Amazing Wheelchair Accessible Holiday to the North Yorkshire Moors
Dec 2, 2022
I went on a wheelchair accessible holiday to the North York Moors!
Visiting the countryside has always been a favourite pastime of mine, and I say past time as I always thought that this type of getaway wouldn’t be viable for me since becoming a wheelchair user *insert cry face*, BUT – oh how wrong I was! I was totally unaware that there are SO many cool and exciting wheelchair accessible activities right on my doorstep in the North York Moors and I can’t wait to share them all with you!
At the start of the month, I went on a 3 night trip courtesy of VisitEngland to explore the North York Moors and check out accessible accommodation as well as see what wheelchair accessible activities I could get up to!
Of course, I couldn’t go on such an exciting trip on my own – so I decided to make the most of it and take my best friend Gem Turner with me to join in on the fun! I am obviously a manual wheelchair user and Gem is an electric wheelchair user, which meant it was really interesting to see what activities we could both do together and have a girly trip away, just the two of us – completely independent!
First things first, let’s talk the all important wheelchair accessible accommodation in North York Moors…
Again, this was, and always is, a huge worry of mine when considering planning a trip as it usually tends to be really difficult to find and successfully book wheelchair accessible accommodation at the best of times, let alone somewhere I’ve never been before!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are a number of venues who are working closely with VisitEngland on their accessibility improvements in order to ensure all guests feel welcome and most of all, comfortable during their stay.
We had the pleasure of staying at Well Spring Farm, which are stunning cottages set in 8 acres of breathtaking gardens and farmland. Nestled amongst the farm is the beautifully renovated Vale Cottage, which has two downstairs bedrooms and a huge wetroom on the ground floor too.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the owner, Hayley who absolutely made our stay. We cannot thank her enough for how much she went above and beyond to ensure that our stay felt like a home away from home.
Hayley assisted with all of our luggage upon arrival and gave us a guided tour of the property and a quick rundown of everything we would need for our stay. The cottage is equipped with lots of fun little quirks to keep the whole family entertained, from a huge DVD collection, to board games, to drawers full of baking equipment. You name it, they have it!
Wheelchair accessible features within Vale Cottage
Although it’s important to highlight that the whole of Vale Cottage isn’t accessible (the upstairs area), this is still the perfect option for if you are looking for a getaway for the whole family which is still inclusive for a wheelchair user. For me and our large family, this is the perfect solution that we have been looking for!
Plenty of space, smooth flooring throughout, step free access at the entrance and most importantly, a dedicated wheelchair accessible room.
Inside the accessible room, expect to find:
Huge superking bed, with the option for raisers to be added to the divan base
Full length mirror (sounds like a weird one to mention, but mirrors are a HUGE thing for wheelchair users and it is usually something venues tend to place really high and out of view!)
Lots of turning space
Smooth laminate flooring throughout (carpets are my wheel’s arch nemesis!)
Dedicated lowered wardrobe with access to hangers
Ample drawer space for storage
A large wheelchair accessible wetroom
As a manual, fairly active wheelchair user, I am used to just ‘making do’, when it comes to accommodation when booking trips away. Not only was this cottage perfectly accessible to me as a wheelchair user – but it was absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to visit again with the full family and really make use of the whole space within the cottage.
Wheelchair accessible activities in the North York Moors
Whilst on our trip, Visit England had kindly planned a huge array of wheelchair accessible activities for us both to try out! Again, this is something that I simply didn’t expect to be an option for us!
First up was visiting Sutton Bank. I’d not heard of it before, but had researched some of the views and wow – I was blown away. Here they have accessible routes and you can hire a tramper to make life that little bit easier on the arms. A tramper is a larger mobility scooter, with all-terrain wheels and a bit more power. I’d highly recommend trying one out as this made life so much easier for me!
Sunset on the moors
I forgot how beautiful our countryside truly is and this experience was absolutely breathtaking. We pulled up at the highest point and got out to explore a little and watch the sunset. Surrounded by nothing but free roaming sheep, this was a chance to take in a breath of fresh air and truly feel at peace. Both myself and Gem felt quite emotional that we were able to experience this and we just smiled in silence whilst watching the sun go down. I can’t wait to go back in the summer months and have a picnic up there in the sun!
Rydale folk Museum
We also stopped by the open air Ryedale Folk Museum which is set over 6 acres in Hutton Le Hole. Step back in time and explore over 20 different heritage buildings and discover the North York Moors across 4,000 years of history! If you are from the North East and have visited and loved the Beamish Museum, then this is one to definitely add to your list! There is an accessible toilet on site and the option to hire mobility scooters and wheelchairs for free too!
Hand bikes at Dalby Forest
Next up was the highlight of the trip – visiting the famous and much loved tourist attraction that is Dalby Forest. Dalby Forest offers a huge array of activities for both individuals and groups and I was lucky enough to try out a hand bike courtesy of Dalby Forest Cycle Hire. Here I met Rob who briefed me on the hand bike, which I’ve never had a chance to try before – so I was super excited.
They have a few different adapted and assisted bikes available – and I went for the hand bike. This had an assisted option to use throughout the many accessible trails, but I found that I didn’t have to actually use it as the trail was so flat!
This experience actually made me cry as I was so overwhelmed and happy to be doing something I never thought I’d be able to do! I am already planning a trip to go back there with the family for us all to go on a family bike ride together. How amazing! They also have two trampers available to hire as well as standard mobility scooters.
Dalby Forest Visitor Centre has an accessible toilet on site, as well as lift access and a lovely quaint cafe to grab a coffee and a bite to eat after all the fun. I highly recommend trying one of their home made cakes with a marshmallow topped hot chocolate!
Whitby Abbey Museum
The next day we headed towards Whitby to see what else we could squeeze in on our trip! First stop was Whitby Abbey Museum, which is set at one of the highest points of Whitby, offering amazing views of the harbour.
Whilst the museum was completely wheelchair accessible, we didn’t get a chance to explore the actual ruins due to its natural habitat being set on rough grass terrain. Unfortunately it had rained quite a bit and the ground was boggy, meaning my casters kept getting stuck in the mud and it was really difficult to navigate. Other than that – it was a great experience!
Whitby fish and chips
Finally, we jumped back in the car and headed down to the heart of Whitby to grab some of their world famous fish and chips and catch the sunset on the pier. Whitby has always been one of my favourite seaside towns and there were plenty of disabled parking
spots all down the pier, with flat paths and drop kerbs throughout. There was also an accessible toilet at the entrance to the pier, which was operated using a radar key and open 24 hours.
Wheelchair accessible restaurants in North York Moors
Whilst on our trip, of course we managed to find some amazing wheelchair accessible eateries, and here are a few of our highlights!
All in all, we had an absolutely fantastic experience exploring the North York Moors and it was fantastic to plan and go on this trip as two wheelchair users completely independently. It just shows that when enough planning is executed, these sorts of trips are a great option for wheelchair users.
There are so many more amazing attractions in the North York Moors, like Helmsley Walled Garden that have worked hard to improve their accessibility. We’d definitely recommend exploring some of these places too!
Have you visited the North York Moors as a wheelchair user before – and if not, will you now, now you know how we did it?
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