Land of cheddar cheese, Banksy and lush rolling hills, the west country has given us a lot to be thankful for. And with tons of history, culture and scenic countryside to discover, it’s one of the top accessible places to visit on a short break.
Watch Rosie Jones as she discovers the West Country as part of her Mission:Accessible series with Channel 4.
And find out more about the locations featured, as well as few extra things to do in Bristol and the South West, with our handy guide…
Please note: There are varying restrictions in place across England to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Please be sure to check our Know before you go page as well as individual attractions’ websites before travelling.
For a memorable day out in Somerset, head to Brean Down – a dramatic natural pier overlooking the Bristol Channel. With rare plants, feral goats, a Roman temple and the second-largest tidal movement in the world, there’s lots to discover. Despite the uneven pathways, Brean Down is easy to explore with the all-terrain mobility scooters you can hire from the visitor centre. With the ability to traverse grass, puddles, slopes, mud and sticky-out tree roots, the trampers can help you make the most of this National Trust park.
Grab your mates and give your throwing arm some practice at Whistle Punks in Bristol city centre. This axe-hurling venue is proud of its inclusive ethos, that makes sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in this unique activity. Whistle Punks’ managers not only receive deaf-awareness training, but the venue holds specific sessions for wheelchair users, those with mobility challenges and people with visual impairments. Book in advance to make sure you and your group get your own exclusive lane, an instructor who will be able to show you the ropes and enough pizza to feed a village. But the question is, will you hit the target?
Push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of on a journey through the dramatic Mendip Hills. Donning a boiler suit, helmet and head torch, and accompanied by caving expert, Marcus, you’ll descend into hidden caves to explore life underground. With years of experience of working with people of different abilities, Marcus is able to tailor caving routes to the group, so everyone can have their own slice of adventure, whatever their needs. And there’s no need to rush – you can take your time navigating the passages, figuring out what climbs and squeezes you can and can’t do. You can even slide down slopes on your bum if you need to!
Located on Bristol’s historic Harbourside, the M Shed museum tells the story of Bristol – where objects, recollections and art from its rich 2000-year history hope to inspire conversations about the city’s future. Travelling back in time isn’t a chore here either, as there are lots of accessible features in place that cater to a range of different needs. There are handy designated spaces at the nearby Grove Car Park and all the museum’s entrances are step-free. Inside, there are three wheelchair-accessible lifts with spoken announcements and tactile buttons, and you can even hire folding stools to take with you around the galleries if you need a portable seat.
Climb aboard one of the most important ships in the world, designed by Brunel, one of Britain’s greatest engineers. Alive with sights, sounds and smells, this nautical masterpiece will give you a glimpse into its past voyages and the people who lived and worked on board. To make sure all visitors have the best experience possible, the Ship, Dry Dock, Dockyard Museum and Brunel Institute are fully accessible to wheelchair users, and there are alternative access points that miss out any cobblestone paths. And while some cabins may be a bit of a squeeze for standard wheelchairs, there are specially designed chairs on hand to help you explore every nook and cranny. There’s also a tactile model of the SS Great Britain to help blind and partially sighted visitors discover all corners of this historic ship.
Meet alpacas, skunks and Highland cows, and many more animals at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. Almost all the viewing areas can be accessed with a wheelchair, and the Elephant Eden play area even has a wheelchair-accessible roundabout. The farm also has a loud announcement system and there are plenty of visual aids (like high-contrast signs and painted picnic tables) to help you get about. There are accessible toilet facilities too, including one with a hoist and adult changing bed. Before you visit, download the zoo’s accessible map for a suggested plan of how to spend your day and don’t forget to stop for a cuddle with the rabbits and guinea pigs.
Round off your trip to the West Country with a stay in one of the region’s accessible accommodations. Vibrant Double Gate Farm, in Godney, has multiple fully accessible rooms, all with emergency call systems next to the beds. As part of an independent assessment by the National Accessible Scheme, Double Gate Farm is rated suitable for older and less mobile guests, part-time wheelchair users and assisted wheelchair users. Many of the staff have had disability awareness training too, meaning there’s always someone on hand. If you like a bit more privacy, then the tranquil Lakeview Holiday Cottages may be more up your street. The two wheelchair-accessible bungalows are spacious and contemporary, with lowered kitchen worktops and wet rooms. And, as the name suggests, the lodges overlook 12 acres of lake and countryside, helping you truly escape the everyday.
Please note: While the attractions listed in this article have achieved good levels of accessibility, please be sure to make your own checks and inquiries directly with the attractions before travelling to ensure your individual accessibility requirements can be met. You can also find independently assessed accessible accommodation across the country and further ideas and inspiration in the Access for All section.