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Yorkshire Water aiming to increase access for disabled visitors

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Around two million people visit Yorkshire Water’s 70,000 acres of land, such as reservoirs, ancient woodland, and moorland, every year. These locations have become increasingly popular since they first opened up to the public after privatisation of the water sector in 1989. However, access for disabled visitors has always been problematic, until now.

To encourage more disabled visitors, YW has teamed up with Experience Community, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) who help disabled people access the British countryside. This has already resulted in more disabled group rambles around Yorkshire Water reservoirs, such as Langsett in South Yorkshire and Swinsty in the Washburn Valley, on specially designed mountain trikes and mountain bikes.

Geoff Lomas, Recreation Manager at Yorkshire Water said, “We have 115 scenic reservoirs dotted around the region and these are all popular with dog walkers, picnic-goers, runners, anglers and cyclists, but we now want to make some of them more inviting to disabled people as a go-to destination. This may mean improving paths around reservoirs by making them flatter, wider and addressing any surface issues so wheelchair user’s accessibility needs are met. Many of our reservoirs are now recreational hotspots and we want to make them as inclusive as possible by providing information and access that is both informative and enticing to disabled people. Our partnership with Experience Community will help achieve this.”

Craig Grimes, Managing Director of Experience Community commented, “Gaining access to the countryside for disabled people has been an uphill battle, but co-operation from landowners such as Yorkshire Water really makes a difference. Through working with Yorkshire Water we’ve been able to identify various reservoirs where small changes to infrastructure such as widening a gate or better access has been provided. There are now new longer routes with varying levels of difficulty that we can use with our rambling and hand cycling groups.”

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