Haldon Forest Park has unveiled a number of new features, developed in partnership with Age UK Devon, to improve access to the beautiful woodland for older visitors. Thanks to a grant of £163,000 from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, a number of initiatives have been introduced to ensure that people in later life can access and enjoy the huge benefits of spending time in the forest. The raft of new developments includes:
• Two sheltered viewing platforms with play features have been constructed on the all-ability Discovery Trail to offer convenient resting points with views across the forest, over the Teign Valley and towards Dartmoor. This trail has also been modified to offer a new accessible loop has been created for visitors wanting a shorter route;
• A nature hide with seating and information boards brings visitors closer to the beautiful wildlife that lives in Haldon Forest including majestic birds of prey, adders, lizards and frogs, and ground-nesting nightjar, which can be heard calling at dawn and dusk during the summer;
• A new orienteering course developed in partnership with Devon Orienteering Club, with graded routes to suit all abilities, including complete beginner. Growing rapidly in popularity, orienteering provides a physical and mental adventure as teams and individuals use map and compass to navigate to a sequence of markers around the forest;
• Two additional off-road mobility scooters now available to hire via the Countryside Mobility Scheme. ‘Trampers’ can access three of Haldon’s four walking trails, as well as the extensive network of forest roads. For visitors who prefer pedal power, six electric bikes will soon be available to hire – with a generous 40% discount to visitors over 55 – to take some of the uphill struggle out of Haldon’s beautiful mountain bike trails.
Haldon Forest Park manager, Toby Bowen-Scott, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Age UK Devon, who share our commitment to connecting people to the great outdoors. The changes we have been able to make, thanks to this funding, are helping us to ensure that visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being active in the forest, whether they’re breathing in the fresh air, learning about our special wildlife, or building their fitness and co-ordination on a trail.”
Sophie Littlewood, Age UK Devon chief executive, said: “We passionately believe that exercise is for anyone, at any age. That’s why we established our ‘Active in Later Life’ programme, to support older people to boost their activity levels. Our work with Haldon Forest and Forestry England is a great example of how we can work in partnership with other organisations to benefit communities and the forest is a wonderful environment to maintain and develop both health and wellbeing.”
For more information about Haldon Forest Park, visit forestryengland.uk/haldon-forest-park. For more information about Age UK Devon, visit ageuk.org.uk/devon.
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