Devon and Cornwall provide some spectacular scenery and a wealth of attractions to suit all tastes.
By Dan Parton
For many years, fishing and farming were the two biggest industries in the counties of Devon and Cornwall, but in recent years tourism has usurped them – and for good reason. Both counties have a multitude of fully accessible attractions to suit all tastes. Here are some of the best…
The Camel Trail
The Cornish countryside is renowned for its beauty, and one of the best ways to see it is on the Camel Trail. The trail follows a disused railway line taking in the towns of Wenfordbridge, Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow. It is suitable for walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and wheelchair users.
Depending on how adventurous (or fit) you feel there are three main sections of the trail: Padstow to Wadebridge (5.5 miles) to Bodmin (11 miles) and to Wenfordbridge (18 miles). You can get to the Camel Trail by car – although note that parking in high season may be tricky – train or bus.
Elsewhere, the Eden Project is one of the most iconic attractions in Cornwall. Winner of the 2017 Inclusive Tourism Award, the Eden Project is known for its two vast glass domes – ‘Biomes’ – which house a huge range of plant life.
The Mediterranean Biome houses plants from the Med, Western Australia, Northern California and the Cape in South Africa. The second biome houses the largest rainforest in ‘captivity’. While it can get hot and humid in there, there are plenty of places to rest and an air-conditioned area in the centre.
It is fully accessible, including a changing places toilet, wheelchairs for hire and easy English, large print and Widgit guidebooks, among many other features. There are also free ‘relaxed sessions’ bookable during the summer and Christmas holidays for children with autism, learning disabilities or sensory or communication issues.
National Maritime Museum
If the weather is inclement, then the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth is a great option, especially for those with an interest in anything to do with seafaring. Set over five floors, there are 15 galleries where you can see anything from craftsmen restoring boats using traditional tools, to heading underwater to see into the bay.
While there are stairs, all floors are accessible via ramps and lifts. There are also accessible toilets and the staff have undergone disability awareness training.
National Marine Aquarium
The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is Britain’s largest aquarium housing some 4,000 sea creatures. The aquarium includes the largest exhibition of native sea life in the Eddystone Reef tank, which boasts the UK’s largest single-tank viewing panel.
The aquarium also features the Atlantic Ocean tank, which is the deepest in the UK with 2.5 million litres of water. It is home to three types of shark and three species of ray, while the Great Barrier Reef tank, which has recently added two new zebra sharks to go with favourites, Cooper the
aquarium and wheelchairs can be hired – although this is on a first come, first served basis.
Tanks are mostly low in height and some have movable steps to enable people to look over the side.
Devon also has more than its fair share of tourist attractions. Buckfast Abbey in Buckfastleigh is a working monastery of Benedictine monks with a history dating back some 1,000 years. It is also the home of the famous
Buckfast tonic wine; available from the monastic produce shop. The abbey has many things to marvel at including intricate stonemasonry, huge
The Milky Way Adventure Park
The Milky Way Adventure Park in Higher
The park features a range of indoor and outdoor attractions, from the Cosmic Typhoon rollercoaster to the Time Warp Indoor adventure play area – all designed for children and adults. The park has made significant efforts in recent years to ensure it is accessible for everyone.
For instance, everything is on one level and there is ample seating throughout, carers enjoy free entry and toilets with disabled access are available. There is also priority ride access available for people for whom
queueing is an issue. Although note that proof of disability may be required for this.
Staying in the area
If you’re looking to go self-catering, there are many accessible holiday cottages to choose from of varying sizes – and prices. A good number have full disability friendly facilities, such as
Websites such as: www.disabledholidays.comand www.handiscover.com
can be useful for comparison purposes, and not forgetting our own website:
One of our favourite places to stay in Devon is Blagdon Farm.
Tel: 01409 211140
The Camel Trail – www.cornwall.gov.uk/cameltrail
Eden Project – www.edenproject.com
National Maritime Museum – www.nmmc.co.uk
Buckfast Abbey – www.buckfast.org.uk
National Marine Aquarium – www.national-aquarium.co.uk
The Milky Way Adventure Park – www.themilkyway.co.uk