Abseiling involves repelling down a vertical drop, whether from an artificial abseiling wall or cliffside, supported by a rope. There’s no denying that this is an extreme activity (not to mention loads of fun) that pushes people out of their comfort zones.
One question we get asked when guests start booking an accessible activity holiday with us is ‘can we really do activities like abseiling, even with disabilities?’
The answer to this is yes, absolutely! Ensuring everyone, no matter their ability, can participate in exciting activities that may traditionally be seen as more exclusive daredevil activities is at the very heart of what we do at Calvert Exmoor.
Abseiling Facilities at Calvert Exmoor in Devon
Accessible abseiling is one of our most popular activities, with many guests excited to rise to the challenge of taking on our abseiling wall when they visit.
The outdoor abseiling wall is suitable to use in all weather conditions, so come rain or shine, you’ll be able to have a go at making the descent!
We use and maintain the ropes and safety equipment every day to ensure our expert instructors can provide a safe and adaptable activity to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
Can Anyone do Abseiling?
Yes, anyone can try abseiling! Abseiling can be adapted to the individual participating, and our instructors will work with you to find the most comfortable way for you to have a go at this exciting activity.
We use harnessing, safety equipment and ropes to ensure everyone can make their way down the wall at their own pace. Manual wheelchairs can also be used if needed.
Everything You Need to Know About Accessible Abseiling Sessions
At the start of a session, the activity instructor will lead the group to be fitted out with harnesses, helmets and any other necessary equipment.
Once everyone is appropriately kitted-out, groups will be taken to the viewing area at the top of the wall for a full safety briefing before taking it in turns to abseil down.
Before starting this activity, our instructors ensure each person is secure and understands how to travel down the wall. Two people can abseil side by side, or individuals can go down on their own, depending on how they prefer to tackle the wall!
How Can Abseiling be Adapted?
There are several variations on how the activity can be adapted for different disabilities. Below, we explore what you can expect from all our adaptations.
There is nothing stopping wheelchair users from abseiling – in fact, we think it’s a must-have experience to include on a wheelchair-friendly activity break!
We may use the term ‘abseiling wall’, but it would also be accurate to describe the wall as a steep ramp. The top and the bottom of the wall/ramp are curved, allowing wheelchairs to easily roll over it.
Abseiling Support for Wheelchair Users
To ensure this activity is as accessible as possible, we have a specialist wheelchair that is specifically designed for abseiling. Most guests choose to transfer into it manually or with a hoist. Other manual wheelchairs may be suitable depending on whether the instructor deems them appropriate.
Please note that if you use an electric wheelchair, you will not be able to use it when abseiling and can instead use our abseiling chair.
Once comfortably in the chair and navigating down the abseiling wall, guests can control their speed using the rope system with their hands. Anyone unable to hold or use the ropes will be supported by the instructor.
Wheelchair users on the abseiling wall will have another person abseiling down beside them to provide support if needed and ensure the descent goes completely smoothly.
Abseiling Support for Those with Sensory Disabilities
For those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, instructors can create a system that encompasses rope tugs as a means of communication. The instructor will be in sight of guests who require this at all times for constant visual cues.
Guests who are blind or have a visual impairment will be guided down by the voices of the instructors and the person abseiling beside them.
Abseiling Support for Those with Learning or Behavioural Disabilities
We understand that it can be difficult for people with learning or behavioural disabilities to concentrate and focus or fully understand what they are being asked to do. This, of course, does not mean abseiling is off-limits.
With abseiling, we find that the process of putting on harnesses and helmets before going to the top of the wall breaks the session into several stages and ensures the experience doesn’t feel too overwhelming. This also gives guests time to adapt and allows instructors to go over how the activity will happen once again.
The group will see the wall from the bottom before walking to the top, so everyone has time to process the activity. Instructors will patiently repeat what needs to be done as many times as needed to see the whole group abseiling successfully and confidently.
If they wish, children or adults with learning or behavioural disabilities can also abseil first before focus is lost.
What are the Benefits of Abseiling?
So now you know you can do it, but what about the why?
Aside from abseiling being a thrilling adventure, it can also support participants to develop problem-solving skills, motor skills and coordination – you will be travelling backwards after all!
Abseiling Boosts Confidence & a Sense of Accomplishment
After abseiling, there is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement after guests have achieved something they may not have thought possible. This improves confidence and self-belief.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, our expert team is always on hand to make sure everyone feels their best and most accomplished, especially when abseiling for the first time.
When you succeed at abseiling, it can boost your confidence to try other activities that might have seemed challenging initially. Accessible climbing is another favourite with our guests!
Abseiling Helps You Face Your Fears
Abseiling can push you far out of your comfort zone, especially if it’s something you’ve never thought about trying before. Facing one fear can often create the determination to tackle other challenges with the same enthusiasm.
While abseiling may seem daunting, once you’ve done it, that rush of feeling like you can do anything is next to none!
Abseiling Helps Build Trust & Communication
Guests will be with their group and instructor throughout the duration of their stay, so there is always a social element to our activities and holidays.
All members of the group bond as they get to know what they are doing and become more comfortable. During this shared experience, guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them.
When abseiling individually, the group will watch and provide support. When abseiling in pairs, talking to each other is essential as you descend side by side. The activity encourages friendships and builds relationships, whether you’re enjoying it with friends, family or other members of the group.
Having a disability should never hold anyone back from doing exciting outdoor activities, especially something as enjoyable as accessible abseiling!
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we are dedicated to ensuring adults and children can participate in numerous inclusive adventure activities and enjoy their stay with us to the fullest. If abseiling or any of our other activities sounds like something you or someone you know would love, get in touch with the Calvert Exmoor team today.
In 2018, over £50 million was raised by the Poppy Appeal. These donations help to care for both current and former members of the Armed Forces and their families. There are a variety of UK charities which have been set up to help former soldiers. The gov.uk website has a vast and useful list of charities in connection to veteran welfare and the service community. In this article, we have chosen a selection of charities which aim to support ex-service personnel who have suffered physical or mental trauma. The charities hold similar values to our own, to have accessibility for all.
Every year, Calvert Trust Exmoor welcomes war veterans for residentials at our accessible accommodation. For more information, take a look at our accessible holidays in Devon to find out what to expect when you stay with us.
The Royal British Legion- The Battle Back Centre
The Battle Back Centre was created in 2011 by the Royal British Legion. It was implemented to support injured members of the Armed Forces who were hurt while working in Iraq and Afghanistan. It focuses on providing accessible exercise and adventure activities in a safe space for servicemen and women to share and discuss their experiences while growing in confidence. It hopes to help introduce productive avenues for those who attend with their feelings of stress and anxiety. It has more recently developed wellbeing courses for veterans too.
Head to the Royal Legion website for more information or ring:
For serving personnel: 01952 815 670
For veterans: 01952 815681
Combat Stress has worked in supporting former members of the Armed Forces community to deal with the mental effects of their service for an impressive 100 years. It aims to help with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. It offers various specialist treatment and therapies in three different centres across the country. These include Ayrshire, Shropshire and Surrey and provide both residential and outpatient programmes as well as offering support for substance misuse. Furthermore, Combat Stress has introduced a Peer Support Service, a network created ‘by veterans for veterans’. It aims to provide a secure space for people to discuss their experiences with others who have been through similar situations and is an opportunity for ex-military to socialise comfortably.
A helpline for Combat Stress is available 24 hours a day throughout the year.
For veterans and their families: 0800 138 161
For serving personnel and families: 0800 323 4444
Text service is also available: 07537 404719
The Not Forgotten
The Not Forgotten is a charity which brings ex-service personnel together through social activities and holidays. Help is offered to anyone who has served or is currently serving in :
The Royal Navy
The Royal Marines
The British Army
The Royal Air Force
The Merchant Navy, both Regular and Reserve Forces
The charity aims to inspire confidence through physical tasks, which aim to challenge and inspire feelings of value and self-confidence. The charity also promotes the importance of socialising and creating friendships with fellow ex-service personnel.
To apply, head to the Not Forgotten website and fill in a general information form or print off and send in the post.
This charity has impressively supported for the Armed Forces for over 130 years. They pride themselves on their flexible services which they work hard to adjust and tailor to each individual to ensure help is as effective as possible. Working alongside other military charities, they are dedicated to providing those who seek support are efficiently looked after. These services include both physical and emotional care, including housing, finances, PTSD, addiction and relationship help.
To speak to a Forcesline advisor, telephone lines are available from Monday to Friday, 09:00- 17:30 on 0800 731 4880.
Help for Heros
Help for Heros is a well-known charity which offers support nationwide for those who have suffered an injury and illnesses while serving in the Armed Forces. They offer a recovery programme which has been developed alongside the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre which aims to either create the opportunity for veterans to live independently or for those who can, to successfully return to their military unit. The Stanford Hall Estate has been developed to make this possible and is a vital part of the programme. The H4H Veterans Clinical Advisor has been implemented to aid more advance injuries that require more complex treatment.
For further information about the support Help for Heros provides, please contact 0300 303 9888.
The NHS is not a charity, but it is worth looking into the help offered which is specific to ex-service personnel. They have a series of services which are designed to support the Armed Forces community across England. These include :
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
TILS was created to help servicemen and women transitioning from their service out of the Armed Forces. The aim is to prevent mental health issues developing further than the early stages by giving support promptly. Other affairs such as finance, employment and housing can also be offered.
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
This could be considered as the next stage after TILS if initial treatment has not shown any signs of significant progress and used for more advanced mental health issues. It consists of intensive therapies and occupational and trauma-focused therapies to treat substance misuse and physical health, amongst other areas which need support.
If you are looking for adventure breaks in the Southwest of England, our accessible site is situated in the peaceful and soothing countryside of Exmoor. For more information on our location, take a look at our blog on Six Top Accessible National Trusts Site in Devon.