Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Chester
6th June 2018
For people with mobility problems, the difference between being able to visit a city and not generally comes down to small details. A step to a restaurant, no ramp, a kerb that hasn’t been flattened and no mobility aids like a stairlift can make people with mobility problems feel trapped. Chester, however, has recently been named Europe’s most accessible city, making it the first British city to receive the coveted award.
Talking about the city, a spokesperson for Visit Chester, says: “Its bewitching beauty and unique atmosphere make the city one of Britain's most popular places for an unforgettable short break.
“The ancient city is a truly breath-taking experience. Each chapter of Chester's history is etched into the very fabric of the city. Well, you are walking where Roman Legionnaires marched to war, Viking raiders wreaked havoc and Norman invaders conquered Angle Saxons.
“Chester has the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000-year-old cathedral with Europe's finest example of medieval carvings - and of course the one and only 700-year-old Rows galleries where shopping is a double delight.
“You'll find stores galore offering the hottest fashion in Chester all set against a background of unique treasures of antiquity and a vibrant cafe culture where outdoor dining and people watching go hand in hand.”
Best accessible attractions to visit
There are lots of attractions to visit in Chester and here are some of the most accessible attractions visitors just can’t miss during a visit to the city.
Make time for Chester Zoo as it is the most-visited UK attraction outside London and home to a staggering 7,000 animals in acres of glorious gardens.
Some of the animals visitors can see include Sumatran tigers, Asiatic lions, jaguars, North African cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, black rhinos, zebras, chimpanzees, orangutans, sun bears, crocodiles, snakes and lizards, to name just a few.
The zoo is not only one of the most popular attractions but is also very accessible with free entry on offer to carers for visitors with mobility problems, free disabled parking, accessible pathways, accessible toilets and wheelchair and electric scooter hire.
Chester Cathedral is many things to different people: an ancient abbey, a cultural hub and a unique blend of medieval and modern history. Visitors travel from all over the world to see the cathedral, which was founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1092. The cathedral is home to the most complete set of monastic buildings in the country and a Georgian square.
There is a gift shop to pick up some unique souvenirs and there is also a falconry and nature gardens where people can meet and greet birds of prey.
The cathedral is very accessible with level access into the venue and once inside visitors with mobility problems will be able to use ramps to navigate up and down the stairs. There are also accessible toilets available to wheelchair users or those who others who struggle to sit down and stand up on their own.
The city walls
Arguably Chester’s most famous attraction is its city walls. The walls are the most complete Roman, Saxon and medieval walls in the UK, but despite their age, the accessibility for disabled visitors is great.
With ramped or level access visitors with mobility problems can still access this iconic attraction and with Blue Badge holders able to park for free for up to four hours, it makes it even easier for visitors to walk to the walls.
Along the walls, you will be able to get some great views of the city’s most famous sights and historic places such the River Dee and the Clwydian Hills in the distance. As well as the great views visitors will be able to learn about the rich history of Chester and its famous walls. From the fact, the Romans built the walls to defend their fortress of Deva to their extension in the middle ages down to the river.
If the weather is nice visitors will be able to get some stunning views and it might be worth heading here in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Best restaurants in Chester
Chester is a dream destination for foodies. Here are the best and most accessible eateries in the city that people should feast their eyes on.
Simon Radley Restaurant
It's British Sandwich Week, so why not treat yourself to a delicious afternoon tea to celebrate this great British invention? #britishsandwichweek #fingersandwiches #afternoontea #chestergrosvenor pic.twitter.com/CCmCmhEP8e— Chester Grosvenor (@TheGrosvenor) May 22, 2018
Chester is home to some fantastic restaurants and the Simon Radley Restaurant at the Chester Grosvenor is one of the best. The award-winning restaurant has held a prestigious Michelin star since 1990. Visitors to this restaurant can enjoy wines from around the world and from its a la carte menu can enjoy oysters and pearls, Pyrenean mountain lamb and beef sirloin.
The restaurant is accessible with level access on offer to diners and sufficient wheelchair access to tables. The hotel will also allow visitors to hire mobility aids, but this will need to be arranged in advance.
The Joseph Benjamin restaurant is nestled against the famous city walls on Northgate Street and is the perfect location for visitors who are in the city centre. The popular restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday and for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
There are a variety of dishes you can try such as wood pigeon breast, charred monkfish, a range of starters like soups and grilled whole king prawn as well as an array of wines. Being so close to the city centre it means visitors with mobility problems can go and see the city walls or go shopping and then head here for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The Yard Restaurant
This family-owned Italian restaurant is also ideally located in the centre of Chester and with a chef that worked for Gordon Ramsey you can be safe in the knowledge that you will enjoy some amazing food.
The Yard Restaurant serves fine Italian cuisine with a tasty modern slant. Diners can enjoy Gnocchi Alla Arrabiata, Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese, Agnello Arrosto and steak of the week, or the popular Yard burger.
The eatery offers free off-street parking and is wheelchair accessible meaning older people and others who struggle with their mobility can easily visit the restaurant without worrying about getting around.
Best accessible tours
Getting around the ancient city of Chester to see all the sights as part of a tour is easier than many people think as there are lots of accessible tours available. Here’s some of the best.
Chester Heritage Tours
As the ancient city of Chester is steeped in history visitors should go on the accessible Chester Heritage Tours. Visitors can get on a Late-Edwardian omnibus for a trip around this 2,000-year-old city and learn about the Romans, Vikings, Tudors and Victorians. Those on the tour will also be able to get fascinating insights into the architecture, the wars and battles that took place in the area, sports and events and learn about the bridges, canals and locks.
Despite the age of the bus, the tours are accessible to those with mobility problems and visitors can see all the sights and attractions the city has to offer whilst comfortably sitting on the bus.
People looking for a slightly different tour can cruise along the River Dee with Chester Boat, which offers sightseeing tours and themed cruises.
Cruising along the River Dee is seen as one of the most relaxing activities you can do in Chester and passengers can go on half-hour city cruises, afternoon tea cruises or go on private charters too. The tranquil half-hour cruises will take passengers upstream, under the suspension bridge, past Grosvenor Park and the Earl’s Eye to the rolling meadows.
Passengers with mobility problems can access the ships via wheelchair accessible ramps and staff will also be able to help guests down or up any steps that are on the ship. Most steps do have handrails for passengers who are able to walk, but need support when walking and the landing s have been designed so there will be the smallest possible step to and from the vessel. The only ship that is not wheelchair accessible is ‘The Jackie’, although passengers can use a ramp to board.
Deva Tuk Tuk
To see the city in the most unique way visitors can go on the Deva Tuk Tuk tours, the city’s first and only autorickshaw Tuk Tuk. Visitors with mobility problems who are unable to walk around the city for long periods should seriously consider going on a historical tour with Deva Tuk Tuk. Guests can privately hire the vehicle.
Prices to ride on the Tuk Tuk start from as little as £15 and the three-wheeled vehicle can reach speeds of 40mph.
Go to the races
Even visitors who are not that interested in horse racing will appreciate watching a race at the famous Chester Racecourse. Here people can sample the thrill of watching top-class racing and at the same time enjoy great food and beverages at the different enclosures.
People with mobility problems shouldn’t be concerned about visiting as the venue is very accessible. There is level access from the car park to the side of the racecourse and there are lots of wheelchair bays for visitors heading here via car.
The different stands offer lifts to racegoers with mobility issues and there are lots of accessible toilets available. So cheer your favourite horse onto victory at the Chester Racecourse.
Watch a show at an open air theatre
The Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre is one of the UK’s most-loved theatres and the theatre usually opens from the start of July and closes towards the end of August.
Lots of top-quality shows are held here and, being located in Grosvenor Park in the heart of Chester, it means the theatre is just a short walk away.
Previous shows include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet and the Wind in the Willows.
There are accessible toilets and disabled parking on offer at nearby car parks for theatregoers, making the theatre accessible for people with mobility problems.
Image credits: Kevin Crumplin.
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