Trying to plan accessible days out on your holiday can be a hassle and involve lots of research – which venues are accessible? Do they have suitable toilet facilities? So we’ve done the work for you - if you are staying in South East Cornwall or South West Devon, here are some great ideas for accessible things to do in the area!
1. Hire a Tramper from the brilliant Countryside Mobility. These marvellous little mobility-scooters-on-steroids let you get out and about all over the South West, from National Trust houses to South West Lakes Trust lakes, and the South West Coast Path. Whether you’ve broken your leg, or are a full-time chair user, the Carlsberg of mobility scooters takes you to parts that other scooters cannot.
2. Pay a visit to Siblyback on Bodmin Moor – part of the South West Lakes Trust, there is a gorgeous 3.2 mile walk around the lake, on a graded track that is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. There is a Tramper for hire here, and they also have a Wheelyboat for hire (a wheelchair accessible boat) so you can get out on the lake.
3. If the weather isn’t great (in Cornwall – surely not!) then head to the China Fleet Country Club for a swim and a spot of lunch. It’s in a fabulous riverside setting with great views of the river Tamar. It’s fully accessible, and they have a water wheelchair and ramp for the pool. One guest reported “The staff were brilliant. I was able to go swimming for the first time since my stroke. As I used to be a big swimmer, this was quite a milestone for me. I had a big grin on my face for the rest of the holiday!"
Float around or have fun in the China Fleet swimming pool.
4. Head to Cardinham Woods - a 650 acre site of productive mixed woodlands owned by the Forestry Commission. There is a cycle hire centre and a 7.2km way-marked cycle trail, and a fantastic café which does great food and tempting treats (including vegan and vegetarian). The trail is designed for family groups and is mostly gentle gradients. There is disabled access to all the facilities (café etc), and many of the trails are suitable for wheelchair access.
5. See the fish at The National Marine Aquarium, in Plymouth, which is the biggest in Britain and the deepest in Europe. It has over 4000 different types of sea creatures, from sharks to the world's largest collection of seahorses. There is a walk-through tunnel and a giant coral reef tank, and Britain’s only specimen of the giant squid! The Aquarium is fully wheelchair accessible, with accessible toilets on site.
The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth.
6. Sample some gin – the Plymouth Gin Distillery, which is the oldest working distillery in England, does several brilliant gin tours, from the basic 40-minute tour, to the Gin Connoisseurs tour (1 ½ hours) to the Master Distiller’s tour (2 ½ hours). They also do a mean cocktail in the Grade II* listed Cocktail Bar. The distillery has level access and accessible loos.
Sample some gin in the fabulous Plymouth Gin Cocktail Lounge.
7. Meet some woolly monkeys - the Monkey Sanctuary near Looe has been home for over 30 years to a colony of woolly monkeys. They also have rescue marmosets, macaques and capuchin monkeys. The sanctuary is an environmental charity, and the monkeys have a specially designed territory of interlinked enclosures set in beautiful woodlands overlooking Looe bay. There are disabled parking bays in the car park. Accessible loos available in the car park (but not in the sanctuary itself). Not all parts of the sanctuary are accessible. Please ask about discounted rates for guests with limited mobility.
8. Wear the kids out at Trethorne Leisure Park. Trethorne has 45,000 square feet of indoor soft play structures and animals. These include a 4-storey ball blast arena, rope bridges, slides, tunnels, ball pits, trampolines, bungee runs, go karts, mechanical climbing wall, astra slides and freefall slides and much more (including an 8-lane tenpin bowling). There are opportunities to milk cows and brush miniature ponies, and there are always animals such as alpaca, goats, pigs, chickens etc which can be stroked. The majority of the facilities are accessible, and there are accessible toilets.
Soft Play at Trethorne.
9. Take in some history at a National Trust house – we are lucky enough to have several nearby, including Cotehele – one of the finest Tudor houses in the country, which is only 4 miles away; and the splendid Antony House, with its Repton Gardens (this is where Tim Burton’ Alice in Wonderland was filmed).
Cotehele House (photo courtesy of National Trust).
10. Eat! A good start would be an all-day breakfast at Louis’ Tea Rooms, on Kit Hill – with panoramic views over the Tamar Valley AONB and set within the Kit Hill Country Park (wheelchair accessible with accessible toilets). Have lunch at the lovely Blue Plate in Downderry, with its artisan coffee, homemade sourdough and seafood grill. Then maybe a spot of supper at the award-winning Cornish Arms in Tavistock – classic combinations – with big hearty flavours. The bar is dog-friendly (but not the restaurant), and it is fully wheelchair accessible, with accessible toilets in the restaurant.
All words by Beth Bailey of Kernock Cottages, South East Cornwall. Premier Cottages has over 150 luxury holiday cottages in Cornwall, and over 100 in Devon, which you can view by following the links below.