Britain has over 10,000 miles of coastline and plenty of fabulous sandy beaches to explore, but these 5 great beaches are the pick of the bunch for disabled travellers – featuring the best golden sand, glorious sunsets, clean blue seas and great wheelchair access.
If you’re planning a trip to the UK, grab your bucket and spade and get set for a beach holiday with bags of traditional seaside charm and a great stay at an accessible bed and breakfast. The UK has some excellent B&B accommodation – the stereotypes of net curtains and stuffy rules have been exceeded by classic style, luxury and top personal service. Nothing could be more perfect for a relaxed, enjoyable and memorable beach holiday for travellers with disabilities!
1. Summerleaze Beach – Bude, Cornwall
Summerleaze is a beautiful stretch of sandy coastline in Cornwall, dotted with fabulous dunes and close to Bude Canal. There’s also a natural sea pool in the bay for safe paddling under the watchful eye of the lifeguards.
Situated close to the town centre, the Council car park is conveniently nearby with direct wheelchair access to the beach and disabled toilet facilities. Level tarmac car park leading directly onto the beach. The tarmac path becomes sandy as you go down the path and hit the beach. Approximately 500m from the car park to the water (but this would vary with tides!). In the summer season (May – September), a disabled sand chair can be hired in person or booked over the phone (t. +44 (0)1288 352226) from the Summerleaze Beach Office in exchange for a deposit and a nominal daily fee. You can even take the chair to other beaches on the Cornwall coast if you want to explore further afield!
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, The Treglos Hotel in Padstow may suit your needs. The hotel has rooms on the ground floor adapted for wheelchair users with facilities including roll-in showers with seats.
2. Skegness Beach – Skegness, Lincolnshire
On the East Coast, the award-winning Skegness beach sits proudly on the edge of Lincolnshire. The miles of shoreline radiate quintessential British summer holiday charm, with candy floss, donkey rides and ice cream galore.
Featured in the Good Beach Guide for three years running, Skegness has gone to great efforts to make their beautiful sandy beach accessible. The flat esplanade leads to the beach from Skegness town. There are several walkways (either pavement slabs or tarmac) straight onto the beach and plenty of access for disabled visitors. The tarmac, flat and level car park meets the sand and is approximately 250m to the water’s edge (tides may lead to this varying but not by a long stretch). Good disabled access and adapted toilets are now standard for most of the Lincolnshire coastline, but sand chairs are also available at Skegness Beach (t. +44 (0) 845 674 0505) to hire for £20.00 per day from the local tourist office at the Embassy Theatre.
Clarendon Lodge is situated just yards from the beach in Skegness and features accessible twin or double ground floor rooms with wheel-in wet rooms, shower seats and grab rails. They also work closely with a local mobility hire company and can arrange for special equipment to be delivered in time for your stay if needed.
3. Bournemouth Beach – Bournemouth, Dorset
Bournemouth is renowned for its seven miles of award-winning golden beaches. Nestled beneath the cliffs, the famous beach has a microclimate and some of the warmest waters in the UK. On a clear day, you can even see across to the Isle of White.
Bournemouth has exceptional accessibility for wheelchair users. There are fully accessible cliff lifts and land trains providing access to all areas of the pier and beach, and these lifts and trains are also exempt from pier tolls for wheelchair users and one caregiver. The land trains can be taken along the promenade which runs parallel with the beach. This is also flat and tarmac so provides easy access to the beach and to the pier. Distance from the promenade to water approx. 75m. Disabled parking and toilets are readily available, along with sand wheelchairs from Bournemouth Beach Office (t. +44 (0)845 055 0968, e. firstname.lastname@example.org).
The latest addition to this accessible beach is the UK’s first set of dedicated accessible beach huts for hire in the peak season (May – September). The huts feature enough space for up to four wheelchair users, an adapted shower, a patio area and disabled toilets.
Just back from the Bournemouth coastline, the cosy and comfortable Silver How Hotel might suit your needs for an overnight stay. The B&B has level access to their ground floor en-suite room, dining and sitting rooms, whilst the en-suite features a level access shower with a seat and grab rails.
4. Torre Abbey Sands – Torquay, Devon
The English Riviera constantly tops the charts for the best beaches in the country, with an impressive array of awards and a beautiful coastline. In the heart of the English Riviera lies Torquay and Torre Abbey Sands. Featuring a promenade and some of the finest seafood restaurants on the south coast, Torre Abbey is the perfect spot for a summer holiday.
With good disabled access to the beach, pier and promenade plus accessible toilets and sand chairs available for hire, the golden sands of Torre Abbey Beach (t. +44(0)870 70 70 010, w. www.theenglishriviera.co.uk ) are truly accessible and suitable for all travellers. Level car park approximately 250m from the beach. Access is level from the car park and then via a light slope down onto the sand. From the car park to the water is around 3 – 400m.
The perfect place to stay in the area is Crown Lodge, a smart and warm B&B with friendly hosts. The B&B has been recognised by the National Accessible Scheme as suitable for both part-time and assisted wheelchair users with two en-suite ground floor rooms to choose from. The ground floor double is suitable for assisted wheelchair users and features an electric bed, low-level switches and an en-suite wheel-in wet room. The ground floor twin, meanwhile, is equipped with an en-suite wet room with a fitted shower seat and grabs rails.
5. Gyllyngvase Beach – Falmouth, Cornwall
One of the five award-winning beaches in Cornwall, Gyllyngvase is a breathtaking sandy stretch that’s popular with locals and holidaymakers alike. There is a host of wildlife in the plentiful rock pools to explore and if you are lucky you might even spot a dolphin out to sea!
The beach has ample parking with designated disabled bays, disabled toilets and level access down to the shore. Sand chairs are available to hire from the Gyllyngvase Beach Café (t.+44 (0)1326 312884, e. email@example.com) for easy access to the beach. The car park is about 100m from the beach access is level again starting as tarmac and becoming sandy as you hit the beach. From the car park to the water is around 75m.
For accessible Cornwall B&B accommodation, situated, try the Lerryn Hotel which is just minutes from Gyllyngase Beach. With its friendly, informal atmosphere, you can be assured of an enjoyable stay. The B&B has been rated by the National Accessible Scheme as suitable for both part-time and assisted wheelchair users and it has an adapted twin room on the ground floor with a wheel-in shower and beautiful garden views.
National Mobility Hire:
t. +44 (0) 800 111 6234