One of our favourite accessible travel bloggers here at Blue Badge Protector is the fabulous Carrie-Ann Lightley. Her down to earth, honest and insightful travel blogs are full of information and take the guessing out of travelling in/with a wheelchair. Sometimes knowing ahead what is possible or likely can really take the stress out of travelling. With her kind permission we have recreated her blog on travel in Northumberland. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and why not consider visiting her site or following her on social media?
Northumberland by Wheelchair
Glorious weather, the friendliest welcome, cosy, accessible accommodation and delicious food – my recent weekend in Northumberland was an absolute delight.
Disclaimer: My accommodation, attraction visits and food were provided on a complimentary basis for the purposes of this review. This is an honest review and my opinions, as always, are entirely my own. This review is entirely based on my personal experience of staying at the Amble Inn, as a manual wheelchair user who is able to transfer, and is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to accessibility at the hotel.
I’ve said in many times – accessible travel can be so difficult. But sometimes, sometimes everything falls into place, the stars align and you have an experience that makes you feel utterly grateful to be alive and able to travel. A combination of a freak February heatwave, some amazing hospitality, and stunning new places to discover with my husband and dog by my side made our first ‘family’ trip of 2019 just perfect.
The Amble Inn is the Inn Collection Group’s newest property – a contemporary seaside pub with rooms, opened in January 2019. The Inn is accessible, family friendly – with a children’s play area – and dogs are welcome in designated areas and rooms. There’s free on-site parking, including designated blue badge bays.
Cosy yet contemporary, the Amble Inn’s accessible rooms look and feel gorgeous. They’re seriously spacious, with a huge comfy bed. Tea and coffee, hairdryer, TV, desk and free WiFi all available. For those travelling with a larger party or a carer/PA, there are connecting doors to adjacent bedrooms.
I really enjoyed my stay – the only improvement I’d suggest wouId be to provide more detailed accessibility information on their website, so that guests know what to expect before they arrive.
Places to VisitThe unseasonably glorious weather meant that we spent most of the weekend outdoors, which was just lovely, and ideal for the dog. Pretty unbelievable not to need a coat in February!
Corbridge Roman Town – Hadrian’s Wall
Corbridge was once a vibrant community – the most northern town in the Roman Empire. Generations of people from different cultures and backgrounds lived, loved, worked and traded within the town. Today the site, run by English Heritage, is home to a museum and visitor centre, as well as excavated ruins of the town itself. The museum exhibits fascinating finds including armour, tools, weaponry, wax writing tablets and papyrus.
The site is mostly accessible with a gravel path to west and east – I know gravel is difficult for some wheelchair users, thankfully my FreeWheel and power pack handled the surface well. The main street of site is uneven, split level with loose stones and gravel but forms part of the historic remains. Accessible toilets and blue badge parking spaces are available, as well as audio tours and facilities for assistance dogs. Picnic benches with extensions for wheelchair users to roll under finished off our visit really nicely, we enjoyed a coffee in the sunshine.
Northumberlandia, ‘the Lady of the North’ is a piece of public art built into the landscape of Cramlington. It forms a 100 foot high sculpture of a lady. There are four miles of footpaths on and around the landform, along with a café and visitor centre.
Entry is free, blue badge parking and accessible toilets are available.
On this particular Saturday, Northumberlandia was a dog walker’s heaven. We stuck to the flat, low- level paths as it was rather muddy, making the slopes difficult for my power pack to handle. It was still a lovely, long walk with some gorgeous views. As the sun dropped we warmed up at the café with hot chocolate and cake – seriously yummy millionaires shortbread.
Amble Harbour Village
A 15 minute walk from the Amble Inn brings you to the town’s harbour, known as the friendly port. Redeveloped in 2015, the harbour village consists of 15 small retail 'pods' selling a variety of art, crafts, jewellery, accessories, food & drink, a seafood centre selling locally caught seafood and a lobster hatchery. My absolute favourite was the cheese hut, a cheese lover’s dream! Every Sunday the harbour holds a busy market, and it’s such a nice place to wander round admiring the stunning coastal views.
St Marys Inn
As well as the Amble Inn, we had a gorgeous meal at St Marys Inn near Morpeth. Real fires and cosy corners give a relaxed and informal atmosphere, which is the perfect setting to enjoy the unfussy, honest food. I had the most delicious, huge portion of fish and chips. They love dogs at St Marys, ideal as Poppy is quite sure that everyone must adore her! The bar and restaurant has level access throughout, including an accessible toilet.
My main takeaway from my first trip to Northumberland was, why haven’t I been before?! Everyone we met was so friendly, I can’t wait to return and explore the stunning north east coast some more.