If you're not able to venture far from your car, these are the places for you – ranging from wheelchair accessible locations to sites with level surfaces which should be easy to explore with limited mobility. (We'll be adding more of these soon).
Not everywhere in the Blackdown Hills AONB is hilly! Dunkeswell Airfield is on very flat terrain with plenty of even, tarmacked surfaces. There are plenty of parking spaces (60 or more). This makes it a very accessible option for wheelchair users and those who have limited mobility.
Here you can pay a visit to the Dunkeswell Airfield Heritage Centre to discover the history of this second world war RAF base and watch the aeroplanes and parachutists using the airfield. If you’re in need of refreshments the Aviator Coffee Bar & Restaurant provides great views of the airfield.
The Otterhead Local Nature Reserve is set around two lakes of the former landscaped gardens of Otterhead House (1817-1952). The estate was developed in Victorian times and by 1890 included over 1700 acres of land.
A range of semi-natural habitats make up the reserve including wet woodland, dry deciduous woodland, grassland, and freshwater streams and ditches.
Dormice, badgers and bat species occur in the woodland. The lakes support bird species including kingfisher, dipper and wagtail
Nesting birds are present, so please keep your dog on a lead at all times.
The entrance to the carpark is just around the corner from Otterhead Church.
There is a circular route around the Reserve which is mostly flat, although there is a gradual slope from the car park down to the lakes and a steep section of a few metres half-way round. Bear in mind that some of the pathways are a little bumpy and, at times, can get quite muddy.
Be aware that some of the permissive paths on the Otterhead Estate have become overgrown during lockdown so please watch out for brambles and other plants that can be a scratch and trip hazard.
Please also be mindful of the wildlife living around the lakes. The adder, the UK’s only venomous snake, lives here. Adders will only bite people or dogs in self defence or if startled, but tread carefully nevertheless. The site is also home to birds that nest on the ground so please avoid disturbing them and keep your dog on a lead.
Staple Hill Easy Access Trail
This is the highest point in the Blackdown Hills and from here you can see spectacular views across the Vale of Taunton. On a clear day you can see all the way to Wales!
Staple Hill is part of Forestry England’s woodlands and one of the points on the Staple Fitzpaine Herepath.
The Easy Access Trail is a loop walk of 800m, starting from the car parking area and taking in two viewpoints. The trail has been designed and built to national ‘all ability’ access standards and is suitable for disabled access, so it is easy for everyone to use.
The viewpoints have picnic benches and seating and the kissing gates are big enough for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There are also no steep gradients and the wide compacted path surface makes pushing wheelchairs and pushchairs easy.
Wellington Monument approach
If you’re looking for somewhere to walk which isn’t too strenuous, a safe bet is the approach to Wellington Monument. There is plenty of parking (around 30 spaces) close to the start of the walk.
The tree-lined walk from the carpark to Wellington Monument is along a level gravel pathway. There the occasional bump or dip in the path but no steps, styles or steep gradients.
The complete walk is approximately three-quarters of a mile each way, approximately 15 minutes each way. At the end, you’re rewarded with a view of this impressive monument to the Duke of Wellington. Wellington Monument is the world’s tallest three-sided obelisk, standing at 175 feet.
The information boards are easy to read and include details of the Monument’s history and a map showing nearby walks.
On fine days there is ample space around the monument to enjoy a picnic or fly a kite. The walk is particularly beautiful in the autumn, when the leaves turn all shades of brown, red and gold. Very windy days are best avoided as it can get quite blustery up by the Monument. In the winter, be aware that the path can get rather muddy.