Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Norwich
23rd March 2018
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Norwich is the county town of Norfolk and dates back from the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution when it was the largest city in England after London and this rich history is still evident today.
Its geographical separation from the spreading homogeny of other English cities has helped it create its own rich character with a great mix of past and present. Despite its unique collection of heritage landmarks, spanning 1,000 years of history, the city is very accessible making it a great destination to explore for those with mobility problems.
So people that need a stairlift just to get around the home shouldn’t be put off as Norwich is really accessible and by reading our guide you can find out some of the most accessible attractions to see, tours to go on and restaurants to dine at.
Best accessible attractions to visit
There are lots of accessible attractions people can visit in Norwich and here are some that can’t be missed.
Norwich Cathedral dates back to over 900 years ago as the Cathedral church of a Benedictine Monastery was built to inspire by its sheer size and magnificence.
The Benedictine tradition placed great significance on welcoming people and, as a result of this inherited ethos, the cathedral takes great pride in the welcome it extends to people visiting.
James Shelton, the Marketing Manager for the Norwich Cathedral, says, “Whether it’s for worship, tourism, a family fun day, an art exhibition, to eat and drink, for a concert, to attend a business breakfast or celebrate a wedding - whatever it is that brings you to us, our mission is to be a place where you feel welcome.
“So now when we say that we look forward to welcoming you to Norwich Cathedral, you know we really mean it!”
The Cathedral has good level access throughout for visitors with mobility problems and wheelchair users and people can access the Presbytery via a ramp. There are only a few areas that are not accessible for wheelchair users and these are St Catherine’s Chapel, the Treasury, Cloister Garth and Broderers’ Workshop.
The cathedral has accessible toilets and there is a lift in the refectory building to the upper Refectory Café and the library and one lift in the Hostry Education and Visitor Centre.
Norwich Theatre Royal
The Norwich Theatre Royal is an extremely popular attraction in the city with more than 400,000 people attending the theatre every year to watch around 400 performances. These shows range from children shows to grand opera and West End musicals. There are lots of dance, comedy, music and family shows to enjoy at the theatre as well.
The theatre is accessible for all as there is a lift to the upstairs areas and ramped access to all seats. Some seats are also removable for people in wheelchairs and for those with mobility problems refreshments can be brought to the seat.
There are also raised seated areas for wheelchair users and visitors with mobility problems can enter the auditorium early to get to their seat before the rest of the audience enter.
Another must-visit attraction that is really accessible for visitors with mobility issues is Norwich Castle.
The castle is steeped in history and was completed in 1121 having been designed to be a royal palace, although no Norman kings ever lived in it. It was in 1894 when the castle opened as a museum and started to display collections of earlier Norfolk and Norwich.
Despite its age, Norwich Castle is very accessible with designated parking spaces for Blue Badge holders, accessible toilet facilities and easy-access to most sections of the castle. The battlements and dungeons are not wheelchair accessible, but the two films in the cinema room show these areas.
To really get an insight into this magnificent castle’s history visitors can go on lots of guided tours such as the fighting gallery tours and the Shirehall courtroom tours and curator tours of the Castle Keep.
Best restaurants in Norwich
Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill
How do unlimited mussels sound? Join us every Tuesday at 6pm. Choose from Chorizo & Basil, Sea Salt & Peppercorn and Coconut & Lime! Tweet us to book your table! pic.twitter.com/sINSRRCL31— Loch Fyne UK (@LochFyneUK) February 24, 2018
Loch Fyne Seafood and Grill has become one of Norwich’s most popular dining destinations as a result of serving fresh seafood and seasonal dishes in a relaxed environment.
The restaurant in Norwich is easily accessible for visitors with mobility issues and being just minutes away from the Theatre Royal and Norwich’s famous ‘lanes’ shopping experience it is the perfect location to stop off for lunch or dinner.
The restaurant has lots of delicious dishes on its menu and these range from seafood tagliatelle and Scottish rope-grown mussels to poached smoked haddock and fish and chips.
For visitors that wish to try some of the finest Indian food, Norfolk has to offer they should visit the family-run restaurant of Namaste Village.
Serving vegetarian and vegan food from different regions of India, diners can enjoy fresh ingredients and a range of flavours that will give you an insight into the spirit and spice of India.
Some of the main dishes on offer include Mushroom Tikka Masala, Namaste’s Kaju Vegetable Korma and Vegetable Kadai to name a few.
Roger Hickman’s Restaurant
Roger Hickman’s Restaurant on Upper St. Giles Street in Norwich is not only accessible for wheelchairs users and those with mobility problems, it has been picked as one of the most romantic places to eat in the UK.
The popular eatery has lots of different menus for visitors to browse through; a lunch menu, taster menu, dinner menu, wine list and a vegetarian taster menu.
For those looking to enjoy a spot of lunch before or after exploring the city centre, there are lots of great dishes on offer such as a confit salmon, leek, caper and mustard dressing or a pressed chicken terrine, cep, crispy chicken wings with charred spring onion.
Best accessible tours to go on
Go on a sightseeing bus around Norwich
For people that struggle to walk long distances can enjoy a sightseeing bus tour around Norwich with City Sightseeing Norwich, which was set-up by Awaydays owners David and Beryl McMaster.
Visitors can now take open-top bus tours and enjoy panoramic views of the city whilst listening to a recorded commentary on the history and background.
The bus tour allows guests to hop-on and hop-off the bus at any of the nine different stops that are along the route.
The City Sightseeing Bus Stop is located on Castle Meadow and as well as the 45-minute tour, visitors can pick up a free visitor map to take with them. The tours run every day from 29 March to 30 September or just Tuesday and Saturdays from 2nd October to 27th October.
Go on a balloon ride over Norfolk
Visitors that want to see Norwich from a unique angle could consider a balloon ride with Broadland Balloon Flights, who is Norfolk and Suffolk’s leading hot air balloon ride company.
The flights launch all year round from Norwich and over 20,000 passengers have benefitted from unrivalled views of the open countryside and the Norfolk Broads.
East Anglia is one of the best places to enjoy a hot air balloon ride as the region boasts a mix of peaceful countryside, historic market towns and unspoilt coastline. Balloon riders can see Norwich’s old and new architecture from the air and with its launch site located in Bluebell Road people can get a glimpse of the city’s two cathedrals and Norman Castle as well as Norwich City Football Clubs stadium, Carrow Road.
While wheelchair users will not be able to go on the tour, the balloon rides are accessible to older people with mobility problems as staff can help people into the basket.
Explore Norfolk Broads with Broad Tours
Around 20 minutes from Norwich is the famous Norfolk Broads, a 125-mile network of rivers and lakes set in beautiful countryside with picturesque towns and villages.
During a visit to Norwich visitors should see the Norfolk Broads and the best way to appreciate the national park at its very best is from the water.
With Broad Tours, an award-winning tour operator, visitors can sit back and relax on their day boats or boat trips.
The Norfolk Broads river trips have a fleet of passenger boats allowing visitors to listen to a full commentary from the skipper discussing the origins of the Broads and highlighting points of interest. Alternatively, visitors can take to the helm and hire a day boat, allowing visitors to independently explore the Broad’s beauty at your own pace and style.
All passenger boats have the facilities to carry wheelchairs and people with limited mobility are able to board the boats first to enable you to receive priority seating. The toilets on the boats are accessible and to access the upper or lower decks of the passenger boats guests will need to ascend or descend some steps, but there are handrails and non-slip surfaces for those with mobility issues.
Jump aboard the Bure Valley Railway
Visitors can experience a nostalgic trip by steam train on Norfolk’s longest narrow gauge railway between Aylsham and Wroxham.
The journey is an 18-mile round trip that follows the meandering River Bure through the Bure Valley countryside and its ancient pasture.
The train journey is an accessible experience as no matter whether you have a disability or use a wheelchair, the Bure Valley Railway has been adapted to be fully accessible.
The stations at Aylsham and Wroxham both have level access and all its shops, accessible toilets, café and workshops are on one level.
The trains themselves can carry wheelchairs and there are double doors and ramps available to visitors with mobility problems.
Fairhaven Woodland & Water Garden
Just outside Norwich is the Fairhaven Woodland & Water Garden and with nearly four miles of woodland pathways, it is a wildlife enthusiast’s haven.
The garden, tea room, gift shop and one of the boats that take visitors around the lake is fully accessible for people with mobility issues.
The attraction has three mobility scooters and two wheelchairs that can be lent out to visitors and although there may be some areas that are a little bumpy, the paths are generally flat.
The gardens usually put on events for visitors such as Bluebell Walks, Primula Walks and Woodland Night Adventure’s so it is worth people planning on visiting to keep an eye out on their events page.