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Clachtoll beach

Six of the best accessible days out in spring

The arrival of spring means longer days at last and more chances to get out and about in your Motability Scheme vehicle. Here are six top accessible picks for a great day out in the fresh air. There is something for everyone, whether you’re a music-lover, a fan of the great outdoors or someone who loves messing about on water.

1. Take a sporty family day out

Tourists at Watchtree Wheelers

How about a sporty accessible day out in Carlisle?

Watchtree Wheelers is an inclusive cycling project based at Watchtree Nature Reserve, near Carlisle. A bike is a great way to explore the reserve and the open views, especially given the big collection of regular and adapted bikes available to hire. You might choose an adapted bike or a trike, or get cruising low on a handbike or a KMX kart, closer to the hares and stoats in the hedgerows. This is an affordable day out for all the family with beautiful, open views of the Cumbria countryside.

There are more than 50 inclusive cycling locations nationwide. To find one near you, see the comprehensive directory provided by Cycling Projects, a national charity that promotes cycling in the UK.

Need to know:

Cycle hire at Watchtree Wheelers is open to all ages and knowledgeable instructors are on site to help. Rates start from just £2 for members.

2. Take it slow on a canal cruise in Hertfordshire

Accessible canal barge

Enjoy the English countryside on a canal boat in spring

A day trip or short holiday on a canal boat is a wonderful way to enjoy the English countryside in spring. You could gather a group of family or friends and charter a boat along the River Stort with Canalability or Lee and Storts boats. Both companies offer day trips and longer cruises on canal boats that are fully adapted for access and participation. Sit back and enjoy the view while a qualified skipper steers the boat, or get involved and learn the ropes to navigate through the locks. You can either head out of town passing idyllic rural scenery or venture into Central London to Regents Park or Olympic Park. Various providers around the country also offer accessible canal boat holidays, such as The Bruce Trust on the Kennet and Avon canal and the Lyneal Trust on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.

Canal barge

Need to know:

A short cruise with Lee and Storts costs from as little as £8 (concession), £4 (children). A half-day Canalability charter costs around £180 for the whole boat, including a fully qualified skipper and crew.

3. Welcome spring with a festival

Band on stage at a festival

Have you considered an accessible day out at a festival this Spring?

Spring sees the start of the UK’s festival season. The Liverpool Sound City Music Festival (25–28 May 2017) takes place at Clarence Docks in the historic Liverpool Waters area and has a great mix of sounds, from The Human League to Metronomy and The Kooks. Most music festivals take place in summer so to plan ahead see Music Festival News for a list of the most accessible.

For something a bit calmer, check out The Bath Festival – a brand new multi-arts festival for 2017 (19–28 May 2017). The event takes place in venues around Bath and celebrates the heritage of Bath, with music and talks by big names in literature and the arts.

If you’re passionate about food, don’t miss the Great British Food Festival, which kicks off a tour of the country with an event at Stoneyhurst College in Clitheroe, Lancashire (21–23 April 2017).

Need to Know:

Liverpool Sound City: Tickets start from £45 but carers get in for free. There is a ramped disabled viewing area located at the main stage, but book before 31 March 2017, as spaces are limited.

The Bath Festival – see the festival website for access information. Ticket prices vary for each event.

Great British Food Festival – ticket prices start at £8 adult; carers go free. See website FAQs for access details.

Finally, see www.thefestivalcalendar.co.uk for more ideas.

4. Explore Scotland’s rugged northwest coast

The drive through the northwest Highlands of Scotland, along the North Coast 500 from the coastal town of Ullapool to the village of Lochinver has inspiring views of other-worldly mountains, sea lochs and the ruins of Ardvreck castle on Loch Assynt. At Little Assynt and before dropping down into Lochinver, an “all abilities” path offers a great opportunity to explore the breathtaking scenery up close.

A carefully graded wheelchair-accessible pathway (approximately one mile long) meanders through the heather and wild land to two lochs, an accessible picnic area, a shelter and a compost toilet. There are regular resting places along the way. You can also go fishing in the loch: two boats are accessible via the path with priority for disabled anglers.

Need to know:

Following the All Abilities path requires no advance arrangement. For fishing, contact the Assynt Angling Group in advance (Peter Hendrich, 01571 844076) for a permit, key and access to the jetty and accessible fishing. A fishing permit costs £5 a day, and weekly or season passes are also available. For further information and boat-hire prices, see the Assynt Angling Group website.

5. Admire spring flowers in an English country garden

Trebah Garden, near Falmouth in Cornwall is a BBC Countryside Garden of the Year Nominee for 2017: a sub-tropical valley garden paradise with a beautiful coastal backdrop. It’s particularly stunning in spring with a colourful array of 100-year-old rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias. The Trebah Kitchen, Gallery and gardens shops are all fully accessible on wheels, and literature about the gardens is available in bold and large print.

Need to know:

You can bring your own scooter or wheelchair, but two motorized Tramper wheelchairs are available and enable exploration of up to eighty percent of the gardens and steeper sections (book in advance). Dogs are welcome in the garden and on the private beach. Admission costs £10 for an adult in summer, but it’s half price for anyone with a disability and their carers.

6. Enjoy a great day out at a National Trust property

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Estate near Ripon, North Yorkshire is one of the National Trust’s recommended “best spring garden” venues. Park at the accessible Westgate entrance and follow the path around the river, lakes and the water gardens. The lakeside café offers access to refreshments in a beautiful setting before you visit Studley Royal Deer Park. If exploring the abbey appeals, there is ramped access to key parts of the ruins, although the upper footpaths and many steps of Fountains Hall are not so friendly.

Need to know:

Mobility scooters, wheelchairs and sighted guides are available at National Trust locations, but book in advance if required. Disabled visitors pay a normal admission fee or membership, but there’s free entry for companions or carers. To save asking for free entry every time you visit the National Trust, you can apply in advance for an Access for All Admit One Card. For more about concessions, see nationaltrust.org.uk.

To enjoy these great days out to the full, check the websites for opening times and information, and for further details on accessibility and booking mobility equipment or assistance in advance.


Image credits

We would like to thank the following individuals, companies and picture libraries for their kind permission to reproduce their photographs:

Canalability 3: British Waterways

Canalability 4: British Waterways

CircaWaves_Soundcity2016: Liverpool Sound City/Andy Hughes

Clachtoll beach, lochinver, Scotland: pixabay

Watchtree Wheelers: Watchtree Wheelers/Ian Watson

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