The surface of the old track bed is flat and easy to push a wheelchair through

and pretty even, good place to wheel a wheelchair in other words. Mo and I have therefore stuck the dog in the car and gone looking. We decided on the old line from Whickham, near Gateshead, to Shotley Bridge, near Consett. This begins with a good free car park available behind Whickham Rugby Club. Join the A694 near the west end of Gateshead Metro Centre signed Consett and Shotley Bridge. You will find the car park on your left and signed for Whickham Cricket Club and Derwent Walk Country Park. There are a number of disabled bays but no disabled toilets!!! Please note. From the car park follow the red marked trail until you come to a wide, flat, hard rolled earth track just past the back of the rugby club. Join it and just keep going for as far as you wish – it runs for about 14 miles – then turn round and head back. It is used by cyclists, disabled

wheelchair users, mums with kids in pushchairs, walkers and runners and is one of the best surfaces I ever found for my first wife’s wheelchair. It is also normally not too busy. Some things of note and interest you will

see: raiIway relics such as old station platforms, bridges and a spectacular viaduct; a crystal-clear river owned by a fly- fishing club; beautiful old woodland, and a few meadows. Wildlife abounds for those that are quiet enough to see it, with both otters and kingfishers aplenty. This is red kite country and you should see some of these. Just real old countryside waiting for you to explore. Please

remember, no

Keep an eye open for signs of original use, such as the remains of a station platform

disabled or any other kind of toilet facilities.

No shelter except under the trees if it rains. No cafes or pubs. With those three matters in mind, please find an old railway track footpath and enjoy.

John Killick was the secretary of the Disabled Motorists Federation for over 20 years and was also the editor of 'The Way Ahead' magazine. He continues to be a freelance writer. He was born in Norfolk and brought up in Suffolk, married a Manx girl, and now lives in north east England.

Ability Needs Magazine 33

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