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!

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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!