A wheelchair travel trip to London that was very chilled. Hanging out in Hyde Park and by the River Thames. This is a mini break we had in London in August, 5 months later here is the post!
Wheelchair Accessible Room at Copthorne Tara Hotel, London
Thank you so much to Tourism For All for awarding me this prize (complimentary voucher for 1 night at this hotel) in their photo competition.
This accessible hotel is in a really great location just off High St Kensington. It’s only a 5-10 minute walk to Kensington Gardens, is near to bus routes and not far from Whole foods market, a massive health food supermarket with good access, lifts to all floors and disabled toilets. A great place to buy healthy gourmet snacks for the day out in London.
The Copthorne Tara Hotel has lifts to all floors and restaurants to suit different budgets. We had a double room with a spacious bathroom and accessible shower and sink. Loved the automatic push button doors on the entrance to the mezzanine floor and into the room itself. For more info on the accessible room facilities go to Copthorne Tara Website.
The Park – Wheelchair Access In Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens
Liberty Drives is a fantastic initiative which provides mobility, completely free of charge for anyone who finds it difficult to visit The Royal Parks due to advanced age, disability or poor health. The drivers are fully trained unpaid volunteers.
We took a free tour of Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens with Liberty Drives. What a brilliant service. We gave them a call and within half an hour they came and picked us up from where we were having lunch at the Dell cafe by the Serpentine Lake. The vehicles are electric and have a wheelchair ramp. We did have some rain showers but stayed dry under the electric buggy’s roof. Fantastic way to see the parks which are HUGE. We had a very knowledgeable driver who stopped at various monuments and gardens to give us the history of the parks. They will also drop you off at your favorite or most convenient spot at the end of the tour.
Liberty Drives welcome bookings from groups and individuals and are available 10:00 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, 1 May to 31 October. Please call in advance on 07767 498096
The River – Southbank Accessible Wheelchair Walk
The Southbank is a long car free promenade along the river Thames. After a comfortable night at the hotel, we stocked up on snacks at Whole Foods Market and had another stroll and roll in Kensington Gardens as the sun came out. We stopped by the Serpentine Gallery to use their nice disabled toilets and check out the absolutely bonkers art. Then hopped on a bus to Trafalgar Square. Walked and rolled down to the Hungerford Bridge and got the lift onto the bridge and crossed over to the Southbank. The Southbank area was made more accessible for the paralympic games and there are lots of galleries, museums, gardens and street performers which add to the festive atmosphere.
Accessible Transport In London
Wheelchair Travel By Train To London
I always arrive at the train station early and head straight to the info desk to arrange the ramp and assistance. It is better to call the station in advance to arrange your assistance. For more details see the National Rail Website. I have a Disabled Persons Railcard which saves me a third on train fares for me and my carer.
Wheelchair Travel By Bus In London
When travelling on the buses. The wheelchair ramp comes out of the double doors in the middle of the bus. Wheelchair users have priority so that mothers and buggies need to move out of the way for you to position the wheelchair in the allocated space. The back of the wheelchair needs to be against the chair rest with the brakes on. Don’t forget to tell the driver your destination so he knows which stop to activate the wheelchair ramp.
Shoreham to Worthing beach path is a very pleasant and level wheelchair walk on surfaced paths. The part between Shoreham Beach and Lancing green is especially beautiful, being right next to the beach and away from traffic noise. Plenty of parking is available at Shoreham Widewater Lagoon car park which is next to the start of the car free beach path. Entrance to the car park is on West Beach Road, Shoreham-by-Sea. From the car park there is a short slope to get up to the beach path, so a strong pusher may be required there but from there onwards its nice and flat. Rolling along first you have the artificially created Widewater Lagoon on one side and the beach on the other. The path is shared with pedestrians, skaters, dogs and children on scooters so it can get busy at weekends and during the summer months.
This traffic free route continues for 2 miles until South Lancing. Here you can continue on a shared use footpath alongside the main road for a short distance.
The car free path then returns to the beach all the way to Worthing. As you come into Worthing there are many cafes along the promenade. Radar key disabled toilets can be found at Widewater Lagoon, Shoreham (West Beach Road), Lancing Sailing Club, Lancing Beach Green and Worthing promenade.
In winter in the UK, sunshine and daylight is precious. When the sky is clear, I like to get up and out at a decent hour to catch those magical rays. At the end of November I wrapped up warm for a wheelchair bike ride on the Cuckoo Trail, in the lovely Sussex countryside.
We started at Hailsham, but next time will start at Hellingley to avoid some of the slopes. Also Hellingley is more out in the country than Hailsham. There are some slopes but a lot of long flat parts. In some places the path was wet and muddy with sludgy leaves, but its all surfaced underneath, so the wheelchair won’t sink you just get muddy wheels.
Precious Winter Light.
We only did a section of the trail back in November, so I will update this info when we have explored it further. Apparently there is a quite a steep bridge to cross at the Polegate end. At Hailsham there is a car park right next to the trail. Coming out of Hailsham the path cuts through some housing on quiet roads, but it is well signed how to get back on the trail. After that we continued towards Hellingley, there are some ups and downs but they are quite short, it’s fine if you have a strong helper. There is also a road to cross. Around the Hellingley area the trail flattens out so we continued on enjoying the countryside. We must have got halfway to Horam but had to turn back quite soon to get back in the fading daylight.
I can’t wait to come back to this trail when the daylight hours are longer.
More Info on the Cuckoo Trail
For general information on where to park and where you can access the Cuckoo Trail, take a look at this pdf : The Cuckoo Trail for walkers, cyclists and horseriders I hope this guide will include accessibility information (eg where the hilly parts are and which bits are more suitable for wheelchair users) next time they update it.
Getting ready for winter in Brighton and Hove. Here’s how I might be spending some of my time in the chillier months to come.
Winter Wheelchair Fun On The Seafront
Brighton Beach Wheelchairs
Wrapped up warm and going for a roll on Brighton beach. Winter has it’s advantages, I might even get the place to myself. The beach accessible wheelchairs are available every day of the year, and are rarely booked out during the winter. Call the Seafront Office on 01273 292716 to make a booking. They are free to use, all they require is a form of proof of I.D. and a £25 deposit.
Easy Access On Brighton & Hove Promenade & Pier
Going for wheelchair walks along the promenade. Eating chips and watching the seagulls from the Pier. There are sloping walkways down to the promenade in Brighton (may be difficult to ascend without assistance). The access to the promenade is level at the Hove end. Numerous disabled parking bays and disabled toilets (RADAR key required) can be found all along the seafront. There is level access all along the Pier and 2 disabled toilets (RADAR key available at the cafe). They also have Braille menus.
Brighton Wheelchair Bike
I will be gliding along the promenade (when it’s not raining or blowing a gale) on a Duet Wheelchair Tandem. To hire Brighton Wheelchair Bike email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring a strong person to peddle you both along the miles of seafront cycle path between just before the Pier all the way to Hove Lagoon. Booking essential. For other opportunities to hire a Duet Wheelchair Tandem in the UK go to Where To Rent a Wheelchair Tandem In The UK
Wrapped up warm and going for a roll along accessible Brighton & Hove seafront.
Accessible Brighton Wheel
I could take my wheels on the Brighton Wheel. It’s fully wheelchair accessible. Disabled adults tickets are £6.50 and disabled children tickets are £5. Carer tickets £4.
More Accessible Winter Joy
Feeding The Squirrels At St Anne’s Well Gardens
I heart squirrels. This park is a wonderful wheelchair walk at any time of year. Surfaced paths (there are slopes as well as level parts-strong assistant needed for some bits), disabled toilet (RADAR key), the Garden Cafe, fabulous kids playground, a pristine bowling green, tennis courts, table tennis, sensory garden, fish pond, lots of birdlife, beautiful trees and friendly (just don’t let them mistake your finger for a peanut) squirrels. For more on parks in Brighton & Hove, go to park disabled access info.
Access To Great Food In Brighton & Hove
Perhaps sitting by the fire at Stanmer House having hot chocolate or afternoon tea. Maybe lunch or dinner at one of Brighton & Hove’s accessible restaurants. I’m going to try some gourmet vegetarian nosh at Food For Friends (mention you’re a wheelchair user when booking so they can be ready with the ramp). I also love the tasty Italian food at Carluccios, the fabulous sea views at Alfresco and the Latin American menu at Las Iguanas. Try the links at the bottom of this post for the full list of wheelchair accessible places to eat out in Brighton and Hove.
Accessible Ice Rink At Royal Pavilion Gardens
Going for a trundle in the beautiful (and organic) Pavilion gardens or even a whizz around the ice rink! The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink is fully accessible to wheelchair users. Off-peak sessions (when the rink is quieter) are encouraged. You must be accompanied on the ice by a competent skater who may skate for free.
The Brighton Dome booking office has a fabulous push button door (makes life easy) and a lowered booking desk for wheelchair users. They have wheelchair access and disabled facilities in all the venues and “carer goes free tickets” are also available depending on availability. The Theatre Royal has some wheelchair accessible seating and a disabled toilet in the foyer. Depending on availability they also offer “carer goes free” tickets, so enquire when booking. The Duke of York Cinema, Komedia and The Brighton Centre are also fully accessible. For more accessible venues in Brighton and Hove and detailed access info on the above, be sure to check out the Fed online (link below).
Accessible Brighton and Hove Accomodation & Info
Fancy a Brighton & Hove winter wheelchair mini break? A fantastic access guide to Brighton & Hove can be found at the Fed online. There’s also plenty of helpful accessibility info at the Tourist Office or on their Visit Brighton website.
I am really excited about wheelchair bikes right now, since having so much fun being peddled around the countryside. If you’ve never had a go, I highly recommend it. So much so, that I compiled a list of bicycle hire shops in the UK where you can rent a Wheelchair Tandem near a car free cycle path.
Types of Wheelchair Bikes
There are different types of adapted cycles for people with different disabilities. My physical condition means that I’m unable to exert myself at all, so even a hand bike is out of the question. With the wheelchair tandem, once I’m on the bike I just sit back and enjoy the ride. My carer Karl is already developing thighs of steel.
Had a brilliant day on the Tarka Trail, we did 16 miles on a Duet Wheelchair Tandem!
We hired the Duet wheelchair tandem from Bideford Cycle Hire for £17 for the day. They have private access onto the Tarka Trail, it’s an unsurfaced slope and a bit bumpy. I had my strong pedaller push my wheelchair up onto the trail and then bring up the Duet wheelchair tandem. After transferring he then took my wheelchair back down to the car. Parking is free if you hire a bike. Once on the trail its a nice, smooth tarmac surface and mostly flat. We passed the charming railway carriage cafe at Bideford. Then lovely views of the estuary as we were leaving town.
There is a bit of traffic noise from Bideford to Instow but it’s still a very pleasant ride. At Instow there is a disabled toilet (RADAR key required) at the back of the car park. It’s not very far from the trail but be careful crossing the road with the Duet as it is a bit more awkward to handle than a wheelchair on turns and curbs etc if you aren’t used to it.After Instow it’s peaceful with lots on nature, birds, sheep, cows, horses, fields, estuary and marshlands. At Fremington Quay there is a cafe and a flat path along the quay with a large lawn. After our picnic on the grass we headed back the way we came staying on the car free Tarka Trail.
We arrived back at the bike hire with time to spare so we rode a mile or so towards Torrington where it is more wooded with slight gradients. I’m so glad we did, as we met a very kind lady cyclist called Sheila, who very generously offered me her copy of “Wind In My Wheels” by Josie Dew. It has a chapter about her journey from Lands End to John O’ Groats on a wheelchair tandem!
Westward Ho – Wheelchair Walk, Pier House and Beach
Despite the moody weather I really enjoyed the wheelchair walk on this coastal path. The rain had perfect timing. Just as we returned from the walk it poured down, so we went for lunch at the Pier House. The food was good and the portions large. Good wheelchair access and a massive disabled toilet too.
Since the weather brightened up after lunch, we continued the walk in the opposite direction down to Westward Ho! beach. The path which passes the rockpools becomes the promenade and is fully surfaced, wide and flat with lovely bay views. According to thispdf, Accessible Trails in Devon, there is another easy access walk nearby at Northam Burrows, but we didn’t get around to that one.
Wistlandpound Wheelchair Walk
Wistlandpound has a peaceful nature wheelchair walk circling a lake which is sheltered by woods. To access the blue badge car park you must get a gate code from reception. From the blue badge car park the path is quite smooth compressed earth and gravel. There were steeper gradients than I had expected so if you want to do the full loop a strong pusher is required. Assisted canoeing on the lake is one of many activities available here for disabled people, for more info see Calvert Exmoor Trust.
Wheelchair Access at Rosemoor Gardens
There are plenty of disabled parking bays at Rosemoor Gardens, disabled toilets and a spacious cafe with room to move in between tables. 2 trampers are available (book in advance) The surfaces are smooth tarmac paths, flagstones, compressed earth and gravel, flat brick paths and in the woods compressed earth and bark.
Part of the gardens are on a slope so a strong helper may be required for some of it. The path down to the lake is on a gradient. The earth and bark path through the woods is quite smooth with gentle slopes. The gardens are split in two by the road. The main gardens in front of the visitor centre are stunning and fairly peaceful. To access the other side there is a path that goes under the road, on this side you get quite a bit of traffic noise from the road. If you are a bit sound sensitive (as I am) you might prefer to stay on the visitor centre side.
Wheelchair Tandem at Haldon Forest Park
2 different rides on a wheelchair tandem duet in the same week can’t be bad.
We did the Discovery Trail at Haldon Forest Park which is 2.5km (1.5miles) of compressed earth, gravel and bark path (which is fairly flat and wide) through the forest with some gorgeous views of Devon countryside. There are some short slopes so you might need a strong pedaller but nothing too steep. It’s a little bit tricky with the duet at the 2 road crossings due to the narrow wooden barriers, but it does fit through. Be careful crossing the road especially if you are new to handling the duet. Back at the car park there is a disabled toilet that’s big enough for the duet to actually fit it, but only just.
Braunton to Meeth, 32 miles of car free cycling. Bideford Bicycle Hire have a Duet Wheelchair Tandem available for hire at £17 per day. Bike Trail at Fremington Quay did have a wheelchair tandem but apparently they sold it to a residential home. They have trampers now.
Cycle Experience have a good selection of all ability cycles at their New Forest cycle hire shop in Brockenhurst.
Kent – Adapted Cycles at Bedgebury
According to the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain you can hire adapted cycles at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest. Although Louise added in the comments below “ lovely forest but very hilly for a Duet or low gear bikes. We struggled a lot on the ‘easy’ trail.”
London – Special Needs Bikes in Dulwich Park
London Recumbents have the largest range of special needs bikes in England. Including the Duet wheelchair Tandem.
Somerset – All Ability Cycling on The Strawberry Line
Quench Cycles at Alice Holt Forest has a wide range of adapted cycles.
Wrexham – Wheelchair Tandem Bike at Alyn Waters
Pedal Power in Wrexham has 26 specialist bikes including a Duet Wheelchair Bike by the look of the photos on their website. They also have a special bike track which runs through an attractive part of Alyn Waters Country Park. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 9 am – 5 pm . Prices range from £3.00 to £6.00 per session
Other Places in the UK – Center Parcs
Duet Wheelchair Tandems are also available to hire at Center Parcs.
Do you know of any other places where it’s possible to hire a wheelchair bicycle? And cycle on a car free path in the UK or abroad? If so, please let me know in the comments.
Are you planning a wheelchair mini break or disabled holiday in or near Chichester?
This post is about my recent experience in and around Chichester and is full of links and info for wheelchair users.
West Wittering Beach Wheelchair Walk
Wheelchair Walk on West Wittering Beach
Great to be on the beach
Although we were staying nearby, we nearly didn’t go to west wittering beach. From photos on the net I could see that it didn’t have a promenade so I mistakenly thought that it wasn’t accessible. We went to check it out and found that we could hire the wheelchair beach buggy for free (£20 returnable deposit) and it was so much fun. It’s the first time in over 5 years that I’ve had such a great beach experience! It feels great rolling over the sand on those balloon wheels, will definately be doing this again. Behind the beach is a huge grassy area where you can park and picnic, there’s a cafe too and 3 toilet blocks with disabled facilities. The car park charges were £2 for the day for blue badge holders and £7.50 normal charge, although I think it varies with time and season.
Chichester Marina Easy Access Walk
Wheelchair Walk at Chichester Marina
Wheelchair Walk Views at Chichester Marina
Chichester Marina has a circular easy access walk, all surfaced so it was a relaxing nautical wheelchair walk. It’s quite interesting going over the accessible lock crossing, after the crossing are some benches for a rest stop, there’s even the rare chance of spotting some seals. On the way back we passed Spinnakers Cafe/Bar which has a disabled toilet.
Accessible Harbour Viewing and Easy access walk at West Itchenor.
Wheelchair Access View at West Itchenor, Chichester
Wheelchair Access View at West Itchenor, Sussex
West Itchenor has a ramp up to this viewing platform, lovely place to sit and soak up the harbour vibes. There is also a wheelchair accessible boat Solar-Heritage (Solar powered boat with lift) Check first with www.conservancy.co.uk for times and bookings as they are limited. Apparently there is a disabled toilet near the harbour office.
The wheelchair walk starts at the far corner of the West Itchenor visitors car park, where the disabled parking bays are. There are 2 gates on this walk (large enough for most wheelchairs and small mobility scooters). It is a surfaced path that leads to a secluded viewing area looking over the harbour. Peaceful, green and wonderful marshland harbour views. The path does continue on after that but it becomes a bit “all terrain” with some gravelly bits and quite bumpy.
Gate on wheelchair easy access walk, West Itchenor
Enjoying the fresh air at West Itchenor
Harbour Views on Wheelchair Walk, West Itchenor
Smooth path on wheelchair walk West Itchenor
Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve Wheelchair Walk
There are interesting views over Pagham Harbour but this wasn’t my favourite walk, I found it a bit bumpy and not very peaceful. I could hear heavy traffic noise coming from the busy road nearby for half of the walk. For more detailed info please see PDF of Easy Countryside Trails
You can enjoy a more peaceful view over Pagham Harbour at Sidlesham Quay, Mill Lane, Sidlesham just near the Crab & Lobster (wheelchair accessible) pub. There is a bench on a patch of grass next to the quiet road where you can look out over the marshland harbour.
Earnley Butterfly – Wheelchair Access = not great
Earnley Butterflies Birds and Beasts is not ideal for wheelchairs but partly doable with assistance. The place is flat, but the problem is the gravel paths. In the nearest areas to the entrance the gravel is not too deep, so with a strong helper you can see the butterflies, birds and gardens. By the time you get to the animals at the far end the gravel is deeper and could be very tiring for whoever is pushing the wheelchair. There is a cafe and a disabled toilet. Also this could be a good place to come if its raining as most of it is undercover in glasshouses.
Wheelchair Access and Restaurants in Chichester
Chichester is quite flat, with flagstones in the central part, it is actually paved but the pavestones have slightly bumpy edges. It is only a little bumpy though, apart from that it’s actually very doable for wheelchair users.
We had tasty italian food at ASK Chichester. The Wheelchair access is at the side entrance not the front. There is a disabled toilet although sometimes getting access to it can be tricky, especially when the restaurant is busy as the tables are very close to the disabled toilet entrance.
Chichester has a local produce restaurant with wheelchair access check www.fieldandfork.co.uk for opening hours and menu.
For a long list of accessible cafes and restaurants please see this very helpful booklet (available from the tourist office) with all the access info. Here’s a link to the online pdf version www.chichesteraccessgroup.org.uk
Chichester Town Centre
Sunset at Elscott Park – Wheelchair Accessible Camping
We camped at www.ellscottpark.co.uk near Chichester Marina. This is a good location for being near to some of the wheelchair walks and West Wittering Beach. It’s also a good location for going into Chichester for restaurants or shopping. There is a disabled toilet and shower. It has a low step at the entrance (it is just the door ledge) so some assistance may be required, but the facilities were very clean and the owners very helpful. Will camp here again, good value for money.
Organic Lavender Field
Lordington Organic Lavender Field 2012 open days are 4th – 8th July 2012 entrance £2.50 (goes to charity). Parking is available near the field on the farm. Wheelchair users can be dropped off very close to the lavender by car. There is a wide accessible walkway at the beginning of the field as you come in, it’s hard earth and not too bumpy, although it is on a bit of a slope. It is quite manageable to get close to the lavender with a strong carer. Lovely place to sit and soak up the lavender vibes. Cake and refreshments too.
For more info go to their website www.lordingtonlavender.co.uk
I got my wheelchair into a lavender field!
Who needs provence, when you’ve got sussex lavender
Cobnor Easy Access Harbour Walk
After the lavender field we went for a walk along the harbour at Cobnor Estate, near Chichester. This easy access path is especially for disabled people. Disabled badge holders can access the path via the private Cobnor road. There are disabled parking bays and a disabled toilet (RADAR key access). The path is mostly hard surfaced and flat. It’s peaceful and has fabulous views of the harbour.
Had pizza and pasta at Prezzo in Chichester. Wheelchair access good – step free.
I hope you found this wheelchair day out information helpful. Please feel welcome to comment or add your own accessible travel tips. Thanks for reading and have a great day out