This Valentine’s Day, dial up the romance with one of these unforgettable accessible experiences. Do something different with a spot of stargazing and cliff-jumping or keep it traditional with a romantic city break and a box of chocolates – with a twist. Rough Guide’s writer Emma Field has cherry-picked seven ideas so you can treat your sweetheart to something special.
1. Soak up some UNESCO heritage on a Bath city break
You might not expect the historic Bath Spa to be particularly accessible, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised! It’s packed with accessible attractions and experiences. Check these handy accessible guides for details. See the Roman Baths, take a tailor-made, wheelchair-friendly walking tour, then amp up the romance with a dip in the rooftop pool of Thermae Bath Spa as the sun sets over the chimneys, spires and distant hills. Thermae Bath Spa has unisex accessible toilets, lifts to all floors and chairs to get you into the baths.
Less than a mile from the city centre, the Holiday Inn Express has several purpose-built accessible bedrooms. If you want to splash out, the 5-star Gainsborough hotel has a selection of rooms designed for guests with impaired mobility.
The rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa
2. Cuddle up under the stars in Scotland
For something a bit different, grab your binoculars and spend Valentine’s night gazing at the night sky – from inside your Motability Scheme vehicle if you don’t want to brave the cold night air! Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park is one of the best places in Europe to watch the celestial show. More than 7,000 stars and planets, and the bright band of the Milky Way, can be seen with the naked eye. Head to the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre for more information on the best spots for stargazing. It has an accessible toilet with a hoist available during opening hours (11am-2pm Mon-Fri, and 10am-4pm Sat-Sun, until 30 March 2018); an external disabled toilet is available outside those times. On the edge of the park, the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory has stargazing events, accessible toilets and level access to the Planetarium, gift shop and reception area, but unfortunately the elevated observing deck on the first floor is not accessible to wheelchair users.
The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory in Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park
3. Uncover the lives and loves behind the Titanic in Belfast
The Titanic Experience brings the stories of the infamous ship to life. Even James Cameron, the director of the deeply romantic Titanic movie, has visited, describing the experience as “magnificent and dramatic”. Explore nine interactive and fully accessible galleries in the very spot the ship was built and launched and, if you visit the Sunday before Valentine’s Day, treat your date to the Titanic Sunday Afternoon Tea served in replica White Star Line crockery in the opulent Titanic Suite.
Expect a multi-sensory day out, with top-notch accessible facilities, including audio-described and printed guides, state-of-the-art British Sign Language visuals, and help for those with autism ASD. Find out more about access on the Titanic Belfast Accessibility page.
Inside a cabin at The Titanic Experience
4. Take the plunge in Pembrokeshire, Wales
At first glance, throwing yourselves into the sea in February doesn’t seem like a particularly romantic activity, but bear with it! There’s nothing like a truly raw and wild experience to get hearts racing, and the colder temperature just adds to the excitement. The award-winning Celtic Quest Coasteering runs year-round Disabled Coasteering adventures. You don’t even need to be a particularly good swimmer – the kit they provide will keep you afloat. Just bring an up-for-anything attitude. You WILL get wet as you scramble, rock hop and swim along the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast. Just think of the cosy fire you’ll both cuddle up next to afterwards!
A wet and wild day out with Celtic Quest Coasteering
5. Go above and beyond a box of chocolates at Cadbury World, Birmingham
Treat a sweet-toothed Valentine to a tour at Cadbury World. You’ll learn all about the history of Cadbury, find out how chocolate is made, and watch Cadbury’s chocolatiers at work. There are touch and feel props, audio tours, videos with subtitles, DDA-compliant handrails and it all smells great! Guide dogs aren’t allowed in production areas but a dog sitting service is available. Sadly, there’s no chocolate tasting on the tour but there is the world’s biggest Cadbury’s shop and a cafe. Read more about access on the Cadbury World Accessibility page.
The beautiful grounds at Compton Verney, designed by Capability Brown
6. Stroll through a Capability Brown-designed landscape at Compton Verney, Warwickshire
Be one of the first to explore the grounds at Compton Verney when it re-opens after winter on 10 February 2018. This glorious landscape, designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown in 1768, is laced with views of perfectly positioned copses, a lake and the beautiful main house – just as Brown intended. The 700-metre Ice House Coppice Circular Walk is wheelchair accessible, suitable for wet-weather use, and takes in views of the main house and the road bridge believed to have been designed by Capability Brown. Assistance dogs are allowed throughout the park and there are disabled toilets in the Welcome Centre. The house, galleries and café remain closed until 17 March 2018, except for special events. There is an event planned at the Dementia Caféon 13 February 2018. Read more about the event here.
7. Take a spin on the Coca-Cola London Eye
Did you know that the London Eye is one of the most popular spots in the capital to propose? If you’ve got marriage on your mind, opt for the private Proposal Capsule experience and pop the question at 135 metres – there’ll be champagne, chocolates and a photographer to capture the special moment.
The London Eye is fully wheelchair accessible, but book your tickets in advance as only two wheelchair users are allowed per capsule. T-loop facilities are available in the ticket hall, 4D Experience and on the London Eye River Cruise. Please note, at the time of writing the River Cruise wheelchair lift is currently unavailable, but for more details see the London Eye disabled guests web page.
For more inspiration on romantic days out around the UK, see The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain.
The Motability Scheme enables disabled people and their families to access a brand new car or scooter, by exchanging their mobility allowance to lease the vehicle of their choice. Find out more:
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Thermae Bath Spa: ©Philip Edwards www.philip-edwards.co.uk/Thermae Bath Spa
Scottish Dark Sky Observatory: ©Scottish Dark Sky Observatory
The Titanic Experience: ©Titanic Belfast
Celtic Quest Coasteering: ©Celtic Quest Coasteering
Compton Verney: ©Stuart Thomas/Compton Verney