed of gravel, so you may need a more robust scooter if you want to explore the whole garden. If you’re interested in being able to traverse more rough paths like this, consider buying or hiring one of our all-terrain mobility scooters.

Exmoor Zoo

Exmoor Zoo is a brilliant attraction near the north-eastern part of the Tarka Trail. There’s a fantastic range of flora and fauna available for you to see here, including the only pair of black leopards on display in the UK. The zoo is very accessible for wheelchair users, with the majority of the paths made from concrete, and the rest being scree. Exmoor Zoo is a wonderful day out for the entire family – something that everyone will enjoy from nine to ninety! If you’re looking for a fun, cheap, and educational day out, then this is the place to go!

Meerkats at the zoo

High Streets

If shopping is your thing, then the high streets of towns like Barnstaple and Bideford are for you. Situated closeby to the Tarka Trail, these places have everything from fashion retailers to unique antique shops. The locations are mostly wheelchair accessible, and parking is usually quite wheelchair friendly.

We hope that we’ve inspired you to visit the Tarka Trail. Thanks for reading this blog, and, whilst you’re here, why don’t you check out our previous blog for more attractions around North Devon.

5 Ways to Improve Your Sense of Freedom as a Wheelchair User

The determination and independence of Paralympic athletes is something to be admired. It can be challenging to know where to start in gaining a fully independent life or even know where to find the right information on getting started. We have put together some ideas on ways to achieve more independence and ultimately give you a new sense of freedom.

Disability symbol on a parking space

Continue reading “5 Ways to Improve Your Sense of Freedom as a Wheelchair User” »

Top Tips to Keep You Warm this Winter

The weather outside may be starting to get a little chillier, but that shouldn’t stop you getting out and about in the winter months. We have put together some top tips for keeping warm when venturing out, or even staying in, during the winter.

Gloves holding a cup of coffee whilst looking at high quality mobility scooters

Layer Up

Rather than just wearing one thick layer, like a big jumper, it is better to wear several thin layers of clothing, as they help trap the warm air close to your body and keep you warmer for longer. Also, when out and about in windy weather it is important to layer up, so you are less exposed to the cold. Go for material made of wool or fleece, as they will keep you warmest.

Cosy Feet

It is sometimes said having warm feet keeps the rest of you warm, so it is important to keep your feet as cosy as the rest of you, especially if you are not using them when getting around with a mobility scooter. Invest in some thermal socks, and sturdy footwear when outdoors, and have some cosy slippers and some fluffy socks for when you are at home. The air is coolest at ground level, so getting a footstool is good so you can keep your feet away from the floor and keep them toasty.

Hats, Scarves and Gloves

Most of our body heat is lost through the head and neck, so a hat and scarf are essentials you shouldn’t leave home without. Scarves should also be able to wrap around your lower face too, as when it is icy cold, it helps warm the air you are breathing to prevent a nasty shock to your lungs when breathing in. When it comes to gloves, mittens are sometimes better at keeping your hands warm, but they are not as dexterous. Also, if you are feeling cold at home, you can pop a hat or scarf on indoors!

Blankets and Shawls

Sitting down and not moving means you get colder quicker, so a blanket or shawl is needed to keep you snug, even when heading outdoors. You can get blankets that are slightly waterproof for using in wheelchairs and mobility scooters outdoors, but at home, a big cosy blanket or shawl you can easily wrap around you will be sufficient.

Bedtime

When heading to bed, you may want to put on some thermal underwear or bed socks, which will help you keep you warm through the night. A soft hat or cap might also be needed, as your head is the most exposed to the cold. A hot water bottle is a simple but effective way of keeping warm in the evening and in bed too – get one with a fluffy cover for extra snugness!

Hot Food and Drinks

After being outdoors in the cold, there is nothing which will warm you up quicker than some hot food or drink. A carb-rich and slow energy release meal, such as porridge, soup or stew are recommended, as your body will warm up as it burns off the food. When outdoors, having a warm drink in a Thermos flask is an excellent idea, as it can keep you warm when you’re on the go.

Make sure you follow these top tips to stay warm if you are feeling chilly this winter or if you’re planning on going out in the cold in one of our high quality mobility scooters.

5 Tips to Help Keep Your Brain Healthy in Later Life

Even if our bodies need assistance, with walking sticks or high quality mobility scooters, our brains have the capacity to strengthen and reduce the signs of aging. This is by neuroplasticity, our brain’s ability to develop with new learning and experiences; throughout our lifetime our brain will continue to go through this development process.

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There is a lot of negative associations with aging, with many people feeling a need to reduce the symptoms of age and many companies cashing in on this. Cognitive aging refers to the developments and/or changes in our cognitive abilities as we age, and this varies from person to person. However as we develop from infancy to adulthood our bodies and mind go through a multitude of changes, which are usually embraced when we are younger.

Getting older we can expect several differences in the way our brains work. Common changes include a slower processing speed and reduced abilities in our working memory which can cause issues. It is established in current society that poor memory is just part and parcel of getting old, however this could be detrimental shared viewpoint to have as it discourages people from investigating the changes in their cognition. With such focus on the negative changes age brings to our mind the positive ones are often overlooked. As we get older our level of wisdom and knowledge increases, with our knowledge becoming useful in late adulthood. It has also been shown that as we age our levels of happiness can peak as our capacity for appreciations and happiness increase, whilst stress and anxiety will tend to decrease.

Older adults who participate in new learning experiences are shown to be healthy ones, as this strengthens cognitive abilities. Healthier, older individuals all tend to share the same characteristics which include high energy and activity levels, regular exercise, balanced diet, lower cases of chronic medical conditions, have regular check-ups and a good and diverse social life.

To become an optimum ager we recommend these 5 tips:

Regular exercise

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Regular exercise can have a great number of benefits for you, including the release of endorphins that improve mood and studies showing that moderate physical activity can improve your cognitive abilities.

Exercise guides and plans can help you organise the best route for you and your needs.

 

Reducing Risks

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Reducing the risks of diseases is a great way to manage your health as you get older. Exercise regularly, as advised by your doctor, and eating a healthy, balanced diet can be some of the most effective ways to manage your health. Other ways include managing stress, regular engagement in activities that boost your mood, meditation and seeking medical advice when needed.

 

Reviewing your health

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Self-managing your health can be an effective way to managing a healthy mind. Understanding how your health may affect your brain can be the first steps to preventing damaging aging processes.

 

Maintaining a good social life

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Maintaining a good social life in older age can be an effective way to keep your mind healthy and staying happy. Joining a club that relates to a hobby or passion can be a great way to learn something whilst making new friends.

 

Good night’s sleep

Senior man sleeping soundly while lying in bed in the morning with his wife asleep behind him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting a good night’s sleep helps our brains recover after the day and can promote overall well-being.

What benefits should you be receiving?

With many government benefits it can often be a bit difficult to navigate the all the information available to find the information that relates to you; this can often mean you are missing out on benefits that can really help you. Whether you are just off sick from work or are in need of all terrain mobility scooters and unable to work, here’s a simple and easy to digest information to the benefits you are entitled to.

If you are between the ages of 16-64 and have been dealing with a long-term health condition ability that is affecting you, you should be able to claim a benefit called the Personal Independence Payment.

Filling in benefits forms because of disability and needing use of all terrain mobility scooters.

For those under 16, with a health condition or disability that has resulted in the need for more care and supervision than those of your peers, there are benefits called Disability Living Allowance. Alternatively, on the other end of the scale, if you are aged 65 or over with care needs, there are benefits called Attendance Allowance which would be suitable for your needs. Whilst carers should look into claiming for Carer’s Allowance to help maintain a comfortable financial state while they care for someone who is severely sick or disabled.

Disability Living Allowances and Personal Independence Payments cannot be claimed at the same time.

For those that are employed and have had to take a substantial amount of time from work because of an illness or disability you can look into claiming Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance which can help you financially while you are off work. Workers who are financially struggling may also be entitled to Working Tax Credit, so be sure to see whether you are entitled to this.

Disabilities and illnesses that were caused either through serving in the armed forces or an injury or disease caused directly from work will also be entitled to benefits to help ease financial burdens.

If you have looked and claimed for all benefits and are not eligible you may be able to receive national insurance credits because you are unable to work or because you are caring for someone who is sick or disabled.

Benefits are usually paid directly into your bank account, building society or Post Office card account. If you do not have an account, benefits will be paid onto a Simple Payment card that will be issued to you. You can then collect this money from any pay points that display a simple payment sign.

Benefits for disabled individuals doesn’t just mean extra financial support, if you are disabled you can also look into getting cheaper public transport, disabled badges for the car and practical help from the local council in terms of care.

Citizens Advice Bureau is a great organisation to speak to as they will be able to help find resources that will make life easier. They have experienced advisers who will provide free and personalised advice.

Other places you can contact include the disability benefit helplines who will be able to give you more information on the benefits and whether you would be eligible for these benefits. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a helpline dedicated to the Disability Living Allowance. Whilst on the phone they will be able to help you fill out the claim forms.  There are two different phone numbers dependant on your age.

If your birthday falls on or before the 8th April 1948 phone: 0345 605 6055

If your birthday is after this date phone: 0345 712 3456

Helplines are open during the working week, 8am – 6pm.

Be sure that you are getting accurate advice on your payments as you may have to pay a civil penalty, if you have filled in the information wrong or have not provided all the information they need, and this has resulted in an over-payment. Be sure to give accurate information as best to your knowledge as providing incorrect or misleading information, as well as failing to report a change in circumstances, may lead to you being investigated for fraud. If you are unsure about any of the information on the benefit forms make sure you consult an adviser, whether that is at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or through a disability allowance helpline.