Improving access to the outdoors for all

Natural Resources Wales aims to make the outdoors inclusive and accessible so that everyone can enjoy Wales’ diverse landscapes. 

The Outdoor Access and Recreation team leads our work to improve access for all.

Over the last few years, the team has worked on a variety of projects from employing disability organisations to carry out assessments of our recreation sites and trails to producing guidance for land managers.

Our work to improve access for all is an example of delivering our well-being objectives and it also ensures we consider the needs of people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

Equality Impact assessment of our visitor sites

We strive to make our sites as accessible, inclusive and welcoming as they can be so that everyone can have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

We have assessed our main visitor sites to find out:

  • whether we provide fair and equal services and facilities for all
  • what we are doing well
  • what we can improve on

The results of these assessments are included in an Equality Impact assessment report.

Many of the recommendations from this report are about keeping up the effective work we are already doing.

We are using other recommendations from the report to help improve:

  • signage
  • path surfaces
  • communication with visitors
  • information and guidance for staff to consider all protected characteristics

Read the executive summary of the Equality Impact assessment report

Guidance on inclusive access to the outdoors

We worked with the Sensory Trust to develop guidance to help ensure that access to the countryside and open spaces is equally available to people of all ages, circumstances and backgrounds.

The guidance (By All Reasonable Means: Guidance on Least Restrictive Access to the Outdoors) offers a realistic, practical and effective approach to access improvements.

It provides a framework for improving access and encourages land managers to identify those standards and techniques that are most appropriate for a particular situation.

It was designed for use by our recreation site managers to help them improve inclusive access at the woodlands and reserves they look after. The Sensory Trust provided training based on the guidance to our site managers.

The guidance may also be used by other organisations that create, manage or maintain recreational access facilities.

The guidance:

  • looks at how to make trails, sites, facilities and associated information more accessible and inclusive
  • considers how to improve the experience at places that are already accessible

It uses a technique known as the Access Chain to focus on access as a chain of events that start, for example, at home, where a decision to visit a site or route might be made, and to where a visitor returns to after experiencing the outdoors.

The appendices include access standards for different types of sites, links to relevant legislation and organisations and guidance on path auditing and action planning.

Accessible visits information

Accessibility is an individual decision and we want to empower people to decide if our sites are suitable for them and their equipment, rather than us telling them what is suitable or not.

To help people make an informed choice before they visit, we worked with Experience Community to create films about some of our trails to add to the information we already provide for visitors.

The films provide information about trails with some gradient, uneven surfaces and a level of challenge. 

Each film shows a disabled person using adaptive equipment to negotiate a trail. The films do not prescribe what equipment someone should use, leaving this decision up to individual choice and circumstances. 

By providing information about a trail visually, some trails that cannot be graded as accessible against standard criteria may become an option for people with suitable equipment. This will enable more people to experience more of Wales’ landscape.

The films have been added to the accessible visits section of our Days Out website which also has  information about our accessible-graded walking trails and visitor centres.

Find out more

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