Highwoods Country Park on the north side of Colchester is a massive green space made up of woodland, grassland, trails, lakes and play areas. The park is perfect for dog walking, cycling, sunbathing and exploring. The park itself is pretty easy to get to, if you’re arriving by car simply head straight up the drive to reach the car park and visitors centre.
The car park is tarmac and is perfect for wheelchair users or those pushing buggies, there is a line of accessible bays complete with cross-hatching near the parking meters and visitors centre. From the car park simply follow the signs to hit the trails or head over to the visitors centre.
Most of the signs are white writing on green backgrounds, they aren’t the easiest to read and the sign in the car park is quite high up.
The visitors centre features outside seating including a picnic table modified to suit wheelchair users. There is a large map on a stand so you can plan your walk while eating ice cream in the sunshine.
Inside the visitors centre there are maps on the walls and a selection of nature displays and gifts. The building has chunky plastic handles to make opining the doors a little easier but there’s still a double set to contend with. Inside the centre is well worth a look even if you’re not shopping, there’s lots of taxidermy animals, deer antlers, feathers and more.
To the left of the visitors centre is a set of toilets including a pretty accessible loo. There’s plenty of floor space with a lowered sink, changing table and hand drier.
The only issue with the accessible bathroom is the mirror which is full length and you can get up close to it but it’s super warped so it’s a little like trying to put on lipstick using a fun house mirror!
Now on to the adventuring, the paths are mostly hard packed dirt with the occasional tree root or loose rock. There are also wide open meadows and a few proper roads around the outside. Generally speaking unless you’ve got a hardcore power chair or you’re super adventurous bits of it are going to be a struggle. Luckily there is a solution!
Introducing the BOMA 7 off-road wheelchair.
This off-road electric beastie lives at the visitors centre and belongs to Walk Colchester it’s available to borrow throughout the spring and summer as well as during the winter on special request. There are trial days approximately once a month but to use the BOMA regularly you’ll need to become a member of Walk Colchester. For more details please email Rowena at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website.
The BOMA is made by Molten Rock and it’s designed for off-road adventuring, it’s highly adaptable so the following description applies to the one at Highwoods not all BOMA chairs.
This BOMA is controlled by a twist throttle and can either be set to left or right hand control depending on the users reference. The BOMA has a small control box on the right hand side at hip level which is used to set the speed (slow or fast) and the control (left or right). The handle bars are removable to allow you to get in easily and there are optional chest straps for those with poor core stability / trunk control. To go you twist the throttle and to stop you simply let go.
The Highwoods chair has a really nice pressure care cushion and a comfy back rest too, there isn’t a headrest though so you need a strong neck especially at high speeds and on rough ground.
Rather than talk more I can simply let you watch. The following video is by CreativeDoink and stars yours truly.
As always questions, comments and shares are welcome. Have you tried the BOMA? I’d love to hear from you!