From Where I Sit....

In previous blogs, I’ve mentioned my disability (Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and Scoliosis) and that I use an awesome off road wheelchair or my pretty pink crutches to get about. 

The view of the world from my chair is pretty unique and I love taking pictures to show this and the odd selfie or two – ok loads of selfies!  I’ve always been the adventurous type, pushing boundaries just because I can or more often than not, because someone has said I can’t. 

My bucket list is immense but I’m slowly chipping away at it.  I’ve done all sorts, from swinging on a tyre swing (you’d be surprised at how hard that is for me), cantering on a mustang horse through the Arizona desert (with some very nice Cowboys!), driving an articulated lorry and my current challenge, learning to sit ski (thanks to the charity DSUK).  They are all great fun but one item has always looked to be impossible, I want to drink a cup of tea at the top of a mountain!

Nothing is impossible, you just have to work harder to find a solution or so I’ve been told.  Introducing Callander based charity Trossachs Mobility!  They share my passion for getting out and enjoying the countryside and think everyone disabled or not should have that opportunity.

They’ve raised money to buy three all-terrain (Terrain Hopper) wheelchairs.  These chairs truly can take you anywhere and act like a mini land rover, optional extras even include a winch!  Honestly anyone can use these, I have limited muscle power so I tried the joystick version and while I was there a guy who was blind had a shot too.

How can a blind person drive one? Well he didn’t, the joystick can be removed and then used by a friend or guide as a remote control! I let my friend and co-founder of the charity Wayne drive me for a bit – so weird not being in control.

I can’t really explain how amazing it feels to be able to choose your own path and not be restricted to a man made one.  The machine literally was taking me over logs, down bankings and even through the river.  I did draw the line at the near vertical drop Gordon, my guide wanted to take me down!  I haven't made it to the top of a mountain with my cuppa yet, but now I have the means, watch this space.

Although based in the Trossachs national park (about 45min drive from the croft), you can hire them out further afield.  They have big plans and want to have mini rental centres in all rural tourist areas around Scotland.  Who knows maybe Comrie Croft will have some in the future?

Until then I’ve listed a few of my favourite accessible paths in the area.

The Millennium Footpath (Laggan Park, Comrie) – Part of the Glen Lednock circular walk, the mile long footpath (suitable for wheelchairs) meanders through woodlands (parts are uphill) following the river Lednock up to a small weir where you’ll find a picnic area.  All along the path there are unique seats and information boards explaining about the wildlife and plants you may see.

Macrosty Park (Crieff) – Whether you’re looking for a walk, a play park, somewhere to have picnic or to just sit and ponder life, Macrosty park is perfect.  Plenty accessible parking with nice smooth paths (some a little steep but no more than 1:20) meandering through the park, leading to a large kids play park at the top with a little café (seasonal).  If you want to walk/wheel a bit further Lady Mary’s walk starts from the park car park too – lovely accessible woodland walk 3.5miles long. I found this great accessibility guide for the park, I am impressed (that doesn’t happen very often!).

Comrie – St Fillans Walk – 6 miles round trip approx.  This path follows the old railway line but is only partially completed.  The first half (if starting at Comrie side) is still quite bumpy, my chair copes fine, but anything with little front wheels might struggle.  Once you get through the cow field (yes sometimes cows are there) the path is then tarmac all the way into St Fillans.  A little steep from the St Fillans side, but that keeps it exciting.  If you’re pushing a buggy or wheelchair you might want to have your porridge that morning!  Lovely views along the way, look out for the crocodile!

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