Whether you’ve just started planning your trip or have already booked up, the following guide created by straight stairlift retailer, Acorn Stairlifts, will provide you with some inspiration when it comes to creating your itinerary.
For each destination, we outline the must-see attractions, as well as the associated mobility considerations.
The Lake District, England
No visit to the UK is complete without a visit to the Lake District. In rain, hail or shine, visitors flock to the area to enjoy the views, walk many miles around the lakes and have some relaxation away from the big cities.
The location of the Lake District is naturally hilly, so there will be some inclines to overcome. However, a lot of work has been carried out to make the area more accessible.
There are 48 Miles Without Stiles walking routes in the National Park, which are suitable for people with limited mobility and wheelchair users. There are a number of walks to choose from, each with their own grading based on inclines and the surface of the path, so you can choose the route based on a length and type you are comfortable with.
If you want to get out on the water, Coniston Boating Centre has an electric wheelchair accessible boat. Capable of carrying up to six wheelchair users, it’s perfect if you enjoy want to enjoy a spot of fishing.
Country shows and festivals take place throughout the year and can make your trip extra special. These include farmers’ markets, food markets and unique film festivals, so there’s certainly something for all hobbies. If you do plan on attending an event, contact the organiser in advance to check how accessible the event will be for your mobility needs.
The Highlands and Edinburgh, Scotland
When in the Scottish Highlands, you’re never far from a breath-taking view or picturesque moment. The country is relatively small compared to other European countries and there are plenty of transport links which allow you to see a lot in a short space of time.
You can jump on the West Highland Line, a trainline that runs between Glasgow, Oban, Fort William, and more. On your journey, you’ll see rugged mountains, rich greenery and other scenes that you’d only spot in the countryside. Take your trip to the seas by heading up to Moray Firth. Here, you will be in the vicinity of bottlenose dolphins, seals, whales, and porpoises.
The service is operated by ScotRail, a company with a strong commitment to improving accessibility for its passengers. Wheelchair users can purchase a ticket for their journey at a discounted price, while if you will need further assistance boarding or leaving a train, entering or leaving the station, or carrying your luggage, you can contact the company to book this in advance.
While you’re in Scotland, plan a visit to Edinburgh. Despite its cobbled streets and hilly terrain, a lot is being done to improve the city’s accessibility. Much of the city can be accessed via taxis or public transport, with all Lothian buses across their 70 routes offering easy access.
One of Edinburgh’s best-loved attractions, Edinburgh Castle, is located atop a steep slope. A mobility vehicle is provided to take those with mobility issues from the entrance to the castle’s highest point and back, and limited wheelchairs are provided for use in the attraction. Note that wheelchair access is limited for some of the castle’s exhibitions.
If you enjoy horticulture or just want to spend some time in a picture-perfect location, plan a trip to Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden. The site is widely wheelchair accessible, with clearly identified flat paths and ramped access to buildings. Steeper or non-accessible areas are clearly signposted.
Nestled on the south-western tip of England, Cornwall is renowned for its sizzling summer temperatures and beautiful beaches. Some of the region’s beaches offer disabled access – more information about which each can be found here – while Cornwall Mobility has secured a number of sand chairs. These all-terrain wheelchairs can easily traverse sand and pebbles, increasing enjoyment of the beaches for those with mobility difficulties. They can be booked in advance – view the contact information for each beach here.
The Eden Project is one of Cornwall’s best-loved attractions. It is made up of two biomes, one of which simulates a rainforest environment and the other, a Mediterranean climate. You can therefore see flora of all shapes and sizes that wouldn’t usually be found in England. There are elevated pathways which allow you to walk among the treetops and a waterfall that cascades through the rainforest – made of the rain water that falls on the biome.
In 2017, The Eden Project won Visit England’s Inclusive Tourism Award. They welcome all types of mobility vehicles and have an estimated 40 manual wheelchairs on-site that are free to borrow. Six powered chairs are also available, but these will need to be booked in advance. An accessible park-and-ride service is available from the car parks to the Visitor Centre, while there are different routes around the attraction based on the gradient you are comfortable with.
The Northern Irish Coast
There is much to explore along the Northern Irish Coast. For travelling there or accommodation purposes, stay in the city of Belfast – it has well-organised transport in and out of the city and it’s not too far from the sights you’ll want to see.
While you’re in the city itself, you can experience Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, and watch as technology brings the history of this ill-fated ship to life. The site offers good levels of accessibility and is fully accessible for wheelchair users. A number of wheelchairs are available for use and the attraction’s Shipyard Ride has a wheelchair accessible car.
It’s close to the Giant’s Causeway too – another popular site for Irish tourists. Situated on the coast, this attraction is the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, although there is a legend that argues it was built by an Irish giant as a way to reach a Scottish giant ahead of a fight. Only some of the coastal paths are suitable for those with mobility considerations and wheelchair users. The Green Trail is most suited to wheelchair users. More information can be found here.
If you’re looking for a stunning backdrop to your holiday photos or are a fan of Game of Thrones, take a drive along the Dark Hedges – which features in the HBO series. It is an avenue of beech trees that date back to the 18th century and is truly stunning to see.
If you’re planning a trip to the UK, there are plenty of attractions to pack into your itinerary. There are opportunities for everything from adrenaline-pumping activities to brisk walks amongst the countryside – take your pick!