05 Apr Sun, Sand and Wheelchairs
When summer is approaching, thoughts quickly turn towards the beach. Britain’s beaches have been popular for both daytrips and long-stays since Victorian times. It was during this time that ‘taking sea air’ was promoted for its healing properties and health benefits.
Though visiting some beaches can be difficult for many people with disabilities – obstacles range from stairs onto the beach to the uneven surfaces of the sands – the good news is some UK beaches are improving access for people with disabilities.
The experience can be improved by having level access, the availability of all-terrain wheelchairs and access mats. Access mats, a relatively new product, have been developed to enable wheelchairs to access beaches. The mats are made from slip-resistant, rigid material and retail from around £30.
Here are some of the most accessible beaches in the UK:
- Dawlish Warren, Devon
Devon’s Dawlish Warren Beach is known for its prominent spit, with not only a beach but also an attached nature and wildlife reserve. All areas of the beach and nature reserve are accessible, with facilities for people with disabilities also provided.
- Langland Bay, Gower Peninsula, West Glamorgan
This Welsh beach is one of the principality’s most accessible. Langland Bay was also the home of one of the UK’s first surfing scenes, with the sport popular there since the 1960s. The beach is entirely accessible to all, with all-terrain wheelchairs available to hire.
- North Berwick, East Lothian
Little more than half an hour away from Edinburgh lays North Berwick beach, a golden stretch of sand popular with locals and visitors alike. The beach is renowned as one of Scotland’s most accessible, with local volunteers running a beach wheelchair hire scheme, catering to both adults and children.
- St Mildred’s Bay, Kent
Just down the road from historic tourist resort Margate, St Mildred’s Bay offers disabled facilities and disabled access to the beach. With the local train station less than ten minutes from the seafront, St Mildred’s Bay is one of the easiest beach resorts to access via public transport. London is around an hour and a half train journey away.
- Druridge Bay, Northumbria
Situated in one of the North East’s favourite national parks, Druridge Bay is also one of the region’s best accessible beaches. Facilities include good surfaced paths leading down to the front as well as an accessible visitor centre.
- Maenporth Beach, Cornwall
Maenporth Beach is truly one of Cornwall’s hidden gems, with a fiercely dedicated local following. The beach is easily accessible, with disabled facilities including a café, toilets, and parking.
- Bournemouth, Dorset
The beach has accessible cliff lifts and land trains, which are exempt from pier tolls for wheelchair users and carers and can also be accessed via tarmac.