Whitehouse Farm, Morpeth

Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Full price disabled adult, carer concession available with proof of necessity
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: Yes (booking recommended)
Accessible Toilets: Yes

I visited Whitehouse Farm on the 16th August with friends. This is one of my favourite places to go in the North East; especially with my friends who have children.

On arrival, parking is found in a gravelled car park which can be a bit tricky to negotiate in a manual wheelchair. Proof is required if you wish to get a carer in for free with you; acceptable forms include blue badge, proof of disability-related benefit, doctor’s note specifying need for a carer, etc.

I had booked the mobility scooter for the day, having tried to use my manual wheelchair on the site in the past and found it really hard going due to the terrain. There’s only one available for use so I would recommend making sure you do book it. A £30 deposit is also required for the use of the mobility scooter.

All indoor areas are wide enough for wheelchair/mobility scooter users, and I really enjoyed the petting barn. The staff members brought the animals to me so that I could take part.

The gravel path alongside the trampolines up to the Porky Parlour is really difficult to negotiate if you’re using a wheelchair or are unsteady on your feet, so this is something to be aware of. The outdoor walkway also takes you across grassy terrain so I wouldn’t have been able to do this bit without the scooter.

All in all, due to it’s nature; Whitehouse Farm is not the most accessible place and may not be suitable for some. However, it’s a place I’ve loved to visit since I was a child so I think it’s worth the effort if you’re a farm fan!

Enjoy the rather amusing photo below…

Thanks for reading!

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Centre for Life, Newcastle

My visit to the Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Blue Badge Parking: Yes, off-site

Concessions/Carer prices: Full price disabled adult, carer concession available with proof of necessity

Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter Hire: No

Accessible Toilets: Yes

I visited the Centre for Life Science Museum in central Newcastle on the 12th August. This is a place I’ve visited many times and is one of Newcastle’s most popular attractions.

Parking can be found at various points around the site, with a multi-story nearby with blue badge spaces (Times Square Car Park). It is also near to the metro (Central Station), train station (Newcastle Central Station) and many bus routes. People may find it easier to travel to the museum via public transport due to the difficulty/price of parking in the city centre.

The entrance has a bit of a slope down to it, but once you get inside the museum it is almost all very flat, making self-propelling easy. The entrance has an automatic sliding door.

The main exhibition is currently ‘Game On 2.0’, though this changes every few months. Whenever I have visited, the main exhibition space has been laid out thoughtfully for wheelchair users and I found the same on my visit on this occasion. The only issue I spotted was that the exhibition contained low lighting in places, which may make things difficult for some visitors.

The permanent exhibitions in the museum are all accessible too; and all activity stations are at a suitable height for wheelchair users. There is both a ramp and a lift available to access the upstairs area. The ramp is very long and somewhat steep so the lift may be the preferred option! There are a few stations in the museum where video is used; all of which contain subtitles.

The Planetarium and Science Theatre have shows on throughout the day and are both wheelchair accessible as well as having seating. These both have a hearing loop installed.

The 4D ride is one of my favourite parts of the museum; but it isn’t suitable for those with back and neck problems, which may be something to consider. Wheelchair users are permitted to sit at the front of the seating area. If you want to sit on the ride (which you will need to do if you want a 4D rather than a 2D experience!), you need to be able to climb up two steps and transfer into a fairly high seat. A hearing loop is also available in the 4D ride.

This is a place I’d really recommend visiting and I think careful consideration has been taken in making it accessible to all visitors.

Thanks for reading!

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland

My visit to Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens (English Heritage) in Northumberland.

Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Concession for disabled person, no carer concession available
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: Yes (booking recommended)
Accessible Toilets: Yes

I visited Belsay Hall on 2nd July with friends.

On arrival, we were able to park close to the entrance in a blue badge space. There was plenty of parking available including overflow.

I had booked a mobility scooter, which I would very much recommend doing as they only have one available. There are also a number of manual wheelchairs available for use.

If you are eligible for a concession; you receive £1 off entry. The lady at the ticket desk was very friendly and showed us on a map where the accessible routes were. It was however a bit difficult to try to remember all of that information, so providing disabled visitors with an accessible map would’ve been helpful… we did get a bit lost looking for accessible routes on a number of occasions!

The hall itself has steps at the front, but a step-free alternative can be accessed via a Radar-key locked corridor beside the tea room. Due to the nature of the building it has not been possible to install a lift so I was only able to view the ground floor rooms. You can’t take mobility scooters inside the hall, but can borrow a manual wheelchair to access these areas if you wish.

The gardens at the side of the hall are not accessible as they have steps going down into them. An alternative route above the gardens through towards the large rock garden has been paved, which is signed. There are benches along the way if you need to rest.

The rock garden and path to the castle is gravelled but was easy to travel across on the scooter. On the tougher ground, the scooter required a fair amount of arm strength to control as it was quite heavy, so this may be worth bearing in mind. Travelling from the hall to the castle involves a lot of gates, which I had to get a friend to open for me.

Overall, there are certainly some drawbacks in terms of accessibility here; particularly as the numerous gates meant that I would not have been able to visit the attraction alone. However, Belsay Hall is a beautiful spot on a summer’s day so it is still a worthwhile day out!

Thanks for reading!

Calvert Trust Kielder, Northumberland

My visit to Calvert Trust Kielder in Northumberland.

I visited the Calvert Trust Kielder for a five day holiday in June 2019 with family. This was my first visit to the trust and I wanted to share my experiences in a slightly different format from that of my usual accessibility reviews.

Accommodation:

We stayed in ‘The Bradbury’ which is one of the Trust’s wheelchair-accessible chalets. The facilities inside were brilliant: all doorways were more than wide enough for my chair to fit through, switches were at wheelchair user height and the views were absolutely incredible.

Activities:

The best part of the trip for me was getting to take part in the outdoor adventure activities they have on site. I got to do the Silver package which included the zip line, king swing and archery. For the zip line, I was attached to a rope and pulled up to the top of the tower in my wheelchair then rode the zip line in a specially-designed harness which provided ample support for my lower body. There were also harnesses available which gave upper body and neck support for those who needed it. I enjoyed the activities so much that I requested to do the king swing again later in the week and I also did laser shooting. The staff were absolutely fantastic, they made every effort to ensure comfort and safety whilst taking part in the activities. It was so liberating to feel I could do everything that an able-bodied person could do; just with a few extra adjustments!

There is also a hydrotherapy pool on site which we were able to book for one hour slots. The pool was really warm (kept between 30 and 35 degrees) and there was a hoist at the poolside as well as graduated steps and floating aids available for use. The only difficulty I had with the pool was that the changing facilities did not include a shower chair which made getting ready after swimming a little bit more difficult for me.

Overall, I had a brilliant stay at the Calvert Trust and would absolutely recommend staying here particularly if you enjoy outdoor adventure activities. If you have any further questions feel free to contact me!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre, Northumberland

My visit to Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre in Kielder, Northumberland.

Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Concession for disabled person, no carer concession available
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: No
Accessible Toilets: No

I visited Kielder Water Bird of Prey Centre on 10th June with family.

On arrival we found one blue badge space outside the attraction and plenty of other parking spaces. There are concession tickets available for disabled people and the lady on the door was very helpful.

As soon as we came in we were greeted by a member of staff who introduced us to some of the birds.

I needed help to get around the centre in my wheelchair as it is located on quite a steep hill, so I wouldn’t have been able to visit on my own and self-propel. All displays are accessible besides one small area which has a bridge across to it with a step up. The paths are tarmac; making it easier to wheel.

We watched the flying display which they put on twice per day, which was brilliant. The staff were really engaging and knowledgeable and we all got to be involved with flying the birds.

Overall I would really recommend visiting this attraction particularly if you have an interest in wildlife.

Saltwell Park, Gateshead

My visit to Saltwell Park, Gateshead.

Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Free admission (all)
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: No
Accessible Toilets: Yes

I visited Saltwell Park on 12th April with family. It’s a place I loved to go when I was growing up due to the fantastic play parks and big open spaces.

While there is no specific car park for this attraction, there are roadside disabled parking spaces by the gates.

All of the park’s paths are smooth tarmac, making it easy terrain to wheel or walk on. However, the park does contain many steep ascents and descents, which could pose a problem to wheelchair users who do not have power chairs/power attachments. I personally was not strong enough to self propel on some of these, meaning someone had to drop me off at the top of the park and collect me at the bottom. I also required assistance on some of the hills in between.

The park is really well maintained, and has lots of quiet areas to sit in which would be perfect for those who struggle with sensory issues.

There is also a cafe in “Saltwell Towers” which is wheelchair accessible and contains accessible toilets.

I’d recommend visiting Saltwell Park, as the beautiful landscapes and gardens make the hills worth it!

Thank you for reading.

Hauxley Nature Reserve, Northumberland

My visit to Hauxley Nature Reserve near Low Hauxley, Northumberland.

Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Free admission (all), donation optional
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: No
Accessible Toilets: Yes

I visited Hauxley Nature Reserve for the first time on 10th April with a friend.

On arrival, we found some accessible parking spaces nearer the entrance in the car park. It is then just a short and smooth wheel into the entrance area, where there is a small office. A very welcoming staff member greeted us and explained which paths were accessible and where the hides were. They also showed us a whiteboard where visitors can add which wildlife they have spotted in the past few days at the site.

The newly built centre and cafe are completely accessible, with an accessible toilet located next to the cafe. There are large glass viewing points inside the centre, all of which are easily approached in a wheelchair and the view is pretty impressive.

I was really surprised to find that the footpath really was accessible (often places claim to be wheelchair-friendly but then you come across huge lumps of gravel). Whilst there are a couple of slopes, it is mostly really flat and I was able to self propel for the vast majority of our wander round. If you have an attachment such as a FreeWheel, you may choose to use this so you can access some of the more grassy tracks.

Most of the hides are also accessible, though I needed some assistance with opening the door. Once inside the accessible hides there are windows at appropriate height for wheelchair users, and no bench at these lower windows so you can sit comfortably and watch the birds (picture below).

This is a place I’d really recommend if you would like a peaceful countryside escape.

Thanks for reading!