Pathway heroes make Wakefield woodland accessible for all

A local access improvement group, run with adults with learning disabilities, has laid 500 metres of new path in Coxley Woods near Horbury Bridge following a plea from a local resident.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 11:04 am
After 11 full work days, over 80 tonnes of hardcore totalling at least 560 barrow loads, the project is now complete. The new wider, more compacted path will offer wheelchair users, parents and carers with prams and people with mobility issues a more accessible route around the woodland.

The Nature Force group is part of Wakefield-based charity Open Country and focuses on improving green spaces across the district.

This latest project was inspired by local wheelchair user Michael Lucraft who got in touch with the group to ask whether anything could be done to improve access in the popular woodland.

Run by Open Country, the Yorkshire-based charity that enable anyone with a disability to access and enjoy the countryside, the Nature Force group work on improving green spaces all across the Wakefield district, planting trees and clearing scrub, as well as creating new wildlife habitats such as ponds and wildflower meadows and improving access by installing benches and laying new paths.

The charity started working on the public footpath that runs parallel to the beck at the bottom of Coxley Woods in July.

After 11 full work days, over 80 tonnes of hardcore totalling at least 560 barrow loads, the project is now complete. The new wider, more compacted path will offer wheelchair users, parents and carers with prams and people with mobility issues a more accessible route around the woodland.

Mr Lucraft said: “This is such a wonderful new facility which allows me to walk my dogs from my doorstep to the woods in my wheelchair.

"It is now such a lovely woodland walk for all, and truly accessible. This project deserves to be promoted as a way forward for helping all to enjoy the outdoors, the woods, nature and wildlife in a time when the focus is so much on the planet and enjoying is riches.”

Ella Dixon, Open Country’s Wild about Wakefield Project Officer, said: “We were so pleased to lead the way forward with this access project. It has been a real local success and we are hoping it will be one of many new access improvement schemes in the Wakefield district in the coming years.”

The project has been funded with support from Wakefield Council and Yorkshire Water. The hope is that this new path will allow more people to enjoy the green space throughout the year.

Open Country has bases in Harrogate and Wakefield and enables anyone with a disability to access and enjoy the countryside.

The Nature Force group focuses on tree planting and scrub clearing, as well as creating new wildlife habitats such as ponds and wildflower meadows and improving access by installing benches and laying paths.

The charity works with people with a disability or mental health problem to encourage social interaction between members and help improve their physical and mental wellbeing. As well as running a variety of outdoor activities, the charity also provides practical advice to landowners and countryside managers about how to improve access for all.