Regardless of mobility or ability, everyone should be able to enjoy the beauty of the UK, from London’s sweeping skyscrapers to the Lake District’s rolling hills. This winter marks two important disability awareness days: Purple Tuesday on 1 November, a social movement aiming to improve the customer experience for disabled people and their families, and the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December. In recognition of these days, Visit England has gathered some of the best accessible travel experiences available across the nation for everyone to enjoy.
England’s Best Accessible Travel Experiences
- Exploring North Yorkshire
- Learning to sail in Cornwall
- Beach wheelchairs
- Outdoor adventure holidays
- Accessible attractions
Exploring North Yorkshire
The North York Moors Accessibility Project
Known for its spectacular scenery and centuries of history and heritage, North Yorkshire is a stunning region of the UK. Launched in September 2022, the North York Moors Accessibility Project aims to inspire visitors with accessibility to visit the region, with attractions and accommodation providers working with the initiative to bolster their accessible travel experiences.
Newly accessible highlights in the region include taking a historic train journey on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, visiting the Whitby Abbey ruins, and enjoying the pretty Helmsley Walled Garden. The area is easy to explore by car, but there is also an abundance of wheelchair friendly walking trails, and hireable adapted bikes and trampers.
HOW? Discover more and plan your visit at visitengland.com
Learning To Sail In Cornwall
Mylor Sailing & Powerboat School
Budding sailors aged six and above should venture down to Cornwall, where the Mylor Sailing & Powerboat School is ready and raring to transform guests ‘from absolute beginners to salty seadogs’. Named Visit England’s Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Award Gold winner in June 2022, Mylor runs year-round accessible sessions from the Mylor Yacht Harbour in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Mylor runs group and private sessions, and the website has detailed descriptions of what the sessions entail, including a storyboard step by step of the day and a list of frequently asked questions. Mylor also offers free sessions for terminally ill people and their loved ones as part of their ‘Good Day Promise’ scheme.
HOW? Plan your visit at mylorsailingschool.co.uk
Coastal locations across the nation are working to make beaches – with their tricky terrain – more accessible for all. Whether you’re looking for a chilled day by the sea or a wintery walk along the shore, the following locations are particularly well-equipped to make this happen:
Fleetwood, Lancashire: Specialised beach wheelchairs are available for all needs, including harnesses, a hoist, a Rotunda and specialised cushions.
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk: Specially designed beach wheelchairs were introduced in 2014, with large pneumatic wheels which slide easily over sand.
Cornwall: A Cornish beaches offer wheelchair hire, including Fistral Beach in Newquay and Porthminster in St Ives.
Bournemouth: Beach wheelchair hire is available at five locations, and Boscombe beach also has three wheelchair accessible beach huts available for hire.
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Outdoor Adventure Holidays
Calvert Trust, in Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District
The Calvert Trust has three centres across England – in Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District – and over 40 years of experience delivering challenging and educational outdoor adventure holidays for disabled adults and children. Experiences such as high rope courses, archery, bushcraft sessions, kayaking, motor boating and sailing are adrenaline filled and hope to show participants that ‘it’s what you can do that counts’.
The centres also house accessible accommodation, facilities and grounds, with the Kielder branch in particular having ten accessible self-catering log chalets including the special Sky Den, created by George Clark’s Amazing Spaces Channel 4 TV programme.
HOW? Plan your adventure at calvert-trust.org.uk.
Accessible Attractions Across The UK
Roman Baths, Bath
One the UK’s most popular historic sites is 90 percent accessible to wheelchair users, and visitors with hearing or visual impairments can enjoy the sight using British Sign Language tours, descriptive audio tours and tactile models. The website also provides advance information for prospective visitors with autism and claustrophobia. romanbaths.co.uk
LEGOLAND Windsor, Berkshire
LEGOLAND’s Ride Access Pass allows disabled visitors, guests who require extra assistance, or those unable to queue to join a virtual queuing system to access the 55 rides and attractions. There’s also the calming ‘Total Sensory Space’, designed to provide a quiet, relaxing space away from the resort’s rides, live shows, and attractions. legoland.co.uk
Bear Grylls Adventure, Birmingham
Bear Grylls believes in adventure for everyone – those looking for a thrilling accessible travel experience should head to his award-winning Adventure centre at the NEC Birmingham, home to Europe’s tallest high ropes, an indoor skydiving tunnel and a tropical dive tank. It has been recognised for its accessibility and inclusivity by the West Midlands Tourism Awards, and was awarded the Above and Beyond Award at the Blue Badge Access Awards. beargryllsadventure.com
The Eden Project, Cornwall
With an overall mission to create build relationships between people and the natural world, the team at the world-famous Eden Project works hard to make the site as accessible as possible for everyone, with a dedicated Access Team, a pre-bookable Access Guides to support visitors. For visually impaied people, a Braille guide book is available, as well as a borrowable text reader to interpret signs. There is also a range of complimentary mobility aids, including wheelchairs, powered chairs and an all-terrain Tramper mobility scooter. edenproject.com
Alton Towers, Staffordshire
This year, working with AccessAble and the Business Disability Forum, the Alton Towers team is overhauling its accessible travel experiences, improving changing space facilities and providing Ride Access Passes, wheelchair hire, mobility scooters, accessibility maps, hearing loops and ear defenders, and installing quiet spaces to support those with sensory issues. Prospective guests can also plan their Alton Towers trip in advance using the online Accessibility Guide. altontowers.com
Featured Image: Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire (c) Getty.