PLANS to provide mobility scooters to allow disabled people easier access to the Malvern Hills have come a step closer to reality.
Organiser this week carried out a route assessment, riding two scooters on the Worcestershire Beacon, the highest point of the hills.
The plan is the brainchild of Dr Adrian Burden, founder of the Wyche Innovation Centre, close to some of the most popular visitor spots on the hills.
The centre contains the Malvern Hills GeoCentre, and Cafe H2O, whose staff, called Team Jamboree, are raising money to buy a mobility scooter.
Dr Burden said: "The intended route would enable residents and visitors of the Malvern Hills with restricted mobility or a disability to travel up to the Worcestershire Beacon whilst accompanied by a friend or family member.
"This initiative will help more people access the Malvern Hills and enjoy the fresh air and fantastic views on offer.
"There has been enthusiastic support from the Malvern Hills Conservators, the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Disabled Ramblers.
"We are also working with Countryside Mobility, a project of Living Options Devon, who have experience in providing mobility scooters to various attractions in the UK."
The route assessment carried out this week is part of an important access audit and risk assessment which has to be carried out before the scooter service is offered.
After the route assessment, Dr Burden said: "Over the next few weeks we’ll be reviewing the risk assessment, recommendations and findings from today’s activities and hope that our plans are feasible, following which we’ll provide more details."
The mobility scooter project arose out of a debate about disabled access to the Malvern Hills, prompted in part by the controversial proposals to build a cable car on the side of the Worcestershire Beacon.
The Disabled Ramblers, a national charity which aims to get mobility-limited people out and about, says the hills are largely accessible given the right mobility aids.
John Cuthbertson, director of the charity, who lived close to the hills for many years, said: "Thanks to the Conservators’ policy of keeping the hills open to all, we have run rambles over almost the full length of the Malvern Hills from North Malvern Quarry to Castlemorton Common."