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Great accessible UK weekend breaks: Plymouth

25th January 2019

Known as Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth is a vibrant waterfront city that is packed full of attractions and things to do. It is for these reasons that it is a popular holiday destination as there is always something on to entertain you.

In the streets, nearby countryside or marine environment, there are a host of well-known landmarks and historical sites to explore. Plymouth is a really accessible city to visit as well and those of you with mobility problems who need stair lifts at home can visit knowing you will be able to easily get around.

How to get to Plymouth

Plymouth is easily accessible through a variety of links, including road, rail and water.

Travelling to Plymouth by rail

There are a variety of services running from locations all across England, although some of these will require one or two changes. From London, it will take just over four hours on the train and from Manchester, it will take 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Travelling to Plymouth by road

Travelling by car or bus to Plymouth is easy as most driving routes will bring you onto the M5, before merging to become the A38.

Travelling to Plymouth by water

You can sail by ferry to Plymouth from France and Spain as there are regular services to Roscoff and Santander.

Best accessible attractions to visit

Plymouth has lots of great attractions to visit and here are three accessible places you can head to.

National Marine Aquarium

The National Marine Aquarium is one of Plymouth’s major attractions as it will give you a fascinating insight into the underwater world.

It is the UK’s largest aquarium and visitors can explore all of the world’s oceans, from the sea around Plymouth to coral reefs in the tropics.

There is a variety of marine wildlife that you can get up close to with more than 70 sharks, ranging from small catfish to Sand Tiger Sharks. During your visit there will an interactive dive show you can see and a whole host of talks about the ocean and its inhabitants.

Being in the harbour it means visitors can take in some truly stunning views of the coastline and it is not too far away from the city centre.

For visitors with mobility problems, you will be delighted that it is fully serviced by ramps and lifts throughout and all corridors are wide and accommodating. There is free wheelchair hire on offer and carers are eligible to enter for free.

Plymouth Hoe

The Plymouth Hoe Waterfront is a great place to visit as it showcases the best the city has to offer with incredible views across Plymouth Sound.

It is one of the best natural harbours in the world and it is full of fantastic attractions such as the iconic Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse, the war memorials, the Drake statue and the Plymouth Royal Citadel to name but a few.

There are lots of places to eat in the area and every year there are numerous events taking place including the Plymouth Armed Forces Weekend and the British Firework Championships.

The hoe is very accessible as there are Blue Badge car parks, flat access around the promenade, accessible toilets as well as slopes for wheelchair users.

Dartmoor Zoological Park

Dartmoor Zoo is just 15 minutes from Plymouth and is well worth a visit whilst you are in the city.

Set in more than 30 acres of woodland, it features the largest collection of big cats in the region with its Amur Tigers, African Lions, Jaguar and Cheetahs. There are lots of other animals that visitors to the zoo can see including meerkats, otters, monkeys, brown bears, South American Tapir and wolves.

Visitors can enjoy animal encounters, falcon displays and talks at feeding times to learn more about the different animals living at the zoo.

The iconic zoo has even had a Hollywood film based on it and its owner Benjamin called “We Bought A Zoo”, which stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. This takes you through his story of turning a dilapidated wildlife park into the zoo you see today.

If you struggle to walk you can hire wheelchairs and electric mobility scooters at the zoo and by using these, you will be able to access all parts of it. There is also disabled parking close to the entrance and accessible facilities like toilets throughout the zoo.

Best restaurants in Plymouth

There is a diverse number of restaurants in the city; you could eat around the world and try something new every day of your stay. Here are some of the best and most accessible eateries.

Boathouse Café

This award-winning seafood café and restaurant is just a short distance from the historic Barbican and here you can enjoy fresh fish and shellfish caught from the restaurant’s own boat!

The Boathouse Café also boasts a changing menu of meat and vegetarian dishes using locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce.

There is a covered and heated outside space should you want to enjoy dining al fresco and here you’ll enjoy views of Sutton Harbour, Mount Batten and the mouth of the River Plym.

Regarding accessibility, the Boathouse Café is flat and has lots of room for wheelchair users and other diners who suffer from mobility problems to move around.

Rock Salt

The Rock Salt Café & Brasserie is a great place to enjoy a coffee and cake to start the morning or a delicious meal for lunch.

The sign of the former pub says “good, honest food” and this is what the Rock Salt Café & Brasserie has become best-known for.

The eatery uses locally sourced ingredients to cook up famed roasts, breakfasts and even home baked bread. It is so popular that the restaurant even has a rating of 4.5 on Trip Advisor.

What’s more, Rock Salt is spacious and accessible to wheelchair users and although you’ll have to park on the street, it will only be a short walk.

Barbican Kitchen

The Barbican Kitchen is housed in the Plymouth Gin Distillery and was created in 2006 by the Tanner Brothers.

The restaurant is famed for serving fresh local food and diners can take advantage of the meats, vegetables and fish that comes from the Westcountry.

The Barbican Kitchen is accessible to those with mobility problems as the toilets in the foyer are wheelchair-friendly. The restaurant does state that you advise them in advance about any diners with mobility difficulties so they can arrange the tables accordingly.

The restaurant is open from 12-2.30 for lunch from Monday to Saturday or 6-9.30 (Monday to Thursday) and 5-10 (Friday and Saturday).

Best accessible tours

There are lots of accessible tours on offer to visitors with mobility issues and here are the ones highly recommended.

Plymouth Gin Distillery

There are three different tours available at the Plymouth Gin Distillery, subject to availability, and these all include history and production information.

A spokesperson for the distillery described the different tours, “The Distillery tour is £8.50 per adult and lasts 40 minutes with a tasting of our Plymouth Gin and Sloe Gin. The Connoisseur’s Tour is £25 per adult and lasts an hour and a half with a tasting of five Gins including Plymouth Gin and the Master’s Tour is £45 per adult and takes two and half hours with the five tastings and then the making of 200ml of their own gin. Booking is essential on both of the Connoisseur’s and Master’s Tours. All tours finish in the Cocktail Lounge with an opportunity for a complimentary Gin and Tonic or a miniature to take away.”

The Plymouth Gin Distillery has a stair lift to access the tours and a lift to access the Cocktail Lounge. It is best to let the gin distillery know if wheelchair users will be coming on a tour in advance, as there is a limit to only two wheelchair users per tour.

Plymouth Boat Trips

Plymouth Boat Trips offer scenic harbour and naval cruises and this is a great way to see the city from a different angle.

There are a variety of different trips you can go on whilst in Plymouth and these include a dockyard and warship cruise, a Calstock cruise, a River Yealm cruise, a breakwater and coastal cruise, and mackerel and deep-sea fishing trips.

The cruise vessels, the ‘Spirit of Plymouth’ and ‘Plymouth Venturer’ are wheelchair accessible and these ships both have disabled access toilets on board. Those with mobility issues should check to see which vessel will be used before embarking on your trip.

The crew for every trip will be on hand to help passengers with mobility problems board the ship and give assistance during the entire trip.

Plymouth Land Train

The Plymouth Land Train was shut during 2018, but it is back in 2019 and the new model will be more environmentally friendly!

Plymouth’s first land train will take you on a route full of history with stories about privateers and smugglers, explorers and adventurers. The tour will tell visitors about how this diverse city has changed through the ages.

Some of the things you can see and do during the trip include the iconic Guildhall, the Barbican, Smeaton’s Tower, the West Hoe Fun Park and the Plymouth Hoe as well.

The tour takes around 40-minutes and is a great way to look around the city for visitors with mobility problems or those with children.

Other activities

Watch a show at the Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the largest in the region with three performance spaces: The Lyric, The Drum and the Lab.

Visitors can watch a wide range of productions including classic and contemporary drama, musical performances, ballet and other dance shows.

The live shows are accessible to everyone and there are spaces for wheelchair users and carers located at all three performance stages. There are also a number of places which are accessible to visitors who wish to transfer from their own wheelchair or walking aid and into a seat, but you’ll need to inform the theatre beforehand, so a member of staff can aid you.

The car park also boasts lots of disabled spaces and there are accessible toilets on all four floors.

To find out about the latest performances taking place, check out the theatre’s what’s on page.

Explore Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park

The former home of the Earls of Mount Edgecumbe, the Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park is set within 865 acres on the Rame Peninsula in South East Cornwall.

The attraction is just a short trip away from Plymouth city centre and visitors can explore the historic house and the incredible Grade I Cornish gardens.

The park is open throughout the year and the free area of the park is home to the popular National Camelia Collection and other formal gardens.

Visitors with mobility problems can benefit from special access to the house and there are disabled car parks and accessible toilets located in the Orangery Restaurant, Dry Walk, Barrow Centre and Rame car parks.

Take a look at some other accessible weekend breaks in the UK here:

Image credits: Shayne House

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing