The Disabled Ramblers use a grading description to give members some feeling for the degree of difficulty of the rambles organized or co-ordinated by the Company.
There are four categories. Broadly, they represent increasing measures of challenge but the extent of the challenge relates to the type of mobility vehicle used. These definitions are for guidance only, and cannot be regarded as definitive. They take into account path surfaces and general quality of the going and a view of the gradients and cambers likely to be encountered. Broadly these categories map on to the Zone definitions described in the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) publication: “By All Reasonable Means”. Category 1 maps to Zone A, Category 2 maps to Zone B, Category 3 maps to Zone C. Category 4 goes beyond this guidance system.
Category 1 implies generally high quality surfaces along the route. The surfaces will be for the most part, smooth and all weather. This means tarmac or good quality crushed stone will predominate. However, there may occasionally be short stretches of rougher path and some seasonal surfaces such as grass or compressed earth. The path will be adequately wide, with a normal standard of 1.5m, though “pinch points” may occur, for example through gates. Cross slopes will be normally very small, say up to 1 in 12. Occasionally cross slopes may be steeper, but there will usually be ways around such sections.
There will be no steep hills greater than 1 in 12, except perhaps for very short stretches, and the total significant (see Note below) height climbed during the ramble will not exceed 30 metres.
Category 2 expects generally good surfaces, but allows longer stretches of stony going (stones up to 40mm) beaten earth or grass track-way. The path will be adequately wide, generally of the order of 1.5m, though a number of narrow stretches down to 1.2m may be present as well as “pinch points” through gates etc. Small steps not higher than 40mm may be encountered. Cross slopes will generally be very small, but sections of cambers, say up to 1 in 8, may occur for short stretches. Small stretches of soft going or stretches involving ruts (up to 40mm) will occasionally be encountered, but usually these may be bypassed.
Hills will generally be no more than 1 in 10, with occasional steeper stretches up to 1 in 8. Total significant height (See Note below) climbed may be up to 150 metres in a day.
Category 3 means longer stretches of rough going, with side slopes and some ruts (max depth 100mm). The paths may well be stony tracks with quite large stones (some stones max 100mm) or there may be very wet and soft sections. Occasional steps up to 100mm may be encountered. Cambers may also be correspondingly steeper, sometimes in excess of 1 in 8.
Hills may be long and steep, with some stretches even up to 1 in 5, or very occasionally 1 in 4. Total significant height (See Note below) climbed during a day may be up to 300 metres.
Category 4 covers paths and trails outside the three categories defined above.
Note: The height assessment used as a basis of route classification is based upon clearly identifiable hills along the route. Normal small ups and downs encountered on any ramble are discounted. The purpose of this assessment is based upon recognizing the impact of hills on battery capacity and the heating and possible safety cut-outs of small electric motors over sustained climbs.
These guidance classifications correspond very broadly to the following users equipped to differing standards:
Category 1 is designed for almost all scooters and buggies, and power-chairs. Additionally, users of manual chairs may manage the routes provided the rider is either powerfully built with plenty of upper body strength, or is assisted by able bodied pushers. The distance travelled along the ramble will usually not exceed 5 miles.
Category 2 is considered generally suitable for very many scooters and buggies, particularly those with medium size, or large, wheels and adequate batteries (at least 50ah capacity, or preferably 60ah). Four wheel machines are recommended, although some 3 wheelers are acceptable, if driven with care. Some heavy duty power-chairs may be used, if adequately supported by an able bodied helper who can steady the machine downhill or on cross cambers. Occasionally users of manual chairs may take part, provided the rider is exceptionally strong in the upper body, and/or has at least one strong fully able bodied helper. Maximum distance: usually 8 miles
Category 3 is designed for users of heavy duty and powerful scooters or buggies only. The distance covered may be highly variable – from 5 miles if along a very hilly route with long steep climbs, up to 8 miles along more level routes. Category 3 routes will present few problems to experienced users of heavy duty buggies.
Category 4 is only for adventurous users of heavy duty buggies, prepared to try routes that may prove impassable. The Disabled Ramblers do not offer this level of ramble.