Struggling to find accessible days out that will keep the kids entertained over the school holidays? Have some time off coming up and not sure what to fill it with? Or simply just want to go out and make the most of the warm weather? Disability Horizons contributor Emma Purcell guides you through the best accessible places to visit and activities to enjoy around the UK over the summer.
There are hundreds of beaches across the UK, but Brighton beach has been named as one of the top 10 city beaches in the world by Lonely Planet. Added to that, Brighton featured in VisitEngland’s Access for All guide to the best coastal breaks for disabled people.
So that you can access the beach more easily, there are two all-terrain beach wheelchairs available to hire. These can be booked in advance or on the day of your visit, and you can use the chairs for a maximum of two hours. Unfortunately, there are no hoists available though.
Find out more about accessibility in Brighton, including attractions and accommodation, on its website.
Eden Project, Cornwall
The beautiful Cornwall is home to the famous Eden Project, a research and educational visitor centre that is filled with a range of tropical forests, gardens, trails, exhibitions, sculptures, adventure activities and much more. There’s so much to do there…
- Visit the Perfume Garden, which Eden Project says is a ‘feast for your senses’ with smells from a range of different flowers.
- Get ideas for your own allotment in the Sense of Taste Garden, the produce of which is used in the food served in the cafe.
- Play music on the giant Stone Xylophoneus.
- Hunt for the Labyrinth, a circular willow structure hidden in the gardens.
- Watch videos about the creation of Eden in the Film room
- Challenge yourself or a friend on the longest zip-wire in the UK – perfect for anyone who has the motivation, ability and bravery to give it a go, or who wants to laugh watching their friend do it!
In 2010 the Eden Project was given the Readers’ Choice award at the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain Awards.
Facilities include disabled parking and toilets, free admission for carers, wheelchairs available for hire and information provided in alternative formats such as large print, braille and audio described.
There is also a free service where volunteers can assist disabled visitors around the project.
For everything you need to know about the accessibility at Eden, visit the Eden Project accessibility page.
London Transport Museum
There are a lot of museums in London, but the Transport Museum stands out. Looking back at the last 200 years, it explores the history of London and its integral transport system thought the stories of the people who have lived, travelled and worked there. It’s a great insight into the real London, through time.
The access facilities for disabled visitors are at a high standard, with ramps and lifts on every floor. It even caters for those with sensory impairments and provides magnifiers, audio described tours, induction loops, subtitles and BSL interpreters. It’s just a shame the transport itself is not all as accessible!
Go to the Transport Museum’s website to find out all you need to know about accessibility.
Gunwharf Quays and Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
If you love shopping (especially for bargains on well-known brands), going to the cinema, bowling and dining out, you can find it all at the Gunwharf Quays retail outlet in Portsmouth.
The entire outlet is evenly paved, and all shops and restaurants are accessible, too. There are also multiple lifts to take you to the other levels, as well as disabled toilets, which include hoists.
Portsmouth is also the home of the Spinnaker Tower, where you can get amazing views across the city, harbour and surrounding areas that can stretch 23 miles. It is across two floors and can be accessed via a lift.
Clacton Air Show, Essex
Clacton-on-sea beach is known to have good quality accessibility. It has disabled toilets, a wheelchair hire service and disabled access to the beach.
Added to that, at the end of this month, the beach will play host to the annual Clacton Air Show.
So for those of you who enjoy some plane spotting, learning about different aircrafts and watching flight displays, bring your binoculars, shades and picnic basket down to the Essex coast on the 25th and 26th August.
Tank Museum, Dorset
If you’re a history buff and interested in war memorabilia in particular, then the Tank Museum is for you. Located in Bovington, Dorset, it’s been the top-rated attraction in Dorset for a number of years, as voted by TripAdvisor users.
The vast museum allows you to view tanks from over the years, watch them in action, learn about the different wars they have battled in – from WWI, WWII and beyond, to present-day wars, such as Afghanistan.
You can also hear accounts from war veterans who fought in these wars, and learn about the history of this British invention and how it has evolved over the last century.
There is excellent access for disabled visitors including, lifts, ramps and broad pathways. It also has ample disabled parking and wheelchair access to a viewing point over the arena.
Visit The Tank Museum website to find out more about what’s there to explore.
‘Oompa loompa doompety doo, I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you’ – no, no there’s not oompa loompas at Cadbury World, nor do you need a golden ticket. But there is chocolate… lots of it!
Cadbury World is for all you with a sweet tooth. You’ll get to:
- learn about the history of Cadbury’s chocolate
- walk through a recreated Bull Street (where the first Cadbury shop opened)
- discover collections of Cadbury’s advertising
- see how the chocolate is packaged
- enjoy a chocolaty 4D cinema experience
- watch the chocolate makers at work
- and, of course, eat chocolate!
The disabled facilities are suitable for people with all needs. There are low-level desks, ramps, lifts, disabled toilets, tactile surface-level indicators, large print guides and an infrared system for hearing aid users. Find out more on the Cadbury World website.
National Football Museum, Manchester
The new season may be a few weeks away, but all you footie fans can still enjoy some football culture with a trip to the National Football Museum.
You can explore seven levels of football heritage and memorabilia; listen to some of the greatest football moments from past BBC commentary; discover how the game can be enjoyed by people of all abilities, view the exhibition of the summer glory in 1966 and much more.
The museum is accessible to all disabled visitors with lifts, ramps, accessible toilets, induction loops and large print guides that can be downloaded on its website. Visit the accessibility page of the National Football Museum for more.
Romsey Rapids, Southampton
Romsey Rapids is a sports complex in Hampshire, which is well-known for its water park. There’s lots to do, no matter what your ability.
You can ride the rapids, zoom down the flume and dodge the tipping bucket. Or, if you want a slightly less energetic time, you can explore the pirate ship and relax in the bubble seats. For those of you who love swimming or just being in the water, this is the place for you!
It is fully accessible to all disabled visitors and has disabled changing rooms and a pool hoist. There are even disabled swimming sessions available. To find out more about accessibility, visit the Romsey Rapid website.
Accessible zoos and wildlife parks
And finally, to all animal lovers, go visit a zoo, wildlife park, animal sanctuary or aquarium.
Other wildlife parks that have been positively praised by disabled visitors include the Five Sister Zoo near Livingston, Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster and Monkey Forest in Trentham, Staffordshire.
The disabled access at every zoo and wildlife park differs, so click on the links above to take a proper look at the access facilities for each.
By Emma Purcell
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