Accessible travel expert Carrie-Ann Lightley from Tourism for All tells us about her recent experience abseiling with the Calvert Trust and BBC in the beautiful, but usually inaccessible Lake District.
I’m wearing head-to-toe waterproofs, walking boots, and a safety helmet. I’m strapped into a harness, which is attached to an abseil rope, and I know that behind me is the most stunning view of Bassenthwaite Lake. So far, this doesn’t sound like an unusual Tuesday morning for someone who lives in the Lake District, until you learn that I’m sat in my wheelchair, which is also strapped into a harness, and hanging at a 45-degree angle off a concrete slab.
Earlier this year a BBC researcher contacted me to ask for an interview; a piece to show how wonderful accessible travel and adventure can be. I’ll be able to tell you more about the programme soon, but for now, here’s what happened that exciting day…
The abseiling itself was made possible by the Lake District Calvert Trust. It offers wonderful experiences for disabled people who want to enjoy the countryside and test their limits. I arrived feeling anxious, as someone who many people would describe as not at all adventurous, but the lovely team soon put me at ease.
After we’d completed safety forms and fitted my harness, my instructor Matt pushed me in my wheelchair up to the abseil platform. Now was the time!
As my chair was lowered on to the ramp, I slowly fed the ropes through my hands and started to relax and enjoy it. So much so that, once I reached the bottom, I went straight back up for another go… which was as much of a surprise to me as it will be to anyone who knows me reading this.
Afterwards, I was assisted out of my kit, and given a hot drink to warm up. Once I’d come back down to earth (quite literally) I was given a guided tour of the Calvert Trust centre.