ACCESSIBLE DAYS OUT IN THE SOUTH WEST
Are you looking for a disabled-friendly day trip?
Limited mobility can be challenging when planning a great day out in Dorset, Wiltshire, or surrounding areas, as finding a suitable venue or location can take as much time as the outing itself.
Thanks to suggestions from our wonderful customers and social media followers, we have compiled a list of accessible places to visit. We were overwhelmed by the response and we hope this is the first in a series of Accessible Days Out guides. Feel free to tag us on Facebook when visiting any of the destinations listed below. Enjoy!
Christchurch Quay, Dorset
Christchurch Quay is just a stone’s throw from the bustling town centre and hugs the bank of the River Stour. The 11th-century priory and the nature reserves of Stanpit Marsh and Hengistbury Head provide a stunning backdrop, which is loved by all who visit.
The Quay hosts several seasonal events each year. For example, Classic Cars on the Quay, Smooth Jazz, Stompin’ on the Quomps, and the acclaimed Christchurch Food Festival, which we personally recommend.
The unique park has excellent accessibility. Christchurch Town Council say they are committed to making the site accessible to all, and it shows. Whether you use a mobility scooter, wheelchair, rollator, or any walking aid, enjoying Christchurch Quay is easy. Should you need to sit down, seating is plentiful and allows visitors to enjoy the landscape in comfort.
Boat hire may seem like a pipe dream for folks with limited mobility, although Christchurch Quay has solved this problem. Wheelyboats hire wheelchair accessible boats which allow visitors to experience the beauty of The Quay from the water.
Address: Quay Road, Christchurch BH23 1BU England
Telephone: 01202 022479
Stour Head, Wiltshire
The world-famous Stour Head is enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year, thanks to its central lake, classic temples, and beautiful grottoes.
When Stour Head opened in the 1940s, a magazine described it as a ‘living work of art’, and we’ve tried to capture this in our Ludwell showroom, thanks to Stour Head ‘wallpaper’ that covers an entire wall. However, we couldn’t recreate the 2,650 acres of chalk downs, ancient woods, and managed farmland.
Stour Head is a great place to visit year-round, especially towards the end of August as the North American Maple begins to turn a scarlet red, heralding the start of the autumn season. The Japanese acers, hornbeam, and chestnuts, also put on a vivid display. The Tulip trees take on a yellow hue while the oak and beech finish off the season with their bright oranges in late October.
Accessibility is excellent making it a perfect candidate for this list, thanks partly to the disabled parking and toilets. There are marked routes that are wheelchair accessible, although some routes in the garden include sections of rocky and steep descents, which may be unsuitable unless you have an all-terrain wheelchair or scooter.
A limited number of mountain trike wheelchairs are available to hire on a first-come, first-served basis, which is a great way to experience the views. You can find a complete access guide to Stour Head Gardens here (it can also be seen in the gallery to the right if you’re on desktop and below if you’re on mobile).
Address: near Mere, Wiltshire, BA12 6QD
Telephone: 01747 841152
Hours: Garden and car park 09:00 – 17:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)
Moors Valley Country Park, Dorset
Moors Valley is a 1000-acre park with beautiful views and an assortment of outdoor activities, making it the perfect venue for a family get-together or a day out with the grandchildren. Should you be looking for a child-free destination, the waymarked footpaths and cycle routes (wheelchair bikes are available to hire) allow you to enjoy woodland, meadows, lakes, and rivers. You could take a picnic or enjoy a freshly cooked meal at their restaurant.
Accessibility is excellent at Moors Valley, thanks to 13 disabled parking spaces. Their website states that Rangers (in the visitor’s centre, approximately 100m from the car park) will be happy to discuss the best routes for your specific needs. Many routes are suitable for mobility scooters, and they also have a cross-country mobility scooter for hire.
Address: Moors Valley Country Park, Horton Road, Ashley Heath, Dorset, BH24 2ET
Telephone: 01425 470721
Hours: 08:00 – 18:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)
Brownsea Island, Dorset
Brownsea Island is located in the beautiful Poole Harbour and provides stunning views across the Purbeck Hills. The island is a unique haven for wildlife with many flourishing habitats, including woodland, heathland, and a lagoon. A wide range of wildlife can be seen on the island, including the rare Red Squirrel and various birds, including Dunlin, Kingfishers, and Oystercatchers. There are also many picnic spots and a natural play area, making it an excellent option for taking children.
Accessibility at Brownsea Island is excellent if you have an all-terrain wheelchair or scooter, although, if you don’t own one, all-terrain wheelchairs are available for hire. Pre-booking is essential – please call 01202 707 744.
Getting to the island is easy, and the Seahorse landing craft provides wheelchair access to the island. Once again, pre-booking (on the number above) is essential. Assistance dogs are permitted, and there are accessible toilets. The complete access guide to Brownsea Island can be found here.
Address: Poole Harbour, Poole, Dorset, BH13 7EE
Telephone: 01202 707744
Hours: Boat Service 10:00 – 17:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)
Durlston Castle and Country Park, Dorset
Durlston Castle and Country Park, located just a mile from Swanage, is an incredible 320-acre countryside paradise. There are many things to see and do with stunning views, walking trails, the historic Great Globe, stunning geology, fascinating wildlife, and Durlston Castle. The castle, designed by Weymouth architect G.R. Crickmay and built by W.M. Hardy has been beautifully restored.
Durlston Country Park aims to provide the highest level of access possible, and they have produced videos to show how to arrive and negotiate the park. The video can be seen below. The castle is situated just 75m from the car park, and there are always friendly staff available to help if needed. The doorways are wide, and there are platform lifts throughout, making the castle easy to navigate. There are also accessible toilets located around the castle. Less mobile visitors can also hire one of two tramper scooters, providing access to all routes at the Country Park.
Address: Durlston Country Park, Lighthouse Road, Swanage BH19 2JL
Telephone: 01929 424443
Hours: Open all year round from sunrise to sunset
Here is a video from the Durlston Castle and Country Park youtube channel that give you a step by step guide to getting into the park if you are disabled. Its a great video that will give you peace of mind before you go.
Monkey World, Dorset
Monkey World is an internationally acclaimed ape rescue centre in Wareham. Opened in 1987 to give abused European chimpanzees a permanent home, the site is now a sanctuary for primates worldwide.
The park is home to 22 species of Monkeys and Prosimians, and daily keepers’ talks provide a captivating insight into the park’s inhabitants and their life at the park. The 65-acre park can also be seen on the ‘Monkey Life’ and ‘Monkey Business’ TV shows.
Most of Monkey World is accessible for disabled visitors except for the Woodland Walk, which has uneven ground. The paths around Monkey World are mainly tarmac, though a few areas have bricks or flagstones, which can be uneven in places. Manual wheelchair users may need a hand at specific points, but powered wheelchair users and scooters should be fine throughout the park.
There are several disabled parking spaces next to the entrance kiosks, with toilets and wheelchair access close to the entrance and the Gibbon Enclosure. A full access guide can be found here – https://monkeyworld.org/wp-content/uploads/Accessibility-Guide.pdf.
Address: Monkey World, Longthorns, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 6HH
Telephone: 01929 462537
Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)
Here is a video from the Monkey World youtube channel that gives you an idea of what the sanctuary is like and gives you a taste of what you’ll experience on this amazing day out.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Dorset
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens is a eutopia of beautiful plants and trees that seemingly transport visitors halfway across the world to a tropical country. The garden is world-famous for its camellia groves and magnolias.
Facilities include a coffee shop, gift shop, and a plant centre where many flowers grown in the garden can be purchased. A stunning view of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast can be seen from the top of Magnolia Walk, which is reason enough to visit.
Like other venues on this list, disabled parking spaces are available in the front row of the car park. These parking spaces are just 50-metres from the entrance to the gardens. Also, those who can show documentary identification of disability (blue badge, etc.) can take a carer free of charge.
The paths in the gardens are gravel, and they can be steep in some places. However, there is a recommended wheelchair route that still showcases the critical areas of the gardens. There are disabled toilets available at the rear of the coffee shop.
Address: Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Buller’s Way, Abbotsbury, NR Weymouth, Dorset, DT3 4LA
Telephone: 01305 871387
Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)
Here is a video from the Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens youtube channel that, similarly to the Monkey World video, gives you an idea of what the gardens are like and gives you a taste of what you’ll experience on this mesmeric day out.
Lyme Regis Seafront, Dorset
Lyme Regis is a pretty seaside resort situated on the Jurassic Coast. The quaint town has beautiful beaches, breath-taking scenery, fascinating history, and a picturesque harbour. There are plenty of activities, attractions, and events to keep you entertained.
Accessibility around the town is good; you’ll enjoy all the beautiful views without going on to the beach. However, should a coastal visit feel empty without a trip along the sand, beach wheelchairs and a floating wheelchair are available, free of charge, from the Town Council. If you’re brave enough to take a dip in the English Channel, nothing will hold you back.
Lyme Regis also has a step-free route to the seafront, as indicated by various signs. The route is 550 metres long and provides incredible views. If you are a blue badge holder, parking is available on the seafront. More information can be found here – https://www.visit-dorset.com/lyme-regis/visitor-information/accessible-lyme-regis/.
Address: Lyme Regis, Dorset
Telephone: 01297 445175
Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire
Salisbury Cathedral is regarded as one of the leading examples of early English Gothic Architecture, with the main structure being completed in 1258. At 404 feet (123 m), the spire has been the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom since 1561.
The Cathedral is located in the heart of Salisbury, which provides visitors with seemingly endless food & drink establishments, although a standout option is the Refectory Restaurant. It has stunning views of the spire through its glorious glass roof and is open year-round. Here, you can enjoy a selection of delicious cakes, sausage rolls, deli sandwiches, and hot and cold drinks.
The Cathedral’s main entrance has level access and there is a permanent ramp. If you use a wheelchair, you can easily access the cathedral floor, Chapter House, Cloisters, the Refectory Restaurant, shop and toilets. There are also three free wheelchairs available; speak to someone at the welcome desk to borrow one.
Large print versions of visitor maps are available, and if you have an assistance dog, you can find water near the Refectory Restaurant entrance. Disabled parking can be found in Cathedral Close at a fixed price of £8 per day.
Address: Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2EF
Telephone: 01722 555150
Hours: Summer hours – Mon-Sat 10:00 – 17:00 Sun- 12:30 – 16:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)
Longleat is the seat of the Marquesses of Bath and is notable for having the first safari park to be constructed outside of Africa, which remains the star attraction for most visitors.
The majority of the park is drive-through, meaning accessibility isn’t a problem. The monkeys are particularly mischievous, but this should be experienced at least once, especially if travelling in someone else’s car! However, the monkey enclosure can be bypassed if you want your car to remain intact. The park has a wide variety of other animals, including lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and zebras.
Longleat House and Safari Park work hard to make all of their attractions as accessible as possible. Many of their interests are wheelchair friendly, with the Jungle Cruise and Longleat Railway offering wheelchair access. Ramps are used for boarding, and designated seating can accommodate up to 4 wheelchair users per boat. However, there is only one specially adapted carriage on the railway, so availability may not be as frequent as the cruise. These are just two examples of accessible attractions at Longleat.
Accessible toilets can be found at the Safari Drive-Through, off the Main Square near The Sweet Shop, close to the Jungle Cruise, in the Cellars Café, and The Chameleon Tree Restaurant. There are also fully accessible restaurants and cafes so eating won’t provide any problems either. Finally, wheelchairs and scooters are available to hire at Longleat. For more information, call their Guest Services Team on 01985 844400.
Address: Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW
Telephone: 01985 844400
Hours: 10:00 – 17:00 (Visit website for more up to date times)