Access the Dales was created as a blog site in 2011 when our founder Debbie North found that, due to ill health, she was no longer able to walk in the hills of her beloved Yorkshire Dales. She began to write about her wheelchair chair adventures with her late husband Andy and the obstacles they faced in getting outdoors in a wheelchair. Together they shared a passionate for the hiking and fell walking and now that Debs was in a wheelchair, they decided that they wanted to create a countryside for all. It is on one of their very first accessible walks to Gordale Scar in the Yorkshire Dales that the pair of them met Jonathan Smith who was just starting up his own business ’Where2Walk‘– leading guided walks and navigation training in the Dales. The three of them, together with Mist, Jonathan’s collie dog, began creating new and exciting stile free routes in the Yorkshire Dales.
In 2012 Debbie and Andy teamed up with TerrainHopper, a Lincolnshire company who made 4 x 4 all terrain wheelchairs. Now it was possible reach higher and complete more challenging routes. Debs was truly back out into the hills.
The team of three have continued to forge ahead with their project to create a countryside for all and they have stayed true to their passion of making the inaccessible accessible. In 2014 they raised the money to buy an all-terrain wheelchair for the National Trust which is housed up at Malham Tarn for people to use. People with poor or no mobility can now access a stunningly beautiful walk around the tarn with their friends and family.
Jonathan, Andy and Debs have had many adventures together, including the Coast to Coast in 2015.
On June 29th 2021, Andy passed away following a short and cruel battle against cancer. His wish was for Debs to raise the money to buy an all-terrain wheelchair for children to be able to access the countryside. Over £16k was raised and the first chair was bought – a TerrainHopper Mini. TerrainHopper company have kindly donated a second TerrainHopper.
In July 2021 Debs got a team of people together to gain charity status for Access the Dales. The five trustees all bring a specialist quality to the charity. Amy-Rose Medlock is a deaf musician and specializes in BSL and making the world inclusive for people with hearing impairment. Melanie Cox Globe is a very successful head teacher of a large primary school. She is keen to get children of all abilities outdoors and has introduced Forest school into her school. Jonathan Smith is a Mountain Leader and has a love of the outdoors, Holly Brega is an outdoor videographer and has a very creative flair.
This dynamic team are 100% committed to creating a countryside for all in the Yorkshire Dales. Their motto: Making the Inaccessible Accessible.