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She Rides And Reviews: Arlington Reservoir Adventure

Hello readers!! Welcome to the next edition of She Rides And Reviews! Today’s blog will be all about Arlington reservoir! An Enthralling adventure of intrepid discovery and the near constant worry that I may get stuck on a broken scooter a long distance away from the car! Spoiler alert! I made it back in one piece with no broken scooter. Hurray!!

So, let’s begin with the description of the path on the online leaflet. According to Southeast Water the Arlington reservoir path is “level, circular trail around the reservoir is approximately three kilometres long and takes around an hour to complete, walking at a leisurely pace.”. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Although the leaflet itself does not say that it is wheelchair accessible, I thought by that description that it could well be, and so my partner and I went forth to investigate!

As you arrive at the reservoir, there is a good-sized smooth car park with disabled toilet and a kiosk where you can buy coffee and bits to eat. Good start!! There was no information on any pages about free parking with a blue badge, but we asked one of the people that worked there, and they said it would be fine to just display the badge and not pay. Best to check that again if you decide to go yourself.

Once you pass the gate of the car park you are straight on the reservoir, and it is immediately stunning. A nice picnic areas and some benches, a really lovely place to just pop to have a nice quiet afternoon outside. I’d recommend it even just for this patch.

The rest is now very much a question of how much your mobility aid can cope with, in terms of stones and slopes. It’s doable, but it is definitely not what I would define as “a level trail.” Hopefully with my photos, videos, and description you will be able to make up your mind about if you feel ok to attempt it all.

Image above: Close up of first section of path that I describe in the next paragraph.

The first portion of the trail is very level and takes you to the edge of the woodland area. The path itself is level and fairly smooth but does have a stony surface so will jiggle you about a bit if you don’t have a lot of suspension. The bushes are unfortunately too high to see over when you are in a scooter or chair, which is a bit annoying as you kind of feel like you’re missing out on the best bit. It is a nature reserve though so, the bushes are important habitat for the birds there, especially at this time of year. As I am not an expert in all things ornithology, I can’t come up with a suggestion that would work for both bird and disabled users, answers on a postcard if you can though!

.The next stage in the trail is the woodland patch bit (not official name of the area). Now this is when the term “level” becomes significantly more loosely interpreted. As you enter the woodland section, there is a bit of a gauntlet to cross at the entrance. I should imagine it would be impassable had we had more than a couple of mm of rain in the last week.

But with you all in mind I bravely picked my way across the sharp stones and deep holes, praying fervently that my tyres could take the strain! And they did!!

Once over that hairy bit it was mostly plain sailing through the lovely woodland, stopping to look at the great views and just taking in the dappled shade on a baking hot day.

Unfortunately, the relaxation and fun met a bump in the road (literally) when it came to disembarking this portion of the trail. At the end of the woodland patch is a very steep section which is extremely rutted and stony.

By this point I was feeling like an intrepid explorer and was enjoying the challenge of finding my way past these points. I think because the rest of the path is fine, it was becoming fun rather than scary.

Once again, I picked my way to safety and let myself through the radar key gate. This is something I have only recently discovered. That radar keys work on kissing gates!! Amazing news!! How did I not know this before!? You simply unlock the padlock and swing the sucker all the way open! I am embarrassed to say that I have spent many minutes of my life trying to shoehorn my scooter through kissing gates.

Image above: Close up of a possible difficult spot come out of the kissing gate.

The next section of the trail is a smooth tarmacked path that brings you right up to the waters edge. We spotted some ducklings which was of course the highlight of my day!

This lovely smooth path gives you some time to reboot after the previous adventures and just take in your surroundings. Lovely views, cows and even an ancient landmark to be spotted!

It is really beautiful and peaceful there, Arlington feels like a place you go to calm your mind and breathe for a bit.

By this point I’m feeling invincible! We’ve been out for a good 45 minutes and there is still no end in site of the trail. As my regular readers will know, one of my major bugbears is that so many “accessible trails” are so short! So being able to go on an actual adventure was exciting!

Emboldened as I was, I took on what really could not be called a level path. There is nothing about this path that was level, unless they were referring to the narrow ridge that I managed to drive my scooter on, perilously close to a 20 to 30 cm drop that could have easily tipped me off of my thrown.

Channelling my inner Michael Schumacher and praising the many hours of Mario Kart I trained on as a teenager, I tackled this stretch of path with a manic glee about me. Luckily, the overgrown vegetation was not the stinggy or thorny kind and just added to the sensory party that I was currently engaging in!

The party came to an end, and I was confronted with what I will call… THE BRIDGE.

Now there is nothing that will strike fear in an extremely heavy disabled woman on an equally heavy scooter, than a rickety wooden bridge. At this point we were at least 4/5th of the way around and I felt turning back would be a travesty.

So, I navigated the small step down and position my scooter so that I could get a clear run over THE BRIDGE. I squeezed my throttle to full and like Evel Knievel zoomed across THE BRIDGE! I made it in one piece over the other side of the terrifying 1m long bridge. As I look back now, I must concede that I may have over egged the danger levels of that particular stunt, but hey, that’s anxiety for you!

The rest of the path was pretty standard and much like the first bit of the trail, smoothish and level.

I have to say that I had a lot of fun at Arlington Reservoir. But I would query the term “level” when used to describe the trail. The parts that I would call accessible for all are pretty small but still worth a visit, and if you are feeling bold then you can take on the rest of the path.

As always here is a video of the entire journey.

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