With beautifully worked countryside, the UK has everything that you could ever want to make a domestic vacation – or ‘staycation’ memorable. We look at examples representing the broad set of options available.
One of the best things about a staycation is that you’ll immediately have a head start. You’ll know about the language, the food and the culture before you begin and even, later on, if there is an unforeseen problem, you’ll probably know how to sort it out or be able to get help in doing so. Staycations offer a low risk vacation style with the promise of lots of fun.
As with all holidays, you’ll probably get the most out of a staycation if you do a little preparation before you go. As many disabled people have found to their cost and frustration, ‘accessible’ means different things to different people. It’s always best to phone the manager of your accommodation provider, be it a hotel, B&B or holiday park to clarify exactly what you’ll need during your stay and ascertain whether or not they’ll be able to provide it. Disabled guests aren’t rare these days but it doesn’t hurt to try to give people a sporting chance of getting things the way you like them.
The four major items on your list should be: access, toileting, washing and sleep. You need to know that the facilities are appropriate, comfortable, dignified and safe before you make any decisions and certainly before you part with a deposit.
Obviously you don’t want to be contacting more than a handful of accommodation providers so you can use comparison websites as well as information provided by tourist bodies (who do a lot of work in campaigning for access) such as Visit Scotland, Visit England et al. Their use of pictograms (symbols denoting services and facilities available) will really help to turn a wide choice into a selection between the two or three most appropriate places.
There are, of course, different options to select from, depending on your budget and the sort of vacation you’re aiming to enjoy.
Stay in a Static Caravan
Holiday company, Haven, have a range of specially adapted and accessible caravans, suitable for disabled people, including wheelchair users and guests with guide dogs. Because all impairments and disabilities are different, Haven has a team of specially trained advisors who will listen to your individual requirements and talk you through every aspect of your booking to help you to plan and get the most out of your holiday.
Tel: 0800 072 9496
Why Not Go By Canal Boat?
CanalAbility is a charity dedicated to working with community, youth and family groups, especially those with disabled people.
They offer weekend breaks where families can enjoy the experience of exploring the Rivers Stort and Lee, through the Essex and Hertfordshire countryside. It’s an active holiday where everyone can get involved with steering and operating the locks, or can choose to just relax and watch the world go by.
Longer holidays can be arranged to take people to London from where they can access the Grand Union Canal. If you prefer a rural idyll you could visit the historic towns of Bishop’s Stortford and Hertford and the beautiful rolling countryside in-between.
CanalAbility operates three purpose-built, fully centrally heated and accessible broad beam boats enabling everyone to take a full and active part in the boating experience all year round.
People with impaired mobility and wheelchair users are able to join in the fun since each boat has a lift and other adapted features such as a disabled toilet and wet room.
Whilst the remote countryside lends itself to true adventure, you might, depending on your needs, choose to camp outside a local town which you can rely on for buying food items and the use of local amenities such as cafes and restaurants – unless you want sandwiches or barbecues for every meal. (If you do choose to camp, you will need to ask the landowners permission before setting up.) Generally speaking, it is far easier to use a dedicated campsite where there will probably be some form of facilities available for washing and toileting.
Different accommodation types
A good halfway house between full accommodation and camping is a relatively new idea: ‘glamping’. This is where you’ll still be able to stay in tented accommodation but with the relative luxuries of built in plumbing and hard floors – making them suitable in some cases for wheelchairs users. Naturally, these cost much more than a simple camping pitch but there’s real value in being able to relax properly rather than worrying about the conditions. You are, after all, on holiday.
MORE: UK Camp Site (Search through the Disabled Facilities tab.)
Here are a few of our favourite Staycation accommodation providers:
Bluebell Croft, Strontian, Scotland
Visitors to Bluebell Croft come largely to relax and take in the stunning scenery although some return specifically because they and their children enjoy experiencing life on a working croft where you can do as much or as little as you like.
Strontian is a quiet, sleepy village, located on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and, through the recent formation of the Strontian Community Company, is proud of its role as a guardian of the local woods and rivers.
The National Nature Reserve at Ariundle is just a mile or so away, and Strontian is located in the middle of the Sunart Oakwoods initiative area. The Forestry Commission maintains and develops the remains of ancient oakwood that are found in Lochaline to the south, and all along the south-facing shore of Loch Sunart, from Strontian to Salen.
The peninsula as a whole is a fascinating place to explore, with remote sandy beaches, lochs to fish and hills to roam. You will never be far from a view of the sea. At Kilchoan there is a small ferry to Mull, and at the end of Ardnamurchan you’ll find the lighthouse, which marks the most westerly point on the British mainland.
The cottage and house are equipped to the highest possible standards to allow easy access and a comfortable, stress free holiday for all.
Both Honeysuckle House and Rose Cottage have parking immediately outside and ramp entry into the porches. Guests can wheel themselves around the house and cottage onto the patios using the ramp and sit beside the hot tub to enjoy the view, in fact both buildings have wheel-in showers and the downstairs bedrooms are rated as ‘Category 1’ or for unassisted wheelchair access.
Other features include height adjustable shower/commode chairs which are fixed (not wheeled), toilet raisers and bed/chair raisers and an ‘upright’ easy chair can be put in the accommodation.
The kitchens have several implements with larger, easy to use handles, although the worktops are at normal height (meals can be cooked by special request).
This could be an ideal retreat to drive to in an adapted car.
Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest, Cumbria
Whinfell Forest in Cumbria makes for a fantastic setting for this Center Parcs complex. The forest is a great place for wildlife watchers and nature lovers, so there are magical moments in store, especially when you catch sight of the red squirrels (or if you’re really lucky, the badgers).
The even better news is that with so many other diversions, sports and activities taking place indoors, the weather can do little to spoil your enjoyment. The impressive glass covered village centre is a lively focus for a variety of activities and there’s plenty of live entertainment in the Green Room.
Center Parcs provides well equipped self catering lodges so you can choose what to eat and when, although of course, there are eating choices on site too. Whilst Center Parcs isn’t specifically designed to be accessible, most of it is in keeping with a wont to provide a holiday experience for young and old. To this end you’ll see that the vast majority of public areas are accessible and that there are more than a few activities that disabled people can take part in and special requirements can always be discussed. For example, there are a limited number of three wheeled, adapted cycles for hire and the Activity Den is accessible for disabled youngsters. A hoist and transit chair is also available for use in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise.
Because many of the lodges are for use by fairly large groups, there are often bedrooms and bathrooms on the ground floor and some of the lodges come complete with wetrooms as well.
The West Shore Hotel, Llandudno
Livability is the UK’s largest Christian disability charity running a wide and diverse range of services for disabled adults and children helping them to reach their full potential and develop their independence. This includes a fully accessible hotel in Wales.
The West Shore is situated where the twin limestone peaks of Great and Little Orme meet in Llandudno, the so-called Queen of Welsh resorts. Within easy reach of the hotel are the breathtaking Snowdonia National Park, the historic Isle of Anglesey, and Conwy Castle. Llandudno is a genteel town with two fine beaches.
The hotel’s 18 rooms (two doubles, nine twins, six singles and a family room) have all of the usual features you’d expect and all are ensuite. The hotel is graded 3 stars by Visit Wales and has TFANAS Category 1 status.
Features specifically included for disabled people include: emergency call points, wheel-in showers, overhead and mobile hoists, facilities for hearing impaired people, oxygen hire, scooter and wheelchair hire and electric adjustable beds.
If you’ve enjoyed a staycation recently, we’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org