National Parks Week
It’s National Parks Week and we’ve been checking out the National Parks website for accessible activities in the UK’s most beautiful surroundings. Whilst we don’t have the space to list them all here, we’ve selected a few of our favourites from around the UK.
Brecon Mountain Railway. A narrow gauge steam train will take you through the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park on a 1 hour 40 minute trip from Pant to Torpantau. The train stops for 35 minutes at Pontsticill Reservoir, which has a level platform and views over the surrounding hills. One railway carriage has been designed to carry wheelchairs. From the booking office, an inside ramp offers access to the gift shop and platform.
Whether you want to explore the castle, discover the 18th century working water mill or just enjoy the beautiful landscape, Dunster Castle is a great place to visit. Not all areas are accessible, but there’s a very handy access statement for you to check what’s available. Visit the Accessible Exmoor website for more ideas for days out in Exmoor.
Brockhole on Windermere offers wonderful views of Windermere and the Langdale Pikes. This 30-acre, environmentally friendly arts and crafts garden offers a wide array of flora, birds and wildlife. Electric wheelchairs are free to use in the gardens. Wheelchairs are available to use indoors in the accessible visitor centre. There is an electric bus to take people with mobility problems from the car park or jetty to the visitor centre.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs
Loch Katrine is a natural beauty, surrounding by hills, mountains and woodlands. There are accessible facilities at Trossachs Pier, including the gift shop and restaurant. The road along the northern shoreline of the loch is accessible by wheelchairs. If you'd like to go further afield, you can hire a golf buggy at the pier. For a trip on the water, you can take a cruise on the wheelchair-accessible Steamship Sir Walter Scott.
Blackwater Arboretum is home to a beautiful collection of trees from all over the world. The arboretum also has a sensory trail for you to touch, smell and listen to the sounds of certain trees. The gravelled path is quite smooth and has frequent resting places, with seats and picnic tables. Accessible toilets are available in the main car park.
Whitlingham Country Park has a wheelchair-accessible path around the Great Broad. You can also book an all-terrain wheelchair from the visitor centre. If water wildlife is more your thing, you can take a guided trip on the fully accessible solar boat, Ra. Photo credit: Bill Smith, Saturday 30th July 2012 Broads Authority © 2012
Upper Derwent Valley Trail The Peak District is full of captivating history; not least the submergence of the villages of Derwent and Ashopton during the construction of the Ladybower Reservoir in the 1930 and 40s. When water levels are low, a few remains of the village can be seen. The visitor centre is a great place to begin your exploration of the Valley Trail around Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs. Whilst not all areas of the trail are accessible, adapted cycles and a mobility scooter can be booked at Derwent Cycle Hire.
There are many accessible routes around Pembrokeshire National Park, perfect for people who use wheelchairs or motor scooters, or for those with limited mobility. The Pembrokeshire Coast website provides details of 21 ‘wheelchair walks’, along with details of accessible beaches and viewpoints. Mobility scooters are provided at three of National Park sites; Carew Castle, Newport Visitor Centre and Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre, St Davids. For details of other days out, A Rough Guide to Accessible Britain is a free online guide packed with ideas and reviews.