Accessible World Heritage Sites In The UK
At MultiCare, we are passionate about helping our customers live their lives to the fullest. This is why we are always on hand to offer advice on an array of topics from stairlifts to accessible weekends away. We like to keep up with all the latest industry news so that we can be certain we are offering our customers the best possible service.
World Heritage Site has been selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having a cultural, historical, scientific or another form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. We are very lucky that the UK has so many protected sites for us to visit, 31 in total. They can make a great day trip and many of us have even planned weekends away to be able to visit some of these wonderful places. These sites are there for everyone to visit from across the world so it would be unfair to let a disability get in the way. Most of the UK World Heritage Sites do have accessibility features in place, however, some more than others. We have produced this guide of the best rated national heritage sites for accessibility so that our customers can plan their visits confidently. For more information, please contact one of our helpful advisors on 0808 273 4463.
Top 4 Accessible World Heritage Sites In UK
We have narrowed the UK’s 31 World Heritage Sites down to the top 4 to visit if you require accessible access. This is not to suggest that the places not mentioned do not also cater for disabilities. The sites in the top 4 are also discussed in no particular order.
1. City of Bath
The City of Bath was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1987. This decision was to do with Bath’s history. It was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa and then became an important centre of the wool industry in the middle ages. In the 18th century, under George III, it developed into an elegant town with neoclassical Palladian buildings, which blend harmoniously with the Roman baths. Bath is considered one the most beautiful cities in Europe and it is framed in literature and art.
Bath prides itself on being accessible to all visitors. They have a welcoming Visitor Information Centre which can offer advice and tips for your individual requirements. The staff will be able to point you in the direction of the best museums and galleries as well as places to eat out. Bath has a Shopmobility service available to all visitors where you can hire electric scooters, powered wheelchairs (£1/hour) or manual chairs (50p/hour). There is also a range of accessible accommodation options including Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Bath City, SACO Bath – St James’ Parade, Bailbrook House, and Apex City of Bath Hotel.
The ‘must do’ place to visit in Bath is the Roman Baths. This site is 90% accessible to wheelchair users. Visitors with hearing or visual impairments can enjoy the site using the British Sign Language or fully descriptive audio tour and tactile models. The site has three enclosed lifts, one platform lift, and handrails in many places, but if you want to access the entire site, you will still need to climb some steps. If you make staff aware that you have limited mobility they will direct you to the most accessible route. There are two accessible toilets, one by the entrance and one on the route. The Roman Baths have been given a 5* review on Euan’s Guide!! Leave your own review here after your visit to help advise future visitors.
If the City of Bath and the Roman Baths sound appealing to you, please visit their websites before you go to get the information you need.
Studley Royal Park and the ruins of Fountains Abbey
Fountains Abbey is located in North Yorkshire in a town called Ripton which is about 20 minutes north of Harrogate. In the 18th century, a designed landscape of exceptional beauty was created around the ruins of the Cistercian Fountains Abbey. The site represents over 800 years of human ambition, design and achievement. Studley Royal Park is one of the few great 18th century gardens to survive substantially in its original form and is one of the most spectacular water gardens in England.
They have stated in their access statement that much of the site is accessible for wheelchair users and on request a wheelchair friendly vehicle is available to take you between all 3 entrance points, and St Mary’s Church. Their Visitor map will help you plan your visit and shows the circular wheelchair route (21/2 miles) which takes you through the main historic areas. There are a few areas which are not accessible for wheelchair users but this was not a problem for one Euan’s guide reviewer who stated that they had access to more areas than they expected and spend a total of 5 hours at the attraction. They also commented on the wonderful views that the accessible route has to offer around the river and lake. There are 3 car parks, two of which had designated disabled spaces. The biggest car park is furthest away so there is a regular shuttle minibus to Westgate, Studley, and St Mary’s Church and a wheelchair friendly vehicle available on request. There are disabled toilets located throughout the site. If you would like more information before you visit, please read this document.
Durham Cathedral was built in the late 11th and early 12th centuries and is the largest and finest example of Norman architecture in England. The innovative audacity of its vaulting foreshadowed Gothic architecture. Behind the cathedral stands the castle, an ancient Norman fortress which was the residence of the prince-bishops of Durham. The castle was first constructed in the late eleventh century under the orders of William the Conqueror.
Durham Cathedral is located at the top of a hill but you should not have a problem reaching it because Durham City Shopmobility provides battery-operated scooters and a minibus service. There is limited parking behind the cathedral which is available to single vehicles with a disabled badge. A reviewer on Euan’s guide admitted that the cathedral has a tricky approach but it was easy inside with around 90% of the site accessible. He also mentioned a handy app which shows where all the ramps are in the building. Accessible toilets are located in three different locations around the site. We recommend that you inform a member of staff on your arrival of your requirements and they should be able to give more individual and helpful advice.
Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, is perhaps the most famous of the UK’s world heritage sites. It is even considered one the 7 wonders of the Medieval world along with the Colosseum and Great Wall of China. The two sanctuaries consist of circles of menhirs arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored. They provide an insight into the mortuary and ceremonial practices of the period and are evidence of prehistoric technology, architecture and astronomy. The careful siting of monuments in relation to the landscape helps us to further understand the Neolithic and Bronze Age. To find out more, you will have to visit the site to see for yourself!
The visitor facilities at Stonehenge have been designed, with the advice of disabled people, to be as accessible as possible in order to meet the different needs of those with access requirements. All the main areas including in and around the car park, visitor centre and the Stone Circle – are accessible by wheelchair via tarmac and grass paths. The visitor shuttle service is accessible for wheelchairs and access onto the shuttle service is step-free. There are accessible toilets at the visitor centre, including an adult changing area, and an accessible emergency-only toilet close to the Stones. For more information, visit the Stonehenge website or give them a call.
As a nation-wide provider of stairlifts, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters for those in need, Multicare are proud to be able to offer advice to our customers on how to continue to make the most of life despite their limited mobility. Luckily so many of our country’s famous landmarks have built-in features to allow all visitors an enjoyable experience. However, we understand that many people may still worry when planning trips. We hope this guide is useful and inspires you to visit one of the wonderful world heritage sites. If you would like more information, our friendly staff members are easy to contact on 0808 273 4463.
Sarah Wirth works for Multicare Mobility specialising in Marketing and Trend-Analysis.