Vandals destroy ‘magical’ trail for disabled riders

A Riding for the Disabled (RDA) group is facing extensive repairs after vandals destroyed a “magical” trail that runs through fields and woodland.

The volunteer who built the network of fenced all-weather paths at the centre in Summerston, Glasgow discovered his creation “smashed to smithereens” following the Scottish bank holiday weekend.

Top rails had been ripped from the fencing and all of the decorative ornaments that line the pathways had been destroyed.

“Our volunteer Gary [Watson] had built a pond (pictured above) that contained two Nessies and there was a fairy grotto, as well as lots of other little installations to appeal to the younger riders,” said Glasgow RDA fundraiser Leah Ellis.

“It was a very magical walk and added colour for the riders, especially those with autism, where it helped with engagement and capturing their interest.

“The amount of damage is silly,” she added “There were so many little things people had donated like garden gnomes and little fairy houses and hand-made items that are all in bits.”

The Fairy Glen before the vandals visited. Credit: RDA Glasgow Group

Gary’s creation included raised areas, drainage ditches and bridges to enable the Tulliallan Trail to be used in all seasons, as the low-lying land borders the river Kelvin. The route was considered one of the highlights of the purpose-built 20-box facility.

The Fairy Glen destroyed by vandals

“Although we’re in quite an urban setting, if you go out on trail near the river it feels like the middle of the countryside,” Leah said. “For people who are wheelchair-bound or have limited mobility it’s such a great experience.

“There’s open space as well as woodland and a family of ducks on the pond. It is one of few options out in nature for some of them and its very different riding on trail rather than going round and round an arena.”

Leah, who believes local “kids” were behind the destruction, said the group were now “trying to look at the positives” and were planning to revamp the trail “bigger, better, brighter and bolder”.

While the smashed pottery has been removed and the area is now safe for horses, adding security and replacing the installations would be a bigger job.

“Were planning a clear-up day soon and hopefully we can hit the ground running before winter,” she said.

“We’re hopeful we can make it really fantastic and we’re looking at it as an opportunity to add things that improve the experience of riders — like increased signage so we can have a treasure hunt to help with learning and development.

“There’s lots of scope,” she added. “I just hope whatever we put back will recreate that feeling of magic.”

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The centre has started a fundraiser with a £1,000 target for repairing the trail, of which 80% was achieved in just a few days.

“We’ve had such wonderful comments and support from local people and businesses — we even had a farmer’s wife ring up and say they would come down and help repair the fencing,” Leah added. “Something really bad has happened but it makes you realise how well this place is loved and how many good people there are out there.”

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