Sarah Lister from Skye and Lochalsh Council won our Active Travel Volunteer of the Year for significantly transforming path links throughout Skye to make them more accessible and in turn has helped to improve the health of many in the local community.
Sarah, along with her friend Melanie, mapped town centres in Portree and Kyle of Lochlash in order to help develop more accessible path links for those with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
The maps will focus on short every day journeys within Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh. Both locations have significant issues for accessibility and the maps will advise people where critical access points such as dropped kerbs, seating and wider paths are.
My friend Melanie and I want people of all ages and abilities to be able to enjoy Skye and experience some of its quieter hidden gems. Enjoying the scenery and beauty on foot, in a wheelchair or on a scooter.
Paths for All asked us to get involved in helping to create maps with information about the accessibility of each of the paths and we got a lot of great feedback from the website.
We’ve heard from people with elderly or disabled relatives that our project has given them the confidence to visit Skye by just knowing there are accessible routes and still things for them to do and see.
One person even got in touch whilst deciding whether to move to Skye. They were unsure if it would suit due to limited accessibility and we were able to help her with that.
Sarah herself was diagnosed with a brain tumour over 10 years ago which left her unable to walk unaided and relies on a mobility scooter and rollator.
This spurred on Sarah’s determination to show how Skye can be accessible, and how people with long-term health conditions and mobility issues can participate in active travel.
You don’t notice how inaccessible many areas are unless you are disabled yourself or have a family member who is. So, looking back to places I’d been to before, I couldn’t remember if they were accessible or not.
During lockdown, Melanie and I mapped out some of the nearby area whilst adhering to all guidelines about staying close to home, and we routed more accessible paths. As restrictions eased, we were able to map out some areas further afield, making some great memories exploring different places around Skye – albeit social distance walking was a bit different to normal!
It’s been great to get outside and explore places that I didn’t really know about before. Making these beautiful routes in Skye that bit more accessible is just the cherry on top.
This project is supported by Paths for All's SmarterChoices, Smarter Places programme.
Sarah won our Active Travel Volunteer of the Year at our 2020 Volunteer Awards, you can view the rest of the winners here.