19 November 2018
5 accessible winter getaways in the UK
The UK may not be the most obvious choice for a winter break with many people opting to go on holidays abroad to escape our unpredictable weather.
The UK, however, is a beautiful place to explore during this time of the year and there are lots of benefits to holidaying here. For those of you with mobility issues and who need to use aids such as stairlifts at home, holidaying in the UK over the winter means less hassle than it would be going on a break abroad as you won’t have to worry about going to an airport or ferry terminal.
There are so many destinations you can visit during the winter months, but here are five of the most accessible winter getaways in the UK.
The Lake District is a popular holiday destination at any time of the year, but during the winter months, you can enjoy the undisturbed wilderness without the crowds.
There are lots of popular places you can visit with the likes of Lake Windermere, Coniston Water, Derwentwater and Ullswater attracting many visitors.
Accessible attractions in the Lake District
Lakeland Motor Museum
Located in the Cumbrian village of Backbarrow, Lakeland Motor Museum is one of the regions most popular heritage attractions.
Attracting over 1.5 million visitors since opening its doors back in 1978, the museum now boasts a collection of more than 30,000 exhibits, including more than 140 classic cars and motorbikes.
The vehicles and artefacts are all set in the context of a time-specific period and these include the 1920s garage and 1950s café scene, flanked by period shop displays and insights into the early days of motoring in the English Lake District.
The world’s biggest-selling cars like the 110-year-old Ford Model T, high-performance cars like the TVR and a Delorian (the car made famous by the time-travelling Back to the Future trilogy) are all on display at the museum.
The Lakeland Motor Museum isn’t just about cars though, with visitors able to find out about the local history of the area through toys, models and souvenirs.
In terms of accessibility the museum has step-free, level access and in the reception area, there is a low counter suitable for wheelchair users. There is a wheelchair available for loan, seating available around the attraction and there are accessible toilets available.
Lake District National Park
England’s largest national park is now a World Heritage Site and is home to Scafell Pike - England’s highest mountain and Wast Water – the deepest lake in the country.
It should come as little surprise that the Lake District National Park is a perfect place to visit during the winter. What makes the park so great is the fact it is so accessible.
There are routes suitable for wheelchairs or for those who find walking a challenge with 42 Miles Without Stiles routes across the National Park.
At the Coniston Boating Centre, there are electric wheelchair accessible boats available that have been specifically adapted with movable ramps to accommodate up to six wheelchair users.
The Scottish capital is amongst the world’s most beautiful cities and no matter whether you have mobility problems you can still enjoy Edinburgh’s history, heritage and culture.
The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but it combines centuries of history with its famous Royal Mile, where you’ll find the modern parliament building next to the prehistoric extinct volcano known as Arthur's Seat.
Eleanor Bally, an External Communications Officer for the National Galleries of Scotland, says Edinburgh is a great place to visit during the winter months.
“Edinburgh is incredibly busy in the summertime – with festivals and events taking place all over the city. Winter is a little quieter with traditional Scottish events like Hogmanay (30 December – 1 January) and Burns Night (25 January) warming up the chilly nights.”
Accessible attractions in Edinburgh
Regarded by many as one of the most exciting historic sites in Western Europe, Edinburgh Castle is ideally located in the heart of the capital.
The castle is a must-visit for anyone visiting the city and Elizabeth Martin, Security & Control Manager at Edinburgh Castle, tells us why.
“In winter, views of Edinburgh from the Castle are beautiful. There are also guided tours available throughout the day and visitors can see living history performers at the Castle during winter months.”
Most of the castle is accessible to visitors with mobility problems, according to Elizabeth Martin, “The majority of the buildings are accessible for people with mobility issues. The Mary Room, Argyle Tower, Military Prisons and the Vaults of the Prisons of War are not accessible for a wheelchair due to stairs. Access to the Queen Anne Tea Room is via the north door for wheelchair users.
“Blue Badge holders can park on the Esplanade. Taxis can also drop visitors off on the Esplanade. A mobility car service is available to transport visitors to the top of the Castle as well as take them to areas that they may have difficulty walking to. There are four disabled toilets on site.”
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is another accessible attraction you can visit and here you can come face-to-face with the people who shaped Scotland’s past and present. The gallery is in one of the city’s most iconic buildings and can be seen amongst the city’s skyline.
Visitors who struggle to walk long distances will be pleased to hear that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is accessible. Eleanor Bally is from the National Galleries of Scotland and told us about the accessibility of the gallery.
“There is step-free access to the main door of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and a lift in the building enabling access to all gallery floors – there is no need to call in advance for a general visit.
“There are two wheelchairs available for visitors to borrow and a charging point for mobility scooters and battery powered wheelchairs. Café staff are ready to assist with placing orders and carrying trays in the café.
“The drop off point for disabled visitors is in the one-way back lane behind the Portrait Gallery. This is accessed from North St David Street. Visitors are requested to press the buzzer on the second door along the back of the building (labelled Groups Entrance) and a member of staff will come and greet them. Cars (but not larger vehicles) with blue badges are permitted to park in the back lane as long as they avoid access points and fire exits (which are marked with double yellow lines). The nearest designated parking bays for blue badge holders are on West Register Street and St James Place. These are a 5-8 min walk to the Portrait Gallery.”
From Scotland’s capital to Wales’ capital! This port city is picturesquely located on the south coast of Wales and is home to a variety of unique attractions and top-class entertainment.
Cardiff is quite compact with it being spread between an ancient fort and a modern waterfront, but now many visitors come here to enjoy the top-class shopping, enjoy the thriving pubs and bars or to explore the nearby valleys and coastline.
Accessible attractions in Cardiff
Here you can explore Cardiff’s historic heart as the castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions. Situated within the beautiful parklands in the centre of the city, Cardiff Castle is home to 2,000 years of history.
Some of the highlights you can see during a visit to the castle include the Roman Fort, the Norman Keep and the wartime shelters. You can also learn about The Bute Family, who used to own the castle and turned the city into the world’s greatest coal exporting port, and William Burges, an architect who played a leading role in creating the castle’s gothic towers and their lavish interiors.
The castle is really accessible as there is accessible parking for Blue Badge holders, the grounds are flat, the entrance steps have handrails to help visitors with mobility issues and the Interpretation Centre is fully accessible to wheelchair users.
The Castle Apartments are not accessible for wheelchair users as there are spiral staircases, but the house tours can be adapted for visitors with mobility problems.
The Principality Stadium
The Principality Stadium plays host to a variety of top sporting events, concerts and other events. The Wales Rugby Union team play their matches here and a number of top international acts perform here, including the Spice Girls, Coldplay and more.
If there are no events during your visit you can instead go on a stadium tour and explore parts of the venue you would never normally see.
During these all-access tours, you will learn about how the stadium has become an iconic attraction in Wales, find out about the pitch and its retractable roofs, which makes the Principality one of the world’s largest indoor arenas in the world.
The stadium is also really accessible as the Principality Stadium is close to the city centre and has level plazas with no steps and no ramps. There are also lifts within the venue to take fans to other areas of the stadium, accessible toilets and disabled parking spaces outside the stadium.
Cornwall is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations for a reason as there are lots of things you can do. Maybe a gorgeous garden one day, visit a huge tropical biome the next or head to some of the world’s best beaches.
Some people may think the county is best to visit during the summer months because of the variety of beaches on offer, but it is a great destination to visit any time of the year. In winter there are lots of places you can head to on your holiday.
Accessible attractions in Cornwall
This sub-tropical paradise can be explored via four miles of footpaths and with its vibrant tunnels, exotic blooms and secluded beach, Trebah Garden is one of the most beautiful places in Cornwall.
The garden can be visited year-round and during the winter months, visitors can see the spectacular champion trees dominate the landscape and see the plants from the southern hemisphere flower.
The garden is accessible with the car park boasting nine disabled parking spaces for badge holders. The kitchen, gallery and garden shops are fully accessible as well.
Dubbed by some as the eighth wonder of the world, the Eden Project is a global garden housed in tropical biomes that have been built in a crater near to St. Austell.
From 2011-2015, the British Travel Awards voted the Eden Project as the Best Leisure Attraction. Here visitors can experience the smells and sights of the rainforest in the Rainforest Biome and then travel to the Mediterranean Biome.
The fact the Eden Project was crowned the winner of the Inclusive Tourism Award by Visit England in 2017 just shows how accessible this world-famous attraction is. There are accessible parking spaces and toilets, personal assistants get in free, there are manual and powered wheelchairs available for free and for visitors with hearing or sight problems information is available in large print, Braille and audio formats.
With romantic castles, acres of parkland or fascinating museums, there’s lots you can do in North Yorkshire over the winter months.
The region offers visitors the chance to rejuvenate themselves with some bracing winter sea air as you can discover a whole host of different attractions and quaint fishing villages.
Accessible attractions in North Yorkshire
Captain Cook Memorial Museum
The Captain Cook Memorial Museum is located in a 17th-century house on Whitby’s harbourside where the famous James Cook lived as an apprentice. Here Cook trained as a seaman and built-up the maritime skills that would see him become one of the most iconic captains at sea and leading his crews on epic voyages of discovery.
At the museum, you can see a variety of fascinating displays including Cook’s letters, models of his ships, the attic where he lived and paintings from artists who went on of Cook’s voyages to the South Seas.
The museum is now as accessible as it has ever been with wheelchair users having access to the ground floor and the first floor via a specially installed lift. There is also a park and ride facility to the museum on A171 approaching Whitby from Teeside and disabled parking spaces at close-by car parks in Church Street and West Cliff.
There are accessible toilets as well as ramps and handrails in the museum to help visitors with mobility problems.
This historic house is another great place to visit this winter as there are landscaped gardens to explore as well as the house and its ornate interiors to look at.
Inside Castle Howard friendly guides can tell you the different stories about the house and the family and the monumental landscape outside, including the lakes, statues and fountains. There is a land-train that can take visitors around the grounds, cafes, shops, a garden centre and the Yorkshire Arboretum - a 120-acre garden of trees from around the world.
The castle is one of North Yorkshire’s most accessible attractions with lots of parking for blue badge holders, land transport carriers between the ticket office, house entrance and lakeside and flat pathways.
There are also ramped doorways and paths for wheelchair users and a wheelchair lift inside the house to take visitors to the main floor of the house where all the rooms are accessible apart from the Chapel and High South room. Accessible toilets can be found in the house as well.
There are lots of places you can visit in the UK this winter and here are 5 of the most accessible places:
Image Credit: michael clarke stuff (flickr.com)