Eight Things To Do This Summer
Claire D’All is supported by our transitions team and has very kindly offered to share her tips and advice on accessible days out, so if you are looking for something to do this summer, then read on and see what takes your fancy. A big thank you to Claire for writing this.
“Hey guys! Summer is upon us and with Scottish weather being so unpredictable, it can be hard to plan something to do. Well, for myself and others with a physical impairment there is the added hardship of 'is it accessible?"
"So, I thought I'd share with you some places I've been to and my thoughts on their accessibility. I'd just like to point out though that this is what I like to do and might not be everybody's cup of tea or suitable for everybody.
1. Camperdown Park, Dundee
"I used to go here when I was younger and I don't know if it's just me but I remember things being amazing, then you go when your older and you don't find it as good.
"Well Camperdown was like this, I went a few weeks ago and even though I felt like this there were a few good things. I don't really go to play parks anymore, mainly because I'm an adult now, and also because parks are usually surrounded by sand or bark which my wheelchair is unable to drive on.
"But Camperdown has two play parks, one which is like the way I've just described and another which is wheelchair accessible. They had an accessible roundabout which I was questioning whether it would move because of the weight of my chair, but it did. I must add though that I felt a bit queasy on it as I was moving, but my chair wasn't. Where the slides were was accessible too because there was a ramp leading up to them, however, I can't get out of my chair without a hoist so I can't use the slide, but it's still good to be able to get on the play park and for people who can maybe walk short distances it's good.
"An added bonus is there’s an accessible toilet at the park with a hoist which can be used and there's a nice wildlife park as well. Only downside is that the fences at the exhibits are at eye level of the usual height of a wheelchair, so if you aren't able to raise your chair it may be difficult to see.
"You don't get a free carer admission to the zoo, but you do get £1 off the usual adult price of £5 (although do check prices online as they might change).
"I love going to the cinema. I just love getting lost in a movie and shutting off for a while. Yes, some people go on their phones, really irritating, but I can't do that subtlety, so I don't.
"The only thing that annoys me when going to the cinema is that you sometimes have to sit right in the front row. There are two cinemas that I usually go to in Dundee and in both of them they have screens where you have to sit in the front row or just a few rows back. I don't let this stop me though, I know I say it annoys me but I wouldn't let it stop me from going to the cinema.
"The big difference between these two cinemas is that you have to go upstairs in the Odeon to access the movie screens, whereas Cineworld is all on the one level. I prefer being on the one level as I feel more relaxed and am able to enjoy the movie more because if there is an emergency I know that I can exit the building.
"With going to the cinema, I never feel out of pocket because I have a CEA card which entitles my helper to a free cinema ticket. I only have to spend £6 a year for the card which in my opinion isn’t expensive as it’s cheaper than a single ticket in most cinemas, and I usually on average go to the cinema twice a month. It states on their website that 90% of cinemas in the UK accept CEA cards however, here is a link so you can check available cinemas. You can also apply for a card here too.
"In last couple of weeks, I also went to the New Picture House cinema in St Andrews for the first time and although there wasn’t a designated disabled space in the movie screen, it was accessible for being an old building and I just sat at the end of the rows of seats as the aisle was wide enough for me to do this. Plus, it meant I didn’t have to sit right at the front. The only problem they have is that I think not all the movie screens are accessible, so it’s best to phone up ahead of time to check the movie you want to see is in an accessible one. You can find the phone number and address for the New Picture House cinema here.
3. Edinburgh Zoo
"I haven’t been to Edinburgh Zoo for a few years now, but when I did go the last time I found most of it accessible apart from some of the paths which were quite steep and I felt my chair was going into the side a little when going down the slope. They provide an accessibility map here which shows routes that have steps and where the steep slopes are.
"Everyone has different types of wheelchairs though, the main difference being between manual and electric wheelchairs, however, the map just says unsuitable for wheelchairs. Now I have an electric wheelchair and even though I did struggle a little, I still managed. So, it’s good that they say to you there may be a problem, but you may be able to manage.
"Another good thing they have is a mobility vehicle within the zoo which allows easier access to certain parts of the zoo. Now they didn’t have this in place the last time I was at Edinburgh Zoo, so I can only say what it says on the website, but I think this is a really good idea, and not just for wheelchair users but people with any mobility impairment because in general there is a lot of walking about there.
"You can find all the information you need about visiting Edinburgh Zoo with a disability here, where it also mentions that you get a carer ticket for free which is always good.
4. Bowlplex, Dunfermline
"In Dundee when I was younger there was ten pin bowling, however, like most things it eventually closed and now the closest place to go ten pin bowling is Dunfermline. It has only been in the last six years that I have been going to Bowlplex Dunfermline and I actually think the first time I went was when I was staying at Rachel House in Kinross.
"Now bowling can be a little expensive and unfortunately you don’t get a helper free which means that I do have to pay for me, plus someone else. It’s a great day/night out though because there are lots of restaurants around the bowling and in Bowlplex, and on a Friday or Saturday night there is usually music playing. Also, if you are old enough you can have a cheeky drink in the bar or play in the arcade, although I can’t really play any of the games in the arcade due to my muscle weakness and because I’m not able to get near them in my chair, but everyone has different abilities so you might be able too.
"Bowlplex is also good because they have bowling ramps between every two lanes which you can use, just don’t do what I did because last time I didn’t notice there were two different heighted ramps. So, I was wondering why I couldn’t push the bowling ball down the ramp myself when I could the last time and it was because I was using the lower down ramp when I should have been using the higher one. I will know for next time!
"I love shopping!!! People say I’m a shopaholic. I don’t see it really, unless I look in my wardrobe. I like going outwith my hometown for shopping. I usually get the train or take my car to either Glasgow or Aberdeen and do a little bit of shopping, then go out for drinks and something to eat.
"Aberdeen is good because everything is mainly under one roof, including an accessible toilet with a built tracking hoist. The only thing I feel is that the streets in Aberdeen are sometimes uneven and to get into the Trinity centre I have to go around the long way because the entrance nearest Union Square has stairs.
"The shops in Glasgow are all mainly out on the street, all the ones I shop in anyway, but the streets are all even and most shops are level access. I think there is an accessible toilet with a built tracking hoist in Glasgow, but I’m not sure where.
"I rarely go to Edinburgh and if I do, it is usually to go see a show at Edinburgh Playhouse, which while I’m here is wheelchair accessible and you get a great view of the stage. Anyway, I feel Edinburgh is quite hard to get around which is probably because it is quite an old city, but it doesn’t stop me going and last year I enjoyed going to the Christmas Market. Some issues did arise, but that was more the hoist I was using at our hotel and you can read about that experience here on my blog. Edinburgh’s Wetherspoons at Waverly Station has a great accessible toilet with a built-in tracking hoist.
6. Deep Sea World, North Queensferry and St Andrews Aquarium – both in Fife
"I’ve lived in Scotland all my life, 22 years, and with writing this blog post I have just discovered that the Sea Life Centre in St Andrews isn’t run by Deep Sea World. It’s a different franchise all together.
"Anyway, there are two Sea Life Centres in Scotland, that I know of, and they are Deep Sea World in North Queensferry and St Andrew Aquarium. I have been to both of them, but Deep Sea World is the most accessible one for my wheelchair.
"In fact, I can’t really remember much of the one in St Andrews as I went when I was young and I haven’t been back because I remember having difficulties accessing some areas. On their website here though, it says that there is wheelchair access to just over 50% of the centre and you can ask for a ramp which is available to access 25% of the centre. I can’t remember them having this when I went, but it was over eight years ago. I did recently go to Deep Sea World though and had no accessibility problems whilst there, I could get to all enclosures and the viewing platforms were all at wheelchair level. You can find information on their disability access here.
7. Music Festivals and Concerts
"During the summer I also like going to music festivals, I would like to point out that crowds don't really bother me when I'm out. The only time I can remember being scared was when I was at T in the Park and I decided to see a band near the front, people where bumping into me which doesn't bother me usually but they were quite drunk and the most terrifying part was people standing on other people's shoulders. I just remember being so scared they were going to fall on me.
"When I'm out though I always have a least one person with me, however, there is usually a group of us and they make pretty good body guards. I remember that instance at T in the Park there were five people I was with and they all sort of formed a circle around me so that I was okay, even people I didn't know where pushing others away which was really nice.
"But yeah, when I'm out I never really feel scared. It is intimidating if I'm quite low down and people are towering over me, but I just read the situation and if I feel unsafe I turn my back to that person because chances are if they bump into the handles at the back of my chair it will hurt them more than it would hurt me. This is just the way I feel though, everyone is different. But in my opinion, I feel if I was scared of crowds and people always towering over me, I'd never do anything. I can also raise my chair so I’m not so low down.
"I love going to see concerts as well, and my friend and I always try and see at least one concert every year. It’s usually the SSE Hydro in Glasgow that we go to and I’ve never had any bother, it’s also good because I get a carer ticket for free. The only trouble I have had is booking tickets because I am unable to book tickets online, you always have to book accessible tickets over the phone.
8. Other Attractions
"I have also been to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore and the Highland Wildlife Centre in Aviemore.
"The Highland Folk Museum is an open-air museum that shows what it was like to live and work in 1700s up until the 1960s. There are over 30 historical buildings which were quite accessible. There was a little bus with a wheelchair accessible carriage at the back to take me around the park.
"The Highland Wildlife Centre wasn’t as accessible for my wheelchair, some parts were suitable for my chair and other parts weren’t. Paths were tarmac, so they were smooth for me to drive along and then I would come to a part that is more of a stone/gravel path and would have to turn around and go another way.
"Other attractions like Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle are not as accessible for my wheelchair because they are old buildings and it’s harder to adapt them due to regulations."