The Forestry Commission’s Haldon Forest Park has miles of graded walking, cycling and horseriding trails set in 3500 acres of glorious Devon woodland. Its accessibility means everyone can get a taste of the great outdoors and potentially spot birds of prey, butterflies and the rare black fallow deer that live in the forest.
The park has two circular, 1.5-mile-long “all-ability” trails suitable for wheelchairs and people with restricted mobility: the Discovery Trail is quite level, and takes in a great viewpoint, while the Mamhead Sensory Trail offers tactile interpretation boards and sensory waymarkers as well as features designed to stimulate your senses. Besides these, there are several more demanding trails, which include sloping or rougher surfaces; visitors can hire a special all-terrain powered scooter known as a Tramper, which can handle the trails with ease (if you’ve never used a Tramper before, you’ll need to call in advance to arrange a short training session). In addition, you can hire specialist bicycles including wheelchair and recumbent bikes from Forest Cycle Hire (01392 833768) or take a guided “glide” around the forest with Go-Segway! on their two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicles (07545 917416).
The main car park, from where most trails are accessed, has three disabled spaces and a fully accessible toilet. Nearby you’ll find the ranger office (where you can hire a Tramper), the café and the cycle hire. The rangers can help you devise a route through the forest that suits your level of fitness and mobility. There’s a second car park at Mamhead (see website for directions), which is where the Mamhead Sensory Trail begins; note that there are no toilets or other facilities at this site.
Food & drink: The Ridge Café, near the park’s main entrance, serves hot and cold food and drinks with level access and moveable benches inside. There’s plenty of seating outside, overlooking a large sandpit play area, and a wood burner indoors for colder days.