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Getting out in the countryside has always been important to me, be it on foot or by mountain bike. Through my work I have focused on many countryside and natural environment projects e.g. with Ham Hill Country Park, Durlston Country Park, Hengistbury Head and Yeovil Country Park. My declining mobility due to Becker Muscular Dystrophy has made accessing the countryside much more difficult over the last 20 years. However technology, particular in the shape of the Tramper offroad mobility scooter has made getting out into the countryside possible for work and pleasure. Since 2016 I have owned my own Tramper TWS, however many opportunities exist around the country to hire Trampers such as through the Countryside Mobility scheme The Tramper has enabled me to access the countryside again and walk our dog Dotty safely on my own, within countryside project the Tramper is invariably recommended and incoporated within the project funding and subsequent operation.

Getting to the pub!

During the school holidays in 2020 with the decision to stay in Dorset rather than go away, myself and my 2 teenage sons, Sam and Joey struck out one morning in July at 9.30am on foot and three wheels, headed for the Fox Inn at Ansty ( for lunch.

navigating an overgrown pathInitially over known paths we made it across the first three fields before entering the historic sunken lane that would have been the well-trodden route from Tolpuddle to Dewlish, frequented over many centuries by travellers including the Methodist preacher and Tolpuddle Martyr George Loveless on the way to lead Sunday service.

In George’s day the path would no doubt have been kept clear by more frequent use. It now involved a fight through above head height vegetation including brambles and nettles. With gloves on and head down, I in the Tramper was given the task of ploughing a route through for Sam and Joey to follow.

The sunken lane was disrupted by the A354, after crossing that the sunken lane continued with the later stretches having been cleared to reveal coppiced stumps of Hazel. Emerging from the lane the path widened to reveal flower rich grassland with butterflies and dragonflies and a Buzzard soaring overhead.

We made it in to Dewlish, about halfway there, in an hour and a half. This was behind time according to my estimates and the pre-recorded route on the Ordnance Survey mapping app (see more about that here). So we had to push on to make it to Ansty for lunch booked at 12.30.

green laneThe GPS tracker on the OS mapping helped us follow the route across grass and planted fields, confused slightly by new fencing.

Fortunately Joey’s sense of direction and eagle eyes got us back on the route as we headed up on to the chalk ridge. A farmer on a quad bike provided our only human contact on the walk and guided us onto the bridleway to the path crossroads at Gallows Corner. A chilling name where five paths meet. We headed north west on Bramblecombe Lane, a wide and attractive path next to a deer bank and surrounded by small trees and coppice. The path soon deteriorated with a fallen tree blocking the Tramper’s path, the boys managed to pull it back long enough for me to squeeze past, perhaps we need to carry a bowsaw? Further on despite it being July the path became a sea of mud and the Tramper even with aggressive off-road tyres lost grip on a number of occasions resulting in the need for the assistance of a push.

We made it through and joined the minor road looking down over the valley and the historic house at Bingham’s Melcombe. At this point a call to the Fox Inn pushed the lunch reservation back by 30 minutes – we weren’t going to make 12.30! We choose a downhill bridle way off the road that would take us down into Ansty, we avoided the route around Coombe Bottom as the contour lines were far too close together – it looked steep and potentially a cross slope, particular uncomfortable on the Tramper.

journey's endWe reached the Fox Inn just after 1pm, muddy, stung and hungry. We were joined by my wife Sally who had driven up. The Tramper had been great, although on a number of occasions the narrow rutted paths and steep connections had warranted a guiding hand or counterbalanced weight from the boys. The seven and a half miles felt longer! The Tramper had used 73% of the battery capacity so wasn’t going to make it home even if everyone wanted to! We described it as an adventure with the Fox’s home-made pizza being enjoyed by Sam and Joey who had certainly earned their lunch, and I enjoyed a draught beer.