I’ve always loved exploring the outdoors. Even as a young girl I would often go hill-walking with my family and loved running about playing outside with friends. As my condition progressed I eventually had to stop doing these things not because I didn’t enjoy them anymore, but because I could no longer physically do them. Gradually having to rely on my wheelchair more and more.
Now unable to walk I need my wheelchair from the moment I get out of bed in the morning to the moment I go to bed at night. Hill-walking, exploring the rough countryside and off the beaten tracks are no longer practical for me and my power wheelchair. We tend to stick to accessible walks that are mostly flat and mud-free. Muddy wheels are the worst as it’s not like I can take them off like a pair of muddy shoes before entering my home.
So it was really exciting when a friend sent me a BBC news article about Trossachs Mobility and how they were opening up the countryside to everyone with their fantastic all-terrain wheelchairs. As soon as I saw this I knew I had to give it a go. It looked like so much fun.
After speaking with Gordon, one of the founders of Trossachs Mobility, we arranged a date for me to have a go on one of the all-terrain wheelchairs. We headed through to Callander which is only 30 minutes from home and met the lovely guys at the Trossachs Mobility shop. I was soon getting set up in the camouflaged terrain hopper and as you can see from my face I was pretty excited…and nervous.
The side bar lifted up so it was easy for Allan to transfer me into the seat. Due to my poor upper body strength and lack of trunk control, I opted for the four point harness to keep my secure and in place, for all the uneven ground and hills we would be covering.
Before we could explore the uneven ground and hills, I first had to make my way out the shop and along the tight streets of Callander with Gordon leading the way in his own terrain hopper. It was a little tricky for me to get the hang of steering the terrain hopper at first, but Gordon was very patient and offered guidance on the best way to manage it.
I eventually made it to the top of my first grassy hill overlooking the loch. And in true Scottish fashion, the rain started, but Gordon came prepared and gave me a rain poncho to put on. My nephew enjoyed the view and was convinced he saw a dolphin in the water, which turned out to be a salmon. What can I say he has the best imagination.
Adventure, Access, Inclusion
It was now time to explore more of Callander and really put the terrain hopper to the test. This time Gavin came along to help me as I was struggling a little with the joystick due to my weak arm strength. What’s great about this all-terrain wheelchair is that the controller can come off and be controlled by someone walking beside you. However, they are planning on replacing the joystick on this terrain hopper with one that is more touch sensitive so I’m looking forward to trying that out. If you prefer there is an option to have a terrain hopper with a handlebar instead of the joystick. As I had the one with the joystick, Gordon had one with the handlebar.
The rain stopped and we were able to enjoy exploring the meadows, which involved a mix of tarmac paths, grassy trails along the water edge, rough ground, as well as some more hills and steps. Yes, you read that right! I even went up and down steps in the all-terrain wheelchair. How cool is that? Stay tuned for a video capturing all the action at the end of this post!
We spent hours wandering around and it was great to be able to do that in the mighty all-terrain wheelchair. My nephew loved hopping on the back for the ride too. So much fun for everyone. Afterwards, we stopped for a drink at Applejacks with Gordon and Gavin, which was a nice end to a great day.
You can watch my experience trying the all-terrain wheelchair here.
Freedom to Explore
‘Social inclusion is our aim, happiness is our goal’ is the motto of Trossachs Mobility and that’s certainly what they achieve. Giving those with limited mobility the opportunity and freedom to access the countryside.
If you fancy trying one of the all-terrain wheelchairs all you have to do is contact them to book your slot. Although there is no charge, it is advisable to leave a £10 donation, which I felt was more than worth it.
Would you like to try the all-terrain wheelchair?
Where would you like to explore if you could go anywhere in the all-terrain wheelchair?