Here are some places that i have visited
which have or haven't been accessible
Hope you find these useful.
London September 2006
- When I went down to London to appear on This Morning, I was given free travel down there, and put up in a hotel for the night. I was quite skeptical as the arrangements for travelling were made at such short notice. My first problem was finding an accessible taxi, the local company did have a minibus with a tail lift, but it wasn’t really big enough for my wheelchair, with the length being 58inches. The flaps on the front and back of the tail lift did not close up enough to be totally safe, though I managed. Thankfully on the return journey from the train station they sent a bigger minibus that was totally accessible. Initially I thought I was going to have problem with the train despite ringing Virgin see link: Virgin to confirm that my chair would fit. I knew that the length would be a problem she had arranged to take this on separately. Upon getting to the station was told that my wheelchair did not conform to regulations and that it wasn’t an electric wheelchair! How silly, what the eck is it if its not a wheelchair? However I stood my ground and explained what I was going to do and managed it though there wasn’t enough room to place my wheelchair in the exact point that is designated for a wheelchair. I did manage sideways and didn’t really block people too much from getting past. However first class would hopefully provide a slightly bigger space for someone with a wheelchair the same length of mine or bigger. At a guess I would imagine that the average size wheelchair would be able to manage in this spot easily.
- The taxis in London were surprisingly suitable, most black cabs have portable ramps that can be placed up to the door to enable a wheelchair to sit inside; I even managed with the length of my chair. However one criticism is that if there is anyone with you it is a tight squeeze for him or her to seat in beside you. The hotel was the Grange City Hotel see link: Grange City Hotel, however this was not very accessible, even though it was lovely inside. The lift up to the room was fine no problem at all, the door to the room was wide enough and quite spacious inside. However the let down was the bathroom, all that was adapted comprised of a few handrails next to the toilet and around the bath area. There were no pull down handrails beside the toilet, the shower cubicle did not pull back all the way so there was no way of accessing that if I had wished to. With help I did manage a shower by sitting on the edge of the bath! However the big let down was the floor in the bathroom, it was made of marble which of course would not be non-slip when wet, making it very dangerous for anyone let alone someone using crutches or any walking aid. There is only the restaurant on the upper level that is accessible to those with limited mobility. The other one is located down some steps. However even though there is a lift up to the restaurant it is one of the glass types that close behind you and yet again my wheelchair was too long to fit in. So I had to go up on my own and then for my wheelchair to follow after. The staff were however as accommodating as they could be a wavered the price of room service so that we could eat breakfast in the room. So despite its lovely location it isn’t the best in terms of access for those in a wheelchair.
YORK SEPTMBER 2006
York as a city is accessible to most wheelchair users, considering it is an historic city with lots of old buildings. However in terms of accommodation the only place that I could find that had level access or some kind of lift into the hotel was the Royal York Hotel, see link: Royal York Hotel The disabled rooms are located on the lower ground floor, and are accessed by a separate entrance, so once inside you do need to go up in the lift to the reception to check in. The lift is your standard lift size, which for me and anyone with a wheelchair longer than 58inches would be a very hard squeeze. The rooms are very extensively adapted; the rooms are large and spacious, with wide doors and beds low enough for transfer. Plus having enquired about all the accessible rooms they also provide double-bedded rooms, something that is not often found when booking such accessible rooms. The bathroom had a totally non-slip floor, with a bath with rails, a toilet with adjustable rails and a walk in/roll in shower, with an adjustable shower seat with arms and handrails. Also the shower had rails around it to aid getting up and sitting down. The staff were helpful in terms of seating at breakfast or dinner, although the prices are very expensive, and you also have to pay for parking, and no concessions for the disabled. The parking spaces for disabled customers are few, with only at a guess around 6 in total and some of these did not have extra room to enable the doors to be open fully if someone is parked at the side of you.
The visitor attractions at York are pretty good depending on what you want to see. The jorvik Centre is ok, see link: jorvik. There are concessions and your carer goes for free, however the lift to get down to the attraction is slightly small, I had trouble fitting in comfortably, again anything longer than 58inches wouldn’t be able to fit in. Once down at the attraction there is a museum and mock up streets that are accessible, but the ride through the other mock up streets where there are interesting sights and smells, this isn’t accessible. Unless you can get out of the wheelchair and sit in a seat, or place the wheelchair in a especially designed slot, then you wont be able to use this facility, however please make sure you get the dimensions of the ride wheelchair space when you ring to book, as I wasn’t given this and had to miss out on the ride.
York Minster was very accessible, a ramp up to the entrance, and level access in the main area. See website at: York Minster there is a charge to go in, but concessions are available for disabled guests, I even got in for free! There are certain areas such as the Tower and the Undercroft and Crypt that aren’t accessible to wheelchairs and you do pay a lesser price due to this. Though arrangements can be made for those with more mobility to access these areas. Other areas are accessed by ramps and there is a disabled toilet, though it is very tight for space. For those guests with hearing or sight difficulties there is ‘A Touch and Hearing Centre includes a tactile model of the Minster with audio tape commentary and a Braille guidebook’ Plus ‘Induction loops are located throughout all the main ground floor areas. Leaflets and service sheets are available in large print. With notice, occasional guided tours can be arranged for visually impaired visitors’.
- York Castle Museum is well worth a visit and again we got in for free, although there is usually a charge, with concessions, see link: York Castle Museum They have recently installed a new wheelchair lift that isn’t the best in my opinion. The lift is only a certain length so would recommend that you ring beforehand to make sure your wheelchair does fit. The reason I'm saying this is that I had to get out of my wheelchair and go up the lift on my own and then for my wheelchair to follow after. So anyone who is confined to a wheelchair, its best to check out before. Once in there isn’t a large area to walk around though what there is makes fascinating viewing, a reconstruction of the Victorian streets of old. Though it can be very dark at times, so anyone with a visual impairment please contact beforehand. There are some areas that are quite narrow and I did get my wheelchair stuck so if your wheelchair is wider than 25 inches then please take care. The upper level isn’t accessible to anyone in a wheelchair or with limited mobility as yet.
- We also did a Ghost Hunt of York with a guided tour, please see link: Ghost Hunt. This was extremely accessible and I was accommodated along the walk, with the guide showing me were to sit in my wheelchair to get the best view. No booking is necessary but if you do have limited mobility and don’t use a chair you may need to mention this to the guide either on the night, or my advice would be to email or phone them in advance with your preferred date, so that arrangements could be made.
- Having only spent a couple of night in York I didn’t get to eat in many places. Though access was a small problem due to steps up to many places. Though one place that was very accommodating was the Slug and Lettuce. They did move around tables so that we could eat on the ground floor rather than going up to the non smoking part, which despite having a ramp the angle was too tight to get up there. The menu was good with choice for meat eaters and vegetarians too. There was also a disabled toilet on this ground floor. See link if you want more information: Slug & Lettuce
- One last thing, beware of the cobbles! It’s rather bumpy if using a wheelchair!
- If you are considering going to York then please contact the tourist information on: +44 (0)1904 550099 for further information and a brochure. Or see this link: York Tourist Information
On the way back from York, we visited a place called Camp Eden. This was a prisoner of war camp and housed Italian and German prisoners from May 1942 to April 1948, see link: Eden Camp Here you can take a tour through all different huts displaying different aspects of wartime. Every hut is accessible as is the mess (cafe) gift shop and they have a disabled toilet too. There are loads of parking, a few disabled bays, and is value for money as it takes at least 3 to 4 hours to go round.