Published: 29th OCTOBER 2021

New adventures on the Water Rail Way: Linda and Adam's story

Linda and her son Adam love getting outside to enjoy nature in the fresh air. But when a barrier prevented the pair from using their local stretch of the National Cycle Network, Linda got in touch with Sustrans to change this.

Adam with his carer Gemma on the Water Rail Way, Lincolnshire

Adam with his carer, Gemma, using their Van Raam Velo Plus wheelchair bike.

Linda Taylor is a full-time carer for her 31-year-old son, Adam.

Adam has a unique chromosome abnormality which affects his speech, sight and mobility.

He loves the experience of being outside with his parents or his carer, Gemma.


The Water Rail Way

Linda has always enjoyed cycling along her local National Cycle Network path in Lincolnshire, the Water Rail Way.

She wanted to begin taking Adam out for rides, but soon found that it was impossible to access the route on their specialised wheelchair bike.

They were unable to cross Five Mile Bridge, located between Fiskerton and the Water Rail Way, because of a barrier which was too tight to manoeuvre the bike around.

This was heartbreaking for Linda, who wanted to share the experience of riding the Water Rail Way with her son.

She was also concerned about the effect this barrier was having on other potential path users, such as people with large prams, in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters.

So rather than give up, Linda decided to try and change things.


Seeking support from Sustrans

Linda got in touch with the local parish council and the Canal and River Trust, who own both the land and bridge.

After discussing the nature of the barrier and finding it difficult to make progress, she turned to us.

Martyn Brunt, Land Manager for the Midlands and East, picked up Linda’s enquiry.

He listened to her story and was determined to help Linda and Adam start accessing the path freely and easily.

A frame barrier at Five Mile Bridge

The A frame barrier at Five Mile Bridge before Martyn's team stepped in to help out.

Addressing local concerns

Martyn met with Linda and Adam to inspect the barrier at Five Mile Bridge and understand what could be done.

Through his contacts, Martyn discovered that the barrier had been installed a long time ago because of concerns about motorbikes using the bridge.

Martyn then accompanied Adam’s parents to a meeting of Fiskerton Parish Council where he appealed for support.

He proposed a trial period in which they could see the effect of temporarily changing the barrier.

The parish council was very supportive and the Canal and River Trust soon approved the idea.

Blockquote quotation marks
It just seemed so unfair that a brilliant path like the Water Rail Way was right on their doorstep but they couldn’t get onto it. Blockquote quotation marks
Martyn Brunt, Land Manager, Midlands and East

Trialling a temporary change

After getting the go-ahead, Martyn and his team went straight to the barrier and pulled the A frame apart using tension straps.

This made a sufficient opening for Linda to take Adam through and over Five Mile Bridge in his wheelchair or on their specialised bike.

After a successful trial period, in which no negative issues with the bridge were reported, Martyn’s team permanently changed the barrier.


Experiencing the outdoors

Linda and Adam's days out on the Water Rail Way became a vital part of getting through Covid lockdowns.

Since Martyn’s team stepped in to widen the barrier in early 2020, Linda and Adam have been able to travel the 9-mile stretch between Lincoln and Bardney Lock.

They’ve spotted herons, swans and grass snakes while exploring the banks of the River Witham.

Adam in his Delta all terrain buggy on Bacton beach

Adam experiencing the beach for the first ever time at Bacton in Norfolk, thanks to the family's Delta all-terrain buggy.

Reaching new places

The family’s Van Raam Velo Plus wheelchair bike allows Adam to experience the excitement of travelling actively in the open air.

Their Delta all-terrain buggy has also helped them to visit new places.

With it, they’ve managed to explore from the sands of Skegness Beach to the 200 acres of Hartsholme Park.

While Adam can’t communicate his thoughts, Linda knows when he's enjoying himself.

His laughter and giggles whilst out and about have made all the hard work worthwhile for Linda.


Find out how we're helping more people to access the National Cycle Network.

Donate today and support our work

Your donation will help us improve access to walking and cycling and create paths for everyone across the UK.

Share this page

Read more personal stories