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Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Channel Islands

23rd August 2018

Only a few miles off the Normandy coast in France, the Channel Islands are made up of Sark, Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Jethou and Brecqhou, all of which offer lots of things to do for visitors.

Being a short trip away from mainland UK, the Channel Islands offer people the perfect break away and this includes holidaymakers with mobility problems. Here we take you through the most accessible attractions, restaurants and tours.

Best accessible attractions to visit

The likes of Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Sark and the other bodies of land that make up the Channel Islands boast a range of accessible attractions that should definitely be visited.

Jersey Zoo

A must-visit attraction to head to during a holiday in the Channel Islands is Jersey Zoo, a world-famous zoo set-up by Gerald Durrell – whose formative years were aired on the hit ITV series ‘The Durrells’.

Jersey Zoo began as the first ever conservation-themed zoo. 50 years later, Gerald Durrell’s animal haven is the natural place to discover some of the world’s most incredible creatures. This stunning 32-acre park with valleys, woodland and some of the world’s rarest animals is the perfect chance to experience ‘the jewel in Jersey’s crown’. Relax and stay a while or see the best bits in under two hours.

At the zoo, visitors can see bats, birds, boars or bears, as there are over 100 species living at the zoo. Visitors can also be amused by the orangutans, watch a young gorilla playing with his dad, and see the tamarins scampering freely amongst the trees. The newly-extended bat enclosure is a world-first for fruit bats in captivity and allows the bats to fly around in a huge 100m circle.

Tiffany Lang, Communications Officer for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, talks about the accessibility of the zoo for older people.

“To help you make the most of your day, have a look at our map and get acquainted with our zoo’s layout before you get here. Don’t worry, finding your way around is easy, with numerous signposts to point you in the right direction. All our paths are wide and pushchair friendly, and we have mobility scooters and wheelchairs available for hire on arrival. Mobility scooters are £10 and wheelchairs are £6. If you would like to book one in advance or find out more information about them, please call our admissions team on 01534 860071 or email visitor.centre@durrell.org. And don’t forget to check out our official Guide Book, an essential accompaniment to your visit.”

Visit Maritime Museum & Occupation Tapestry Gallery

A perfect place for visitors to start their island adventure is at the Maritime Museum as visitors can discover Jersey’s maritime past through interactive displays.

The Maritime Museum & Occupation Tapestry Gallery has exhibits that allow its visitors to see, touch, hear and even smell with displays on the Elements, Boats and People, as well as an exhibition called Seaside, which celebrates the Island’s rich relationship with the seaside and showcases films and photographs from the archives.

The Occupation Tapestry Gallery shows a display of 13 tapestries created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Jersey in 1945.

This popular attraction is easily accessible for older people with issues getting around as there is a lift to the second floor and a modern stair lift to the third-floor.

Jersey Heritage, a charity that protects the islands rich heritage, offer a pass which gives visitors unlimited access to the below attractions:

  • Mont Orgueil Castle
  • Elizabeth Castle (inclusive of the Castle Ferry)
  • Jersey Museum, Art Gallery & Merchant’s House
  • Maritime Museum & Occupation Tapestry Gallery
  • Hamptonne Country Life Museum
  • La Hougue Bie

German Occupation Museum

The German Occupation Museum is located on Guernsey and its story began when its founder Richard Heaume started collecting spent bullets as a schoolboy. He began displaying his collection in a cottage opposite the family house.

Now the museum has expanded and shows an extensive collection of original Occupation items and documents, including many extremely rare pieces.

Some of the exhibits that visitors can see include a Renault FT-17 tank turret, a communication limber, an anti-tank gun, an example of an occupation kitchen, a motorbike and an AA four-wheel enigma that sent encrypted messages in secret code to British spies at Bletchley Park.

The museum is easily accessible via a number of buses and for visitors who struggle to walk long distances, there is a car park right outside the attraction. Inside the museum, it is fairly level and there are slopes for wheelchair users.

Best restaurants in the Channel Islands

The Channel Islands is famous for its food with an abundance of local produce on offer on the likes of Jersey and Guernsey. Here are some great accessible eateries to visit.

Le Braye Cafe and restaurant

Le Braye Cafe and restaurant is a beachside bistro that is renowned for offering simple, fresh and delicious food and drink.

Located in St Ouen’s Bay in Jersey, the restaurant pays homage to British seaside classics and includes Mediterranean influences on its menu with local crab linguine and fritto misto being just some of the delicious meals to enjoy.

The restaurant is well-known for its accessibility as Jolyon Baker, the owner of Le Braye Cafe and restaurant explains.

“We have an excellent wheelchair access ramp at Le Braye, disabled toilet facilities, and wonderful views of St Ouen’s Bay, which also has the only real access slipway onto the beach. We also support the beach ability team and were the first to have the beach wheelchairs available for free hire to the side of our cafe. These chairs allow many wheelchair users to get on to the beach and get their feet in the sand and water, often for the first time in ages or ever at all.”

The Boathouse

The Boathouse, located on Victoria Pier in St Peter Port on Guernsey, offers stunning views of the marina and is an eatery renowned for its food and wine.

Perfect for breakfast, lunch or a lovely dinner, The Boathouse has summer, children’s, Tennerfest and Christmas menus. From the classic Boathouse Breakfast and Nutella and Banana crepes to prime fillet beef and the vegetarian Falafel Burger.

Being in the heart of the town, the restaurant is within easy access of many of Guernsey’s attractions and town centre.

Older people with mobility problems can visit the restaurant safe in the knowledge that there is level access throughout the venue, accessible toilets and enough room in the restaurant for mobility scooters.

Pier 17 Restaurant

Opened in 2009, the Pier 17 Restaurant offers a simple blend of good food and a relaxed atmosphere that attracts island-hoppers and local islanders.

The restaurant’s menu is inspired by fresh and seasonal ingredients, but some of its popular dishes are the Chilled Seafood Platter, the 5oz Fillet Mignon with Half Guernsey Lobster and the Char-grilled Fillet of Beef.

For diners with mobility issues, there is a ramp and handrails at the entrance of the restaurant and parking is just a short distance away.

Best accessible tours

There are a number of accessible tours on offer to visitors with mobility problems and here are some of the best.

Wet Wheels

Wet Wheels is a charity that helps build disabled visitors and those with mobility problems confidence by providing the opportunity to access the sea through modified, fully accessible powerboats.

The adventurous trips are staffed by fully-trained members of staff and rather than the trips just being tours and visitors being passengers, people will get the chance to steer the vessel and learn about seamanship.

After being set-up in 2014, the Wet Wheels Jersey boat has taken many local islanders and visitors on not just around Jersey, but to the other islands that make up the Channel Islands.

The design of the catamaran allows easy access for wheelchair users and it has the capacity to take 12 passengers, including four wheelchair users and two crew members.

History Alive Tours

History Alive Tours offer a number of guided island tours, including a German Occupation, Jersey Military History, Megalithic Jersey and German Bunker tours to name just a few.

The tours are accessible for those with mobility problems as people travel in a luxury 16-seater or 7-seater mini-bus. As well as the coach tours there are guided site visits on offer, but with all the tours groups can get out and explore the different places.

The tours are interactive and themed to the island's history as well as showcasing Jersey’s scenic beauty. The trips will take visitors to parts of the island that are hidden gems.

Guernsey Island Tours

For holidaymakers staying on Guernsey that really want to get an insight into the history and natural beauty of the island, it is a great idea to book a trip with Guernsey Island Tours.

The tours are all accessible as visitors with mobility problems can tailor their needs and enjoy chauffeur driven trips. Guernsey Island Tours offer Executive Car Services and the choice of vehicle will vary depending on the number of passengers.

The different tours available include a German Occupation, a Guernsey Liberation Day, a scenic island and private Guernsey island tours. Most tours will last up to four hours and people with mobility problems will be able to travel in the different vehicles.

Other activities

Jersey Museum, Art Gallery & Merchant’s House

The Jersey Museum, Art Gallery and Merchant’s House in St Helier is certainly another attraction people should try to visit.

The museum takes visitors through the story of Jersey from the Ice Age to the present day and displays some of the Island’s finest treasures. The Merchant’s House is a restored Victorian house and presents the life of a prominent Jersey family.

In terms of accessibility, there is disabled access to all three floors of the museum and a lift and wheelchairs are available to borrow at the site on request.

Another great museum visitors can head to is the Hamptonne Country Life Museum. This will give people a fascinating insight into the rural life carried on in Jersey for centuries.

La Hougue Bie

Nestled in the countryside in the east of Jersey, La Hougue Bie is a large, tranquil place and it includes one of Europe’s finest Neolithic passage graves, a medieval chapel, a WWII German command bunker and memorial to the enforced/slave workers imprisoned in the Channel Islands.

In the resident museum, there is the world’s largest Celtic coin hoard on display as well as ancient gold and silver treasures found in the Le Catillion II Hoard.

The attraction is accessible with onsite parking available and while the museum is mainly accessible, the chapel is not accessible because of its steep steps.

Image credits: Jeremy Oakley, Amanda Slater

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.