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Don’t let a wheelchair stop you from exploring: Wheelie accessible UK breaks, from York to Belfast

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While there’s still an enormous amount of labor to be done, British cities have gotten more wheelchair-friendly (file photo) 

City breaks and wheelchairs used to make for pretty appalling bedfellows — especially within the UK.

Not so way back, ‘accessible’ used to mean little greater than an annexe hotel room with no view, access to simply the bottom floor of historic buildings and eating outside at restaurants and pubs which don’t have ramps.

While there’s still an enormous amount of labor to be done before British cities can claim to be the equal of European leader (and multi-accessibility award winner) Barcelona with regards to being wheelchair-friendly, things are improving.

Paul and Erica Crompton have been documenting the UK city break scene for wheelchair users over the past few years, and sharing their experiences on their website Hope Zine (hopezine.com).

Paul became a wheelchair user 21 years ago after a automobile accident. He and Erica have been travelling the country ever since to check and rate towns and cities for accessibility. Listed here are five of the most effective…

CHEERS FOR CHESTER

Paul and Erica Crompton have been documenting the UK city break scene for wheelchair users over the past few years on their website Hope Zine. They say that Chester (above) is one of the nation's most accessible cities

Paul and Erica Crompton have been documenting the UK city break scene for wheelchair users over the past few years on their website Hope Zine. They are saying that Chester (above) is certainly one of the nation’s most accessible cities

The primary British city to win the European Access City Award, Chester does an admirable job of overcoming its Roman limitations for wheelchair users. Even the ‘Rows’ (Chester’s unique half-timbered shops above street level) are accessible from 4 places.

One hour’s drive from Chester, the observatory Jodrell Bank (jodrellbank.net) impressed Paul and Erica by prioritising wheelchair users at its planetarium show. Carers also get free admission to the entire attraction.

STAY THE NIGHT: Crabwall Manor just outside town excels with its wheelchair-friendly spa facilities including a hoist for people to access the pool and plentiful steps and rails. Doubles B&B from £108.90 (crabwallmanorhotel.com).

GOOD OLD YORK

Paul and Erica note that York Minster (above) has a wide ramp allowing wheelchair users to get into the building easily, plus there are clean and easy-to-find disabled toilets

Paul and Erica note that York Minster (above) has a large ramp allowing wheelchair users to get into the constructing easily, plus there are clean and easy-to-find disabled toilets

One other Northern city which belies its medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture, York offers an enormous number of wheelchair-friendly attractions.

Level entrance access and lifts make the National Railway Museum (railway museum.org.uk) accessible, while Paul and Erica single out York Minster (yorkminster.org) for its wide ramp allowing wheelchair users to get into the constructing easily, plus clean and easy-to-find disabled toilets.

STAY THE NIGHT: Sandburn Hall, set amongst 1,000 acres of lakes and woodland outside York, has excellent disabled facilities, including bathrooms with adjustable mirrors. Doubles B&B from £128.20 (sandburnhall.co.uk).

BRIGHTON BELLE

This coastal city excels with regards to wheelchair access. The i360 big wheel (brightoni360.co.uk) has a ramp and lift connecting the highest of the ride with the beach level, plus convenient disabled parking with a flat subway leading on to the beach level. If you might want to hire a wheelchair, you possibly can rent one here.

For nightlife, lots of the liveliest pubs and bars have wheelchair access, including North Laine Brewhouse.

STAY THE NIGHT: The Hilton Brighton Metropole has five accessible rooms, some with sea views. Doubles B&B from £86 (hilton.com).

POWER TO PERTH

Undertake the famed Enchanted Forest walk in beautiful Faskally Wood (above) outside Perth - volunteers along the trail can help push wheelchairs in steeper terrain

Undertake the famed Enchanted Forest walk in beautiful Faskally Wood (above) outside Perth – volunteers along the trail will help push wheelchairs in steeper terrain

The historic Scottish city impressed Paul and Erica because of the accessibility of the town’s famed Enchanted Forest walk (enchantedforest.org.uk) in beautiful Faskally Wood, north of Pitlochry. It has a spectacular sound and lightweight show within the evenings. Volunteers sited along the trail will help push wheelchairs in steeper terrain.

STAY THE NIGHT: Blairmore Farm has two wheelchair-friendly cottages, with ramps between rooms. Parking is just outside the front door. From £400 for a two-night minimum stay (blairmorefarm.com).

BELFAST’S SHIPSHAPE

Take in the exhibits at the Titanic Belfast museum, which has fully accessible spaces and galleries

Absorb the exhibits on the Titanic Belfast museum, which has fully accessible spaces and galleries 

The museum dedicated to the doomed Titanic liner (titanicbelfast.com) has fully accessible spaces and galleries plus quite a few disabled toilets.

Paul and Erica were also particularly impressed by Billy’s Blue Badge Tours (touringaroundbelfast.com) where a black cab takes visitors across the Peace Wall and the murals of the Falls and Shankill Road. The cab is large enough to take wheelchairs inside itself somewhat than packing them into the boot.

STAY THE NIGHT: The Belfast Holiday Inn right in town centre has 14 wheelchair-accessible rooms. All public areas are wheelchair-friendly, too. Doubles B&B in an accessible room from £72 (ihg.com).

  • Examine Paul and Erica’s wheelchair adventures, plus find suggestions and advice at hopezine.com.
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