Scotland has so many beautiful places to explore that you’d never be short of places to walk while taking in the landscapes and scenery. But finding walks and trails that are wheelchair accessible involves a bit more research. So it’s always great to find new wheelchair accessible walks in Scotland like our recent discovery of Doune Ponds.
After a busy week of working, a Saturday afternoon stroll in nature was just what we needed to relax and recharge. It didn’t disappoint. We left feeling refreshed.
Doune Ponds is a local nature reserve in the Perthshire village of Doune near Stirling. Formally an old gravel and sand quarry, Doune Ponds has been transformed into a charming woodland by local volunteers.
Doune Ponds was managed by Stirling Council until the agreement ended in 2014. It then became an inaccessible and unkempt wilderness. Thankfully, the local community were interested in getting involved and took over the management.
From there, Doune Community woodland group was formed with all work being carried out by local volunteers. A donation box is positioned at the entrance/exit if visitors wish to donate.
The community group have raised more than £50k for projects and maintenance. Local events often take place at Doune Ponds and partnerships have been formed with several organisations, such as Paths for All, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels and Froglife.
Although only a short twenty-minute drive from our home, we surprisingly had never heard of Doune Ponds despite driving through the town of Doune countless times over the years. It was the perfect excuse to get out but not have to travel too far.
We were actually recommended this place by our friend Laura who has visited with her son Brody who uses a wheelchair. We also read a positive review on Euan’s Guide from a fellow power wheelchair user who found this walk both manageable and enjoyable.
Disabled Parking at Doune Ponds
Doune Ponds car park is small but practical. There was one disabled parking space which was free when we arrived. We expected the car park to be busier especially for a Saturday afternoon, so it was a pleasant surprise when we drove in and saw only four cars. There was plenty of space to exit via my wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Wheelchair accessible walk around Doune Ponds
We headed off, full of intrigue as to what we may find.
The gated entrance to Doune Ponds is next to the car park, just a short walk away. From there the first thing we noticed was how solid and well-made the paths were.
They were also well signposted giving directions for each pond as well as indicating the accessible path.
We stopped at the first pond near the entrance, which had a fairly steep slope down to the wooden platform. I was able to drive down onto the platform and get a closer look at the pond. It was lovely and peaceful.
Continuing along the accessible paths we reached the largest pond in the centre of the nature reserve. We went inside the large sheltered bird lookout overlooking the beautiful tree-lined pond.
Again it was lovely and peaceful with no one around except the ducks and their young ducklings happily swimming around. We also spotted a heron sitting on a rock before taking off into the trees.
We enjoyed sitting on the wooden deck overlooking the entire pond. Surrounded by lush green trees. The wooden deck has level access so I was able to drive on without an issue.
Most of the network of pathways are wheelchair accessible and there are benches placed around the reserve for resting and enjoying the surroundings.
Please view the photo slideshow below showing the condition of the various paths and forest trails.
At least two hand-carved wooden benches feature wildlife favourites. They may even have been carved by a chainsaw from trees. Of course, I couldn’t resist a photo with the fox.
They are fun and I think kids will love them including the fairy doors and painted rocks scattered throughout the forest pathways.
Across from the largest pond is a well-maintained meadow with picnic tables. However, I was disappointed that none were wheelchair accessible picnic tables which are more widely available nowadays and installed by parks and attractions.
Update October 2021: After taking my comments into consideration, The Doune Ponds Woodland volunteer group have modified one of the picnic tables to make it wheelchair accessible. And there are plans for more.
It’s fantastic that these changes have been made, as it honestly makes such a difference and I know other wheelchair users and their families will appreciate this too. We will be enjoying lots of family picnics at Doune Ponds now.
Many areas of Doune Ponds has been left to grow wild while others feature manmade structures created from twigs to encourage bio-diversity.
The only area of the Doune Ponds walk that we did not venture into was the North Pond. This was due to the path being narrow and very bumpy from the tree’s roots growing underneath and protruding through the ground.
However, there is more than one way to access the North Pond, but it, unfortunately, had a large puddle and looked muddy. We decided to give it a miss, but there is always another time.
During our two hour visit, we were lucky if we saw more than three people. It was just so peaceful and we had good weather for it too.
Final Thoughts on Doune Ponds
Overall Doune Ponds nature reserve is a little gem providing a peaceful yet enjoyable wheelchair accessible walk in Perthshire. It was a good length (not too long but not too short) with smooth paths that were manageable in my power wheelchair.
The viewing platforms and bird hides were wheelchair accessible with easy access into them. There was plenty of signage and informational boards about Doune Ponds and the wildlife.
Forests and nature trails can be a challenge for wheelchair users but this local woodland was great and I think even in autumn and winter it would be fine to get around if not too wet.
We enjoyed visiting and will definitely return, most likely with a picnic (weather permitting) and with our nephews.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you visited Doune Ponds? Where is your favourite wheelchair accessible walk?
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