From the coast of Northern Ireland to the southern shores of England, the UK has plenty of spectacular sights connected by over 200,000 miles of road. With more and more attractions and hotels making moves to become disability friendly, taking a road trip and exploring the country for a few days makes for a great break for disabled drivers and their families.

By Gary Buswell

Having a car is a huge benefi t to disabled people. Disabled motorists spend a great deal of time getting their vehicles specifi cally adapted, choosing from over 500 adaptations so that they are able to drive safely and comfortably. Driving means retaining independence and not having to rely on public transport with the associated access issues and erratic timetabling. It also means the ability to travel with a greater amount of luggage, so longer trips can be planned.

Here, we look at a selection of great disability friendly road trips that are sure to create lasting memories, including details of where to stay and what to see on the trip.

East Scotland Coastal Route – Edinburgh and Fife

Scotland is world-renowned for its beautiful scenery. Filled with lochs, mountains, castles and not forgetting beaches, it makes a great setting for a road trip. The Scottish Highlands are spectacular but are fairly limited in terms of accessible attractions and accommodation in more remote parts. An easier to plan and just as rewarding option is a section of the east coast, taking in Edinburgh and Fife.

Edinburgh has a range of accessible sights and experiences but it’s worth including a short road trip around the Kingdom of Fife to enhance your Scottish experience. If you’re starting off in Edinburgh, you can cross the Forth Road Bridge or travel further west to use the Kincardine Bridge and savour the beautiful Firth of Forth coastline. Then carry on along the east coast through the Royal Burgh of Culross and the fishing towns of East Neuk and St Andrews for a trip of around 100 miles in total.

There are many accessible attractions you can include, such as Edinburgh Castle, Royal Botanic Gardens, Scotch Whiskey Experience, Kirkcaldy Galleries and the British Golf Museum in St Andrews, plus suitable accommodation options in both Edinburgh and Fife if staying for a few nights. The best times to go are probably around May/June or September/October, when the weather is still mild and it’s less busy. Avoid Edinburgh in August, unless attending the Fringe Festival or the Military Tattoo.

National Trust for Scotland –

Southwest England’s Atlantic Highway

This 170-mile stretch runs from Barnstaple in Devon to Newquay in Cornwall and can be the breath-taking backdrop to a break lasting anywhere from a couple of days to a week or more. The route roughly traverses the coastline of the south west, taking in quaint seaside towns such as Bude and Padstow as well as picturesque Cornish villages.

If you head down in the summer months, you can enjoy the beaches that dot the coastline. Many of the beaches are accessible and have all-terrain wheelchairs available for hire. Other potential highlights include cream teas in Bideford, some of the finest fish and chips anywhere in Britain, and an excursion to Exmoor National Park which has accessible areas, or Dunster Castle where you can hire an all-terrain Tramper. There’s also the option of travelling on to Land’s End, the very tip of mainland Britain.

For those planning longer road trips, there are quite a few accessible accommodation options in both counties, including 5-star luxury lodges at Cornwall’s Gwel an Mor resort. Summer months are the best time to go in terms of weather, but you’ll need to book early and be prepared for things to be busy.

If you have a few days to spare for a beautiful road trip that takes in diverse magnificent scenery, you won’t find anywhere better than Wales. You can explore the country south to north in a journey of around 200 miles. Starting off with the famed 22-mile journey over the Black Mountain Pass – taking in views of the Brecon Beacons and the Tywi Valley – you can then head west towards Pembrokeshire National Park which has wheelchair paths and easy-access beaches.

From here, you can follow the west coast route that will take you through the coastal towns of Aberystwyth and Aberaeron and onto Snowdonia where you can enjoy more incredible scenery and stay in one of the region’s many accessible mountain hotels or cosy farm cottages. Don’t forget to visit Caernarfon Castle, one of the most disability-friendly attractions in the UK with free entry for disabled people and carers, before leaving. Any time between March and October is ideal for the trip, again avoiding the mid-summer months if you don’t want crowds.

Northern Ireland’s Causeway Route

Ask any seasoned road tripper what the best way to travel Northern Ireland is and they will doubtlessly reply with the fabled Causeway coastal route, a 120-mile stretch from Belfast to Londonderry. Visual delights to look out for include the Glens of Antrim, the Binevenagh cliffs, and of course, World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway, a mystical assembly of 40,000 basalt columns.

For Game Of Thrones fans, there are two filming locations to spot – Antrim’s Dark Hedges and Ballintoy Harbour. Interesting journey stops include an RSPB reserve in Rathlin, where birdwatching enthusiasts can check out guillemots and puffins, as well as the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery in Antrim. The building and facilities are accessible, however the guided tour is not suitable for wheelchair users.

Depending on which way you do the route, you can start or end the trip with Belfast. Northern Ireland’s capital is a vibrant city with a diverse culture, plenty of accommodation options and accessible attractions including Titanic Belfast.

Journey Through Yorkshire

An alternative to coastal trips or travelling the length or breadth of a country is to take a weekend out to just explore the wonderful winding roads of somewhere like Yorkshire. This picturesque northern county has everything from ancient cities to rugged moorland to seaside resorts and is great to visit all year round. In the car, you can journey along the stunning Buttertubs Pass, a moorland route between Wensleydale and Swaledale, and shuttle between market towns such as Grassington and Helmsley.

There are also many accessible attractions, such as Whitby Abbey which has smoothed-out paths and slopes plus disabled parking, and Castle Howard which is mostly accessible. For a place to stay, you can’t beat York. This historic walled city is one of the most popular places to visit in the UK and has accommodation options including 5-star hotels and selfcatering cottages.

What to see…

Many of the destinations, scenery and coastline are conserved by The National Trust and English Heritage. For more ideas about where to go and what to see, visit:

National Trust

English Heritage