Accessible filming locations to visit in the UK
25th July 2018
Film and TV fanatics have no shortage of exciting filming locations to visit in the UK. From Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland which doubles as the route for the Hogwarts Express, to the peaceful settlement of Charlestown used in Poldark, there’s something for film and TV fans everywhere.
Often for those with limited mobility, getting out and exploring locations can involve a lot of careful planning. However many historic buildings have installed - like many already have at home – indoor and outdoor stair lifts, to allow everyone to enjoy their visit to the full. This article will look at some of the UK’s most exciting and accessible filming locations to visit in the UK.
Doctor Who, Cardiff
Many locations in Wales are featured in the Doctor Who series, making it a hot spot for TV enthusiasts. Best of all, many of the filming locations are open to the public and are very accessible to those with limited mobility.
Seven miles from Cardiff Central station, Dyffryn Gardens has made several appearances in Doctor Who. The house appears as the hospital and Donna’s bedroom in The Forest of the Dead episode and Reinette’s bedroom in The Girl in the Fireplace. The gardens reappeared again posing as Versailles in the same episode, and in The Girl Who Waited.
Kate Simons, visitor experience manager at Dyffryn Gardens, discussed the history of the estate: “Discover magnificent Edwardian gardens flowing from grand vistas to intimate spaces, overlooked by a large mansion. The partially-restored home of the Cory family, Dyffryn House stands at the heart of the gardens and is grade two listed.
“The house provided a secluded family home within commutable distance of their business interests across South Wales. Plant hunting during the 19th century saw a huge surge in popularity as wealthy adventurers explored the globe searching for new and exotic species to bring back to Britain. Reginald Cory was one such plant hunter. In order to collect his specimens he commissioned plant hunting expeditions to China, South Africa and Australia to name but a few, making use of the fleet of ships available to the Cory family’s coal business shipping to over 180 ports around the world. As a result, Dyffryn’s plant collections are unique and incredibly important horticulturally. You can see trees in the arboretum that are from original trips commissioned by Reginald and many collections of plants that were inspired by his passion for collecting. Today, our gardeners carry on this legacy of experimentation, displaying rare and unusual plants for everyone to enjoy.
“Dyffryn has been featured in several episodes of Doctor Who and Torchwood due to its beautiful setting. This special place is undergoing an ambitious modern revival, and the continuing restoration work is heavily influenced by the Cory period. New information is being brought to light by volunteer researchers and informs the ongoing long-term plans for improvements.
“Part of the excitement of visiting regularly is seeing what has changed. There is also an expansive kitchen garden, with fresh seasonal produce used in dishes in our cafés or available to take home from our shop. There is a programme of year-round events to enjoy, from outdoor performances to exhibitions and lawn games, there is also a second-hand book shop to enjoy. With its relaxed atmosphere and multitude of hidden treasures to discover, Dyffryn is a treat for everyone young and old who has an interest in the past, present and future.
“The majority of the gardens are wheelchair-friendly and along an accessible route that takes in most areas. The Garden’s Café and Gallery Café are fully accessible with indoor and outdoor seating. There is a good provision of accessible toilets around the site and courtesy wheelchairs and mobility scooters available to hire free of charge. There is a volunteer-run buggy shuttle service and several benches and sitting areas throughout the gardens. Dyffryn House is open daily and is fully accessible on the ground floor, with a lift to access the first floor rooms. The heated glasshouse in the Walled Garden has level access and assistance dogs are welcome in all areas.”
Other filming locations you can visit from Doctor Who include Roald Dahl Plass, in the city centre, which features regularly in the series and The National Museum of Wales. The museum appeared as Henry Van Statten’s exhibition hall in Dalek and the International Gallery in Planet of the Dead, as well as the exterior of Professor Lazarus’ office in The Lazarus Experiment.
Outlander is a TV drama series based on the historical time travel Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon. The story follows a married World War Two nurse who in 1945 finds herself transported back to Scotland in 1743, where she meets a Highland warrior and becomes entangled in the Jacobite risings.
The historic village of Culross doubles as Cranesmuir in Outlander, where Geillis Duncan and her husband Arthur reside. Many of the key filming locations in Culross are accessible, however there are some cobbled areas to be are of.
TV fanatics have travelled from far and wide to step into the shoes of the characters. Adventures Around Scotland is a Scottish travel blog encouraging visitors to explore a different side to the country, off the tourist trail, including filming locations. The brains behind the blog Susanne said: “I love writing about lesser-known gems and the roads less travelled to help my readers plan a completely unique and memorable trip to Scotland. I only write about my personal travel experiences so I can offer honest advice and useful travel tips.
“I started reading the Outlander books about 10 years ago and loved them so I couldn’t wait to watch the TV series when it came out. I really enjoyed spotting some recognisable filming locations but also realised that there were many that I had never been to or hadn’t visited for a long time. I decided to explore some of them and wrote about them on my blog, which proved really popular. I got so many enquiries from people wanting to know more about the locations, I decided to visit as many as I could and share them with my readers. Now I’ve visited them all, I’m planning a complete guide to help others enjoy them too.
“Tibbermore Church, which was used as a filming location for the witch trial, is very atmospheric, and really sticks in my mind. Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace are also very impressive even though they are ruins. Overall, they really chose their filming locations well as many have a real-life link to the Jacobites or that period in Scottish history. Most of the locations are open to the public and are worthwhile attractions in their own right.”
Susanne’s recommended Outlander filming location Tibbermore Church is accessible to those with limited mobility. Blackness Castle has some uneven ground and cobbles which can be tricky for wheelchairs, however there are gravel paths around the lawn. Linlithgow Palace is also very accessible to those with mobility issues and offers accessible parking.
As well as extensively exploring Outlander filming locations, Susanne has also travelled to other film and TV locations in the UK: “I must admit I do enjoy visiting places from my favourite films and TV shows. Recently I’ve been to the Glenfinnan Viaduct which was famously used in the Harry Potter films and the village of Pennan which featured in Local Hero.
“Earlier this month I also visited the fishing village of Portsoy which was used in the remake of Whisky Galore. Last year I went on a tour to see some of the Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland which was probably one of my travel highlights as I’m a huge fan of the show.”
Doc Martin, Cornwall
The fictional seaside village of Portwenn, the home of Doc Martin, is, in fact, Port Isaac in North Cornwall. The programme follows the story of Dr Martin Ellingham (played by Martin Clunes), a successful vascular surgeon, who develops a fear of blood and accepts a role as a GP in a sleepy Cornish village, where he’d spent time with family growing up. Due to Port Isaac’s prominence in the television series, visitors from all over the world have travelled to the village.
With a beautiful pub overlooking the harbour, artist studios, a fish and chip shop, two seafood restaurants led by a Michelin-starred chef, and some of the prettiest views you’ll ever see, it’s little wonder why Port Isaac has become such a popular holiday destination.
While the route down to the harbour is somewhat steep, the roads are well-surfaced and there are multiple roads leading into the village, many of which are suitable for wheelchair or mobility scooter users. Look out for Fern Cottage, which was used as Doc Martin’s house in the series, and is actually a holiday cottage!
Harry Potter, London and Scotland
Follow in the footsteps of wizards by exploring Harry Potter filming locations in the UK. From London to Scotland, many of the UK’s most spectacular historic sites have featured in the Harry Potter films, and are accessible to fans with mobility issues.
Leadenhall Market in the heart of London was partly used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The entrance to the dark and mysterious wizard’s pub, The Leaky Couldron, is in real life an opticians in Bull’s Head Passage in the market. This spectacular Victorian covered market, with its intricate design and lavish paintwork, is well worth a visit, as it’ll give visitors a real sense of the magic of Diagon Alley. For those who wish to visit Gringotts Wizarding Bank, head to Australia House on the Strand in central London.
Laurence and Jessica Norah, the travelling husband and wife team behind Finding the Universe and Independent Travel Cats have been exploring the world full time since 2010. Laurence, a self-confessed ‘fantasy and film geek’ loves visiting filming locations, so the couple incorporate this into their travels. “The Harry Potter series was something we both enjoyed,” said Laurence, “and being able to visit the locations from the films was always going to be a bit of a magical experience.”
The couple also discussed which locations they found the most impressive: “There were two that spring to mind – Leadenhall Market, which is a beautiful covered market of itself. The other location we really enjoyed visiting was the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. This was an absolute must for any fan – so much of the films were filmed at this studio, and you can visit the sets, practice your broomstick flying, drink butter-beer and learn about all the magic behind the movies.”
Visitors can get the full Harry Potter experience at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London. The attraction is wheelchair accessible, offers disabled parking bays in its free on-site car park, free carer tickets and accessible toilets.
As well as seeking out Harry Potter filming locations, Laurence and Jessica have found other famous locations in the UK: “We’ve visited a few locations, as well as the Harry Potter locations outside of London, we’ve also visited some Outlander filming locations in Scotland, Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, James Bond locations in Scotland – to name but a few!”
Those further north in the UK can also visit the spectacular Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was used by the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. The viaduct carries trains 100 feet above the ground, through the stunning Scottish landscape. Visitors can follow a level, wide pathway all the way to the bridge, with a small car park, which is suitable for those with limited mobility in wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
Downton Abbey, Berkshire
Avid fans of ITV’s Downton Abbey will be pleased to know that the abbey itself, formally known as Highclere Castle, is open to visitors. While the historic building is not completely accessible inside, the grounds are mostly level and give visitors an insight into times gone by. The team at Highclere Castle discussed the history of the estate: “Highclere Castle has been home to the Carnarvon family since 1679. Built on an ancient site, the original house was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086.
“The present-day castle was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect also responsible for building the Houses of Parliament in London. The castle’s history also includes a fascinating connection with ancient Egypt, as the 5th earl, with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. More recently, of course, it was the location of the world-famous and much-loved Downton Abbey series.”
Although the gardens of Highclere Castle are mostly accessible, the interior has some challenges for visitors with limited mobility. However for visitors who cannot reach the first floor of the castle, as there is no lift access, there are photographs available to view to see some of the bedrooms. The team explained: “Whilst we do have some facilities for people with mobility issues such as parking and toilets, the castle itself, by the very nature of it being an old building, is not entirely accessible.
“However we do offer free tickets for carers to come along with their disabled friend or relative to help them navigate the obstacles.”
Fans of the series will be delighted to know that a Downton Abbey film is on the horizon. “The shutters will open and the servant’s bell will ring once again as the Downton Abbey cast and crew return to Highclere Castle to film the highly-anticipated feature-length motion picture everyone has been waiting for,” said the team.” It has been nearly three years since Downton Abbey’s final television episode aired, capturing over 10 million of us each week, but whilst it left our screens, it never left our hearts. The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon are delighted to welcome back old friends such as Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith and Jim Carter to tread the castle boards.”
Highclere Castle and its surrounding gardens and park are open to visitors during the summer months. Full details of accessibility at the castle are available on their website.
Avid fans of crime drama won’t have missed ITV’s hit series Broadchurch, starring David Tenant and Olivia Colman as local detectives. Following the discovery of a young boy’s body at the bottom of cliffs in a quiet West Country village, an investigation is launched, revealing that all is not as it seems in Broadchurch (actually West Bay in Dorset). The striking cliffs feature prominently throughout the series, as is the town itself. West Bay is mostly accessible to those with limited mobility, and many shops, pubs and restaurant have good access. A full list of accessible businesses in West Bay and Bridport is available on the tourism website, as well as locations of disabled toilets and taxis with wheelchair access.
Based on a series of historical novels, hit BBC series Poldark shone a light on the rugged landscapes of Cornwall. The story follows Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner), a British Army officer who returns to his home in Cornwall from the American War of Independence and the region’s diverse landscapes. The tumultuous story sees Ross Poldark return home to find his fiancée, who believed him dead, is due to marry his cousin, Francis Poldark. The series was adapted from historical novels by Winston Graham, published from 1945-1953 (and continued from 1973 to 2002).
Numerous locations in Cornwall featured in the series, from the wild Bodmin Moor to the engine houses of St Agnes, and Charlestown, which is home to a collection of grand tall ships. Charlestown is a picturesque village and a fine example of a late Georgian working port. Built between 1791 and 1801, the port today remains unspoiled, and houses at least one of the square riggers ships at all times. Walking through Charlestown, visitors will get a sense of history and will recognise the area from the series. Daniel Scholes, retail and ticketing supervisor at The Shipwreck Centre Charlestown, discussed the area's history: "The construction of the harbour at Charlestown began in 1791 when Charles Rashleigh, a local businessman, decided to build a port from which he could export the local china clay. It is this harbour, completed in its current form in 1873 when the inner harbour was extended, which is used as a filming location for many films and TV series, including Poldark, Taboo, Doctor Who and Alice in Wonderland.
"The Shipwreck Centre itself was originally used to dry the china clay which came from the hills surrounding St Austell, one example of a former clay quarry nearby is the pit where the Eden Project is now located. The clay would then be transported through the tunnels beneath the building and sent down shoots to the ships waiting in the harbour. The building was converted into the Shipwreck Centre in 1976 and now holds the largest private collection of shipwreck artefacts in Europe. The last shipment of china clay to leave Charlestown harbour was on the MV Ellen on 13th December 1999.
"The harbour is instantly recognisable to viewers of Poldark, having been used as the location of Truro Docks, and for all of the quayside scenes involving Ross speaking with the Captain in the earlier series, and Doctor Ennis in the most recent series. The Shipwreck Centre has a viewing gallery at the end of the tunnels which overlooks the harbour and gives a great view of the filming location and the Cornish coastline."
The Shipwreck Centre is accessible to people with limited mobility, with ramped access throughout and plenty of space for wheelchairs. Daniel added: "We believe that making our collection and the history of the village as accessible as possible to all visitors is extremely important in helping to share the little-known histories of what we have here."
For a full list of filming locations from Poldark, check out the Visit Cornwall website.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.