Fingle Bridge is gorgeous which isn’t very surprising, it’s in a gorge, deep in woodland on the north side of Dartmoor. The bridge is old, narrow and beautiful, crossing the River Teign in surroundings designed for chocolate box manufacturers.
The Fingle Bridge Inn has a garden running down to the river, the river is crystal clear and rocky, a delight to birdwatchers, fisherman and anyone with a soul. Across the bridge a track runs near the river, upstream to the Deerpark, downstream to Steps Bridge.
The tracks along the river are rocky where they aren’t muddy, rutted by logging work and crosscut by rivulets carrying the Devon rain down the steep wooded slopes. It is a beautiful site and a source of local revenue from timber operations, fishing and tourism. It just isn’t wheelchair friendly.
I explored it last week from a wheelchair, and it is beautiful and accessible if your wheelchair is on an iBex pulled by a pony.
There are millions of places that we just take for granted if we can walk, but which are an impossible dream for anyone in a wheelchair. And making these places “accessible” isn’t a solution, because by making them accessible, you lose their natural charm. You could run a concrete path next to the Teign, but it would destroy the river for everyone while allowing those in wheelchairs to see the destruction. With Pony Access, areas are accessible without any modification. Mud, ruts, tree stumps or stones, gravel or soft sand, rocks, long grass and heather add variety rather than forming a barrier.
The video shows Obama’s first visit with 17 stone/110kg of me driving from a wheelchair. It was a pleasant and relaxing trip and I will be back soon with Bex who has wanted to visit for ages.
Obama will appreciate the trip because Bex weighs an awful lot less than me. For those who are worried about the workrate for the animal, remember that there are lots of animals, bigger and stronger than Obama, but none as clever or as much of a pain in the backside.
For my next wheelchair trip, I will be driving from Belstone to the Okement River at East Bowden Wood, a lovely and remote spot, not normally reached in a wheelchair.
We did pick up a couple of hitchhikers at Fingle Bridge, shown here having a first drive in the iBex.