Top 10 Accessible Tourist Destinations in the UK
From dramatic coastlines to imposing castles, the UK is blessed with a huge variety of landscapes and cultural hubs. Of course, when it comes to country walks and historical buildings, not all destinations are 100% mobility-friendly.
However, in celebration of National English Tourism Week 2018, we’ve mined the web for accessible options. And from stately gardens to astronomical wonders, we reckon we’ve found some crackers. Here are our top 10.
Described by Alan Titchmarsh as ‘one of the UK’s must-see gardens’, the award-winning Trentham estate boasts an Italian Garden, monkey forest (real monkeys), fairy trail (not real fairies…), lakes and a maze. There’s also a wheelchair-accessible passenger boat, which offers unique views of the grounds from the lake.
The estate is all on one level with low ramped access to most facilities. You’ll also find frequently-placed benches if you’d like to take a rest or simply want to enjoy the view. Tough-terrain wheelchairs are also available, free of charge.
2. Boating on the Broads, Norfolk
Did you know that the Broads is one of the UK’s 15 National Parks? With interconnected canals flowing through 125 miles of open countryside, bobbing along the man-made waterways is a brilliant way of soaking in the scenery. Many companies, such as Wroxham-based Broads Tours, offer daily hire of boats specially adapted for wheelchair users.
Sitting at the heart of the City of Bath World Heritage Site, The Roman Baths offer a remarkable window into the culture and practices of Roman Britain. The city’s unique thermal springs rise in the site and the Baths still flow with natural hot water.
And while journeying through remains of the ancient world may not sound particularly easy, the team at the Roman Baths describe the site as 90% accessible to wheelchair users. This has been made possible via a series of lifts and ramps.
Why not watch their dedicated accessibility video for more info?
A VisitEngland inclusive tourism winner in 2017, the Eden Project is one of the UK’s best-known and most accessible tourist destinations. Housed on the site of a Cornish ex-claypit, the Project’s huge glass biomes are now home to the largest captive rainforest in the world.
Exploring this biological phenomenon is reasonably easy. Much of the site is on one level, and the Project offers a range of free-to-use manual and powered wheelchairs. Accessible toilets are available, as well as a Changing Places facility.
If you’re in the mood to soak up some culture, this Merseyside gem is famed for housing one of the UK’s best collections of fine and decorative art. It also boasts the finest collection of Wedgewood jasperware in the world, as well as an impressive collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. The building is in itself worth a visit, built in 1922 by Lord Lever, in memory of his wife, Elizabeth.
The Gallery was rated the fifth most accessible tourist destination in the UK in 2014. Access to the gallery is via a ramp, wheelchairs are available to borrow, and there is an accessible toilet on-site.
Brightly coloured beach huts, the smell of fish and chips, and thieving gulls – the sandy beach at Boscombe offers all the charm you’d expect of the good old English seaside. Getting down the surf is made easy with a pair of cliff lifts (the third is currently under repair), and roaming the sandy stretch of beach below has been made a doddle with free-to-use sandy-surface wheelchairs.
Pass the ice cream.
Sitting on the banks of the legendary Loch Ness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle guard over 1,000 years of secrets and drama. Inside, you’ll find a lift down to the shop, café, and exhibition space, which houses fascinating displays of artefacts and historic replicas, as well as a short film.
When it’s time to explore the scenic grounds, Urquhart offer motorised buggies which make the steep hill to and from the Visitor centre no problem – leaving you free to enjoy the view.
Turn your head to the stars at Kielder Observatory, and gaze in wonderment at the beauty above. Nestled under the largest expanse of protected skies in Europe (and the darkest in the UK), Kielder hosts regular astronomy events to suit the whole family. Gain fascinating insights into the science surrounding the stars, as well as some of the fairytales and folklore that have been inspired by our skies.
All rooms in the observatory are wheelchair accessible (bar one), and parking directly in front of the observatory is possible if you notify the team in advance (advance bookings are recommended for all visitors, as spaces fill up fast).
Accessible toilets are available during their evening and night-time events. Blankets are provided if you’d like to relax on the outdoor viewing deck but do remember to wrap up warm!
9. Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire
Despite being the UK’s smallest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, our second Staffordshire entry offers seriously big views. The Visitor Centre offers three large all-terrain mobility scooters that are free to loan, along with maps detailing suitable trails. The routes explore the former RAF Hedesford base, which is now part of the country park.
10. The Cambrian Mountains, Mid Wales
Nestled between its better-known neighbours, Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Cambrians were the Welsh mountains’ poor relation. However, this largely unspoiled landscape is one of the best places in Wales to spot red kites. They also offer Waymarked Walks specifically built for people with restricted mobility.
The Vale of Rheidol railway near Aberystwyth also offers wheelchair users the chance to sit back and enjoy some of Wales’ most spectacular scenery, including the beauty spot of Devil’s Bridge.
Could you offer an insight into accessible tourist destinations? Why not share your experiences with euansguide.com? It’s a dedicated website for disabled access reviews.