Copyright Juliet Prentice

Dartmoor’s easy access routes win national award

Ross Tibbles
Ross Tibbles

Dartmoor National Park’s Miles Without Stiles project has been awarded the prestigious Gordon Miller Award, awarded by the Countryside Management Association (CMA).

The annual accolade goes to the most deserving project, initiative or practice that’s making an outstanding contribution to countryside/urban greenspace management. It’s named after the CMA’s Honorary President, himself a former Peak District National Park ranger, who set up the International Ranger Federation. 

Dartmoor National Park’s stunning landscape, rare wildlife and rich heritage makes it a popular destination for many people but things like gates, stiles and steep slopes make it difficult for some people to explore, even if they
want to. 

The National Park’s Miles Without Stiles routes have been created to tackle this. Routes are primarily designed for people with limited mobility including those who use wheelchairs, mobility scooters and families with pushchairs, and they don’t feature any obstacles to climb over.

They also have facilities such as parking, toilets and cafes quite nearby. It means anyone, no matter what their ability, can explore Dartmoor’s varied landscape from woodland river valleys to expansive moorland; Bronze Age monuments to quarrying remains.

The Authority has been helped by the Dartmoor Wheelchair Access Group and regular volunteers have provided practical help to make improvements on the ground. There’s now a growing selection of routes ranging from 1km to 8km and with varying degrees of difficulty.

Linda Nunn, the Countryside Management Association’s Chairman, said: “The CMA is thrilled to award the ‘Miles Without Stiles’ project the prestigious Gordon Miller Award.

‘As the primary body representing countryside and greenspace professionals across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we receive submissions each year hoping to win the coveted barn owl trophy. It’s always difficult to decide between them but the remarkable volunteer effort across Dartmoor National Park to provide long lasting benefits for so many, was a clear favourite for the awards panel. Congratulations to all involved!”

Tim Russell, Dartmoor National Park’s Recreation and Access Projects Officer, said: “We’re chuffed to bits to win the Gordon Miller Award. It recognises the good works being done working with user groups and the stalwart work carried out by our volunteers to improve access for all, which is so important for everyone’s health and wellbeing.”

The award comes hot on the heels of the National Park Visitor Centres scooping Gold in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards.