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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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.