Disabled access improved at Harrogate beauty spot

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News of improved access at one of Harrogate’s most popular woodland spots has been hailed as an important step by a leading disability charity in the district that urges people to always ‘think access.’

Hookstone Woods now has more than 200 metres of accessible path thanks to a project carried out by Open Country’s conservation groups - a project that has been praised by Disability Action Yorkshire.

The members, who all have a disability or mental health problem, have spent more than four days creating a fully accessible path to open up the woodlands to wheelchair users or those with mobility issues.

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The path starts at the car park near the Harrogate Sports and Fitness Centre, and joins Hookstone Wood Road where it meets Hookstone Road.

The team from Open Country working hard on the new path at Hookstone Woods.The team from Open Country working hard on the new path at Hookstone Woods.
The team from Open Country working hard on the new path at Hookstone Woods.

It has been completed thanks to funding from Harrogate Borough Council and county councillor John Ennis via his locality budget. Disability Action Yorkshire’s chief executive

Jackie Snape, said: “We are really pleased to learn about the outstanding work that Open Country are doing on improving accessibility in Hookstone Woods.

“It seems so strange that in an age where it seems anything is possible, there are still areas of our District that are just inaccessible to disabled people. We need everyone to start to think access, and this is a great example of what can be achieved.”

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The project follows on from the work of the Hookstone and Stonefall Action Group, which carried out pathway improvement work in 2018 to help protect the vegetation at the edges of the paths as they became boggier and less accessible.

Open Country’s countryside activities officer, Chris Hunter, said: “The work our groups have conducted in 2019 will allow visitors to enjoy a stroll around Hookstone Woods, regardless of ability or disability.”

Harrogate Borough Council’s countryside ranger, Sam Walker, said: “This has been a particularly tough job which the Open Country members have tackled head on and with a smile on their faces. But this is just phase one, and we hope to work with Open Country again this year once funding is secured, to open up even more of the woods to people with a disability.”