Our research has highlighted that some people don’t visit woods because of concerns about access e.g. is there adequate parking or a bus stop nearby? Will I be able to get my pushchair through the gate and will the path be suitable for my elderly mum?
Not knowing what to expect when you get to a wood is particularly difficult for people with disabilities where stiles, gates, toilets and other facilities might be unsuitable for wheelchair or scooter users. That’s why VisitWoods is working with volunteers and partner organisations such as DisabledGo and Fieldfare Trust, to provide online access guides that give visitors the information they need to decide for themselves if a wood is suitable to visit or not.
Access guides on visitwoods.org.uk come in two different formats.
DisabledGo's team of surveyors have produced guides on a small number of woods across the UK, which provide up to 800 separate pieces of information about the wood. The guides describe the journey into and throughout a particular wood. A trained DisabledGo surveyor gathers every piece of information in person, collecting data on a hand held computer, taking relevant measurements and photographs and talking to a representative of the site face to face. This ensures independent, reliable information from which you can decide whether you wish to visit a particular wood.
So far 21 guides have been produced for woods across the UK. Here are some of our favourites which have access for wheelchairs and pushchairs:
In an area renowned for its ancient woodland, Penn Wood, at the very heart of Buckinghamshire, stands out as one of the largest. The wood is rich in wildlife and flora, including at least 10 plants not commonly found in the county as well as having a good bird population and a number of nationally scarce invertebrates.
Some of its older inhabitants include the remains of an ancient beech tree and a veteran oak, along with a scattering of trees dating back more than 200 years. Archaeological features dot the site, among them wood banks, and flint and clay pits.
A community group, who successfully fought off attempts to develop a golf course on the site remain as helpful guardians today. Penn Wood is well served with a network of paths, many of which allow wheelchair and pushchair access.
View the DisabledGo access guide for Penn Wood
Miltonrigg - Cumbria
Just a few miles south of historic Hadrian's Wall is a landmark of nature's making – Miltonrigg Wood. Miltonrigg is an outstanding feature of the Cumbrian landscape which you can explore at leisure by following the network of paths through the peaceful ancient woodland.
The wood has good access for all abilities and includes a surfaced route, which is suitable for wheelchair users and visitors with buggies.
The wood is dominated by wonderful beech and oak trees, many over 100 years old. Oak timber harvested from this site is reputed to have been used for the rebuilding of sections of York Minster roof.
Miltonrigg is alive with birds including kestrel, sparrowhawk, tawny owl, great spotted woodpecker, redstart and coal tit among the more common woodland birds. A pond at the heart of the wood provides a habitat for dragonflies, toads and newts. Visitors may even be lucky enough to spot the occasional roe deer.
View the DisabledGo access guide for Miltonrigg
Martinshaw Wood - Leicestershire
Martinshaw Wood is five miles north-west of Leicester, situated between the villages of Groby and Ratby. The complex of woods includes Martinshaw, Pear Tree and Burroughs Woods and is the largest continuous area of woodland in the National Forest. Historical research suggests that Martinshaw has been a productive managed wood for over 700 years.
This wood has been described as 'a natural adventure playground' thanks to its stands of conifers, fallen logs and areas of younger woodland which are perfect for playing games of hide and seek in and running around. For those who prefer more gentle fun, there is plenty of wildlife to see.
View the DisabledGo access guide for Martinshaw
Plas Power Wood - Wrexham
Plas Power is one of the Woodland Trust's most popular woods and it is easy to see why. Set in a stunning location along the banks of a river, you can easily spend a whole day exploring this beautiful wood and still want to go back for more. Although there are only two short sections of public footpath, there is extensive pedestrian permissive access throughout the site. The nine mile long Clywedog trail links features of industrial, archaeological, and historical interest and is promoted by the local authority.
Parking and picnic facilities are available at the adjacent Nant Mill Visitor Centre which has developed a number of local self-guided walks, one of which is based on Plas Power Wood. Horse-riding and cycling are permitted along one path to the south of the river.
View the DisabledGo access guide for Plas Power
Fieldfare works with people with disabilities and countryside managers to improve access to the countryside for everyone. They have created a series of innovative phototrails which allows users to view countryside routes (in woods and other outdoor environments) through a series of photographs and descriptions - noting details such as path surface, path width, gradients, barriers and amenities such as seats, disabled parking, and accessible toilets - all of which may be important information for some people to know before making the decision whether to visit a wood or not.
So far 28 woods in Scotland and 5 in England have links to phototrails. And over time we hope to work with Fieldfare to produce more.
You can search for woods with access guides by selecting the ‘Access Guide Available’ box (under the search button on the home page).
One of our main aims is to enable families and people with disabilities to access woods for pleasure. The wheelchair access symbol used on this website indicates a wood which visitors or landowners have identified as accessible.
As we do not verify all symbols added by the general public we recommend that you enquire with the landowner for detailed access information.
To improve our information on accessibility, please share your experiences in the visitor comments section.
The more information we have on a wood, the easier it becomes to decide if a visit is suitable for you.
Download this guide to finding the right wood to suit your needs
Find a guided walk in your area