Wheelchair-friendly tree trail officially opens in Sidmouth

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:03 20 August 2019

Jon Ball,Frances Deegan and Ed Dolphin at the launch of the Accessible Tree Trail. Ref shs 34 19TI 8606. Picture: Terry Ife

Jon Ball,Frances Deegan and Ed Dolphin at the launch of the Accessible Tree Trail. Ref shs 34 19TI 8606. Picture: Terry Ife

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A new wheelchair and buggy-friendly nature trail which takes in Sidmouth’s trees has officially opened.

Jon Ball,Frances Deegan and Ed Dolphin at the launch of the Accessible Tree Trail. Ref shs 34 19TI 8617. Picture: Terry IfeJon Ball,Frances Deegan and Ed Dolphin at the launch of the Accessible Tree Trail. Ref shs 34 19TI 8617. Picture: Terry Ife

Wheelchair and buggy users can now adventure down an exciting new nature trail which features some of Sidmouth's finest trees.

Nature lovers will be able to follow guides or use a mobile app that takes them to visit some of the valley's oldest residents, some of which have been around since the 19th century.

The route, which features everything from oak, yew, cedar, elm, Monterey pine and monkey puzzle trees, starts at the museum and continues through the churchyard and Blackmore Gardens, Haydon's Lane, Coburg Road to the Three-Cornered Plot.

Sidmouth Arboretum has added the easily assessable town centre trail to its range of guided tree walks.

Jon Ball,Frances Deegan and Ed Dolphin at the launch of the Accessible Tree Trail. Ref shs 34 19TI 8611. Picture: Terry IfeJon Ball,Frances Deegan and Ed Dolphin at the launch of the Accessible Tree Trail. Ref shs 34 19TI 8611. Picture: Terry Ife

The group has three tree trails already, through the Byes, Knowle, Salcombe Regis and around Sidbury.

It was asked by Sidmouth Science Festival if it would create the new route for wheelchair, mobility scooter and buggy users.

The group officially opened the trail on Monday (August 19), thanks to the help of associate member Frances Deegan, who is a wheelchair user.

Mrs Deegan, who was the first to test out the trail that features 25 types of trees, said: "It's wonderful to have something sorted out for disabled people and people with mobility problems because mainly, there are wonderful walks and places we that can't get to, in Sidmouth and in Devon."

A family using the Accessible Tree Trail in Sidmouth. Ref shs 34 19TI 8602. Picture: Terry IfeA family using the Accessible Tree Trail in Sidmouth. Ref shs 34 19TI 8602. Picture: Terry Ife

The trail leaflet, which was produced by Thorntree Design, has information about many of the trees and smartphone links to more information.

Ed Dolphin, arboretum treasurer, said: "This started because, last summer, we were approached at the science festival and asked if we had a trail that was wheelchair accessible.

"Of the three existing trails, only the first half of the Byes trail would do and so the group determined to set up a fully accessible trail.

"As treasurer, I am delighted that Sidmouth Town Council provided a generous grant to finance most of the project."

Trail leaflets are available free of charge from the Ham Information Centre and various town venues and can be viewed on the Arboretum's website.

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