Accessible Chilterns

The Chilterns is renowned for its stunning countryside, picturesque villages and diverse wildlife. Accessibility is a key focus to ensure that everyone can enjoy its natural treasures.

 

Accessibility is really important to us and we believe that everyone should be able to have access to and benefit from the wonders of the Chilterns countryside. We’ve been working hard with countryside managers, community groups, nature reserves, landowners and local businesses to support access improvements across the region, and to promote accessible experiences.

 

Countryside access for all

The Chilterns can provide a range of accessible experiences catering for different needs, see below for some ideas.

Burnham Beeches Sensory Trail takes visitors on a sensory stroll which incorporates five tactile and acoustic sculptures which you can touch, listen and sit on. Or head to Lindengate near Wendover, a unique 6 acre secret garden with a Nature Reserve, Ponds, Heritage Orchard, Kitchen Garden and Sensory Garden with sculptures and heritage-based art hidden across the site.

There is a wheelchair accessible bird hide at College Lake Visitor Centre a Wildlife Trust nature reserve near Tring, and one of the best places in the region for water birds, with many hides overlooking the lake. Or for other quiet nature-watching locations try the tucked-away Warburg Nature Reserve or one of the smaller Wildlife Trust sites.

There are special attractions combining both heritage interest and countryside providing access to extensive gardens and the wider Chilterns landscape – National Trust sites including Greys Court, Hughenden Manor and Nuffield Place. They have accessible trails around the grounds and some have mobility vehicles you can hire. The Chiltern Open Air Museum has an accessible trail allowing you to see many of the reconstructed historic buildings at this fascinating site with extensive grounds. The Museum also offers Sensory Backpacks and there is an Accompanied Walks programme. Take a look at our Visiting the Chilterns pages for further information to help you plan your trip.

You can borrow Trampers (all-terrain mobility scooters) at a number of countryside sites which enable you to explore more widely, including unsurfaced paths and rough terrain. Sites include the Boxmoor Trust near Hemel Hempstead, Wildlife Trust sites including the Warburg Nature Reserve near Henley and most National Trust sites. Not sure what to expect using Tramper? Watch this video..

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Accessible walks, rides & countryside sites

There are lots of fabulous places to visit in the Chilterns that offer  easy access and trails, particularly for wheelchair and pushchair users. Visit our Access for All page for ideas for easy visits and explorations.

Walking and outdoor activities for those with disabilities or learning support needs

There are lots of groups around the Chilterns that offer regular walks, events and opportunities for people with disabilities or special needs to get involved with outdoor activities. Here are just a few examples of some of them:

  • Reading Association for the Blind offer a regular programme of walks for the visually impaired.
  • The Disabled Ramblers organise a national programme of rambles for people who use mobility scooters.
  • Horse riding: the Rossway Group near Amersham, part of Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) provides opportunities for people with all forms of disabilities – physical and cognitive – through riding therapy. Check the RDA sites for other locations.
  • Boating on the River Thames – a great way to enjoy being by the water, spotting lots of wildlife and enjoying views of the rolling Chiltern Hills. The Rivertime Boat Trust offers the opportunity for disabled and disadvantaged adults, children and young people to enjoy the River Thames by providing a safe, supportive and stimulating environment aboard their fully accessible boat. Adaptive Rowing is offered by Marlow Rowing Club for both recreational rowers and more serious.
  • Chiltern Rangers offers inclusive conservation volunteering opportunities for children with additional needs
  • Road Farm Countryways offers farm visits and welcomes people with physical and mental challenges including those with learning disabilities. They can take part in a wide range of activities around the farm.
  • Path Hill Outdoors near Reading specialises in using the outdoor environment to provide positive experiences and personal growth for young people and adults.  The outdoor environment is particularly beneficial to children on the Autistic Spectrum, those who are living with trauma and those with Anxiety Disorders. They are located in a beautiful woodland setting and offer a wide range of activities.

Nature for health and wellbeing

Being outdoors is vital for our health and wellbeing, and the Chilterns countryside offers a natural tonic for the soul. In the Chilterns AONB, you can get active outdoors in so many ways and on so many levels: from gentle health walks and mindfulness relaxation, to more challenging climbs and adventurous activities.

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Improving Access for All in the Chilterns

We believe that the Chilterns should be accessible, welcoming, and accommodating for all individuals, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds. Some of the ways we’re working with partners to do this include:

  1.  Accessible Infrastructure – Improving the physical infrastructure of rural areas. This includes creating accessible paths, trails, and public facilities with ramps, smooth surfaces, and adequate signage for individuals with mobility challenges.
  2. Transportation – Encouraging transport options which accommodate people with disabilities. Goring-on-Thames is a fully accessible railway station providing an accessible gateway to the Thames Path, the Ridgeway National Trail and wider Chilterns countryside, see Accessible Goring.
  3. Information and Communication – Providing information about accessible visiting (Chilterns countryside and wider attractions). Ensuring information is available in various formats to cater to diverse needs.
  4. Community Engagement – Encouraging community engagement and participation by hosting inclusive events, workshops, and activities that cater to a broad range of interests and abilities.
  5. Education and Awareness – Promote awareness of accessibility and inclusion in the Chilterns, working with communities and local businesses.

We are committed to improving access in the Chilterns AONB. For more information on the work we are doing, take a look at our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Ambition Statement.

Defra Access for All Funding

In 2019, the Landscapes Review, led by Julian Glover, called on the government to ensure our national landscapes could be enjoyed by a much more diverse audience. In response, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) allocated £14.5 million towards making protected landscapes, National Trails, forests and the wider countryside more accessible for people of all ages, abilities and needs. As part of this, the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) will receive additional funding of £261,480 from Defra in 2024/25, for capital spend to make our protected landscapes more accessible to people of all ages and abilities and from all backgrounds.

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Browse our accessible walks and rides

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Follow the Countryside Code

Help us to protect the Chilterns AONB when you’re out and about by following the Countryside Code and the rules for the site you are visiting. Please respect others around you and those who care for and work in this special landscape.
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Visit the Chilterns

Quintessential English countryside, an impressive selection of pubs and restaurants, and historic market towns, the Chilterns AONB has it all.