Tuesday, August 7

A Trip to Blanchland

Its wheelchair accessible....
no its not
yes it is...
no its not
yes it is.....................

and so it was I went on a wheelchair accessible trip to Blanchland. Only of course, it wasn't. By now Ive become very used to the fact that when I ask this question and get this answer, it will never ever be wheelchair accessible, because these paths just aren't.
Blanchland is an ever so picturesque village in the North Pennines that squeaks into Northumberland, and as part of the Local Joint Access Forum away afternoon we were checking it out. I asked the question over and over before the visit, because you know I just didn't believe it would be accessible, and oh dear, ha ha, was I proved right?!

If I didnt have a sense of humour Id just end up crying into my tea, so I suppose its a good job I can laugh. I'm not sure if this is the laughter of irony, hysteria or just bitter despair. As soon as we reached the car park I knew. You can judge a place on its access by the car parks Ive discovered, and the very fact that it had 3 foot wide pot holes which I gingerly squeezed around, didn't bode well.

The path in question then, was about a mile long and 2 foot wide. It was made up of gravel ( Ooo my favourite) and compacted earth. I can hear your hollow laughter already. The ground up and down hill, Oh yes truly accessible. But you know what, I made it to the end. True I was grunting at every push with the ferocity of Venus Williams about to loose match point, my arms felt like the were going to be ripped from my shoulders any minute and my hands sore and chapped, but I made it to the end and yes I was speechless. So we turned round and went back the way we'd just come. At this point I had to admit defeat. The camber was all left handed, my arms felt like jelly and it was more uphill. With the best grunts in the world I just couldn't manage it. But my knight in shining armour appeared in the form of Richard, a really lovely ex army officer who gallantly jumped to my rescue and pushed me back to the car, all the time jollying me along like one of his 'chaps'. The point being made albeit in a rather forceful manner this wasn't accessible. But hey its not everyday you get to be pushed by ex army types, thanks Richard you are a star!

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