Sometimes our local surroundings and neighbouring towns in Britain are overlooked with everyone’s hectic lives, commitments, and schedules. A fun day out in the great outdoors provides several emotional and health benefits and it doesn’t have to break the bank, it can cost as little as nothing!
Going out and discovering the natural world can be both affordable and accessible with the seventh edition of The Rough Guide to Accessible, which offers an easy–to-use resource to inspire those with cognitive and physical conditions to plan a fulfilling day out, from museums and art galleries, to scenic drives, wildlife parks and gardens. A wide range of top accessible attractions throughout the UK feature in the inspiring new guide, now in its 10th year, to encourage people with diverse needs to enjoy a family day out throughout the year.
The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain includes reviews and details of ramps, accessible toilets, and parking spaces of over 180 venues, including great free escapes such as:
- Brockholes Nature Reserve in Preston – “Nature just got closer” and stress levels just got lower. The reserve is composed of an appealing mix of grassland, reedbeds, and ancient woodland. An extraordinary pool of 134 lakes span across the venue with the largest of which boasting Brockholes’ breath-taking centrepiece: the floating Visitor Village, where you’ll find a visitor centre, shop, restaurant and other facilities. The wide range of habitats offers a home for numerous birds, bats, mammals, and insects that you can investigate from three trails. The Gravel Pit Trail, which you can do in half an hour, and the longer Reserve Trail, which covers a much larger area in about two hours, are both wheelchair accessible. Make the most of your visit by joining one of their guided walks. The car park has plenty of disabled spaces on firm, level tarmac.
- Buckfast Abbey in Devon – Take a break from the city, discover the history behind the peaceful sanctuary, and enjoy the picturesque landscape of Devon. The abbey and 3,000 year old living monastery, inhibited by a community of Benedictine monks, is cradled by the tranquil Physic Garden, Sensory Garden, and Lavender Garden beside River Dart. In 2018, the abbey celebrates its millennium, with a full programme of events throughout the year, including a new Monastic Experience exhibition. Buckfast Abbey was founded during the reign of King Canute and stood for five hundred years until Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. A community of Benedictine monks returned in 1882 to rebuild it on its medieval foundations. It wasn’t completed until 1938. In the Monastic Produce Shop you can buy the famous Buckfast tonic wine, as well as a variety of goods and consumables from monasteries and convents around the world to remember your day out.
- Horniman Museum and Gardens in London – Boost creativity and productivity by marvelling at Victorian tea merchant Frederick John Horniman’s collection of curiosities and anthropological eccentricities, on display on top of Forest Hill with glorious views looking over south London. The museum claims a selection of eclectic objects ranging from ancient Egyptian musical instruments to a Haitian voodoo altar. For a tactile experience, participate in the free interactive hands-on sessions, family workshops, short courses, and events available such as African drumming and visits to the beehive. In the surrounding gardens, visitors can also explore the botanical display garden, the Butterfly House, bandstand, pavilion, wildlife garden, meadow field, nature trail, and animal walk.
- National Galleries Scotland in Edinburgh – It’s hard to miss the neoclassical structure of the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery when out and about in Edinburgh. The gallery houses a phenomenal collection of fine art from different époques including masterpieces from El Greco, Velázquez, Rembrandt; Impressionist works by the likes of Monet, Cézanne and Degas, and Post-Impressionists such as Van Gogh and Gauguin. The buildings provide a comprehensive display of Scottish painting, with works by all the major names, including Allan Ramsay, David Wilkie and William McTaggart. Parking can be tricky in the city centre, but there are a handful of Blue Badge bays in a pedestrianised area right outside the gallery (just off The Mound). The Scottish National Gallery complex is fully accessible over all levels, and even has voice-activated lifts.
- Portstewart Strand in Northern Ireland – Two miles of glorious golden sand is waiting to be explored on the Derry coast, it’s completely free for pedestrians and only a few pounds to take your car onto the beach for an accessible seaside experience (visitors are even allowed to drive onto the sand). Stretching from the seaside town of Portstewart to the mouth of the River Bann, Portstewart Strand is a Blue Flag beach and an Area of Special Scientific Interest that was recognised in 2015 as one of the UK’s top ten wild swimming spots. Depending on the time of year, you may spot butterflies, wild orchids, pansies and thyme flourishing among the dunes, plus seals in the sea. The western end of the Strand, by the river estuary, is home to abundant birdlife, which can be marvelled from a wheelchair accessible hide.
A recent study carried out by the National Autistic Society highlighted that 98 per cent of respondents said they would be more inclined to explore the outdoors if venues and attractions were better able to support them. Simple things can be done to make days out more accessible for autistic people and their families from a welcoming attitude to having a quiet area. For the first time, The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain now also includes information aimed specifically at people with hidden conditions, such as autism and anxiety. Aiming to inspire more people to enjoy the best of Britain’s attractions, whatever their ability, the guide celebrates venues that have implemented features such as quiet mornings, picture stories or bespoke queuing arrangements.
The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain provides clear and helpful advice to highlight the very best inclusive and accessible days out for people of all abilities, an ideal planning tool for anyone with access needs. The expanded guide includes many new entries for its seventh edition including Windsor Castle, RSPB Bempton Cliffs, Monkey World, Hyde Hall in Essex, and Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool.
The refreshed guide showcases many examples of best practice, with venues large and small providing imaginative solutions to the challenges posed by disabilities. Every venue is thoroughly checked out by Rough Guides’ team of reviewers, who either have a disability themselves or visited the venue with a disabled friend or relative.
Read the full review for these awe-inspiring venues and days out recommendation in the new edition of The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain available to read and download for free online at accessibleguide.co.uk.