Due to visit Britain this year? Here are 10 of the best tourist sites suitable for those with mobility issues/
As we grow older, maddeningly, many of us can’t walk as easily or as much as we used to. Yet you don’t have to give up travel because of walking limitations. Uneven terrain, hills, and stairs can be a problem undoubtedly; which means benches to rest a bit and enjoy the view are much appreciated. It just takes a little planning and perhaps some revised expectations to still get the most from your vacation. Here are 10 varied and iconic visits in Britain that are level walking and easy to pace – with a bench and a view always nearby.
St. James’s Park, London
You don’t have to leave London for beautiful gardens. Between Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, St. James’s features gorgeous floral borders and blooms, as well as a long, central pond with resident wildfowl. Broad, paved paths are lined with ornamental plantings and shaded trees, and park benches abound. Get ice cream or cold drink from the signposted kiosks.
Wells Cathedral, Somerset
In England’s smallest city, exquisite Wells Cathedral offers a different experience altogether. There are several fine hotels close to the even lawns of the walled close. Adjacent to the Gothic cathedral is the moated Bishops’ Palace and acres of gardens, as well as the colorful market place. Wells is compact, interesting and very walkable.
Once one of the richest ports in England, the pedestrian-friendly market town on the River Witham is of special significance to Americans. From St. Botolph’s Church, one of the largest parish churches in England, Rev. John Cotton inspired the 1630 emigration to Massachusetts Bay. The Pilgrim Fathers passed this way as well. The town makes much of its historic connections to America and the historic sites are all gathered around the large, colorful marketplace.
Of England’s many historic provincial cathedral cities, York is undoubtedly the richest choice for those with walking limits. Take the train to York Station and catch a taxi to a hotel near the magnificent York Minister. Much of the gorgeous medieval city heart is pedestrianized and level walking. Explore the Castle Museum or the Museum of Yorkshire. Have tea at famous Betty’s, or catch choral evensong at York Minster.
Caerleon, South Wales
Just a couple of miles off the M4 near Newport, Caerleon is one of the most dramatic Roman sites in Britain. There is plenty of convenient parking to explore the headquarters of the Roman 2nd Legion. It is just a short, level walk to the most impressive Roman amphitheater in Britain and the evocative surviving Roman legionary’s barracks block. Wales’ National Roman Legionary Museum is nearby.
One of the prettiest villages in England, Bourton is styled “the Venice of the Cotswolds.” The River Windrush flows gently down the middle of this popular Cotswold village with grassy verges on both sides. There are plenty of places to take tea or lunch (outside, weather permitting). Visit the Cotswold Motor Museum, the Cotswold Perfumery or Bourton’s famous Model Village or just explore the shops – all in close proximity.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
The popular seaside beach resorts can be crowded and jostling, especially during the summer holidays. For all the attractions and a calmer environment with an older crowd, take a day or two at beautiful Eastbourne on the southeast coast. Catch a train at London Victoria for the 90-minute ride to one of the warmest spots in Britain. Stroll the 19th-century pier and the flower-lined promenade. Have tea on a Victorian hotel veranda, or enjoy a concert from a deckchair in the sun.
River Thames, London
Why walk when you can ride? London’s principal highway for centuries was the River Thames – and boats still provide a great way to see the city. Take river cruises and river taxis from Westminster Pier, Charing Cross, Tower Pier or St. Katherine’s Dock. Upriver to Richmond, Kew and Hampton Court or downriver to Greenwich and the Thames Barrier. There are plenty of options for enjoying the history and the riverscape.
Wisley Gardens, Surrey
Just off the M25 at the A3 in Woking, the Royal Horticultural Society flagship garden at Wisley is, as it boasts, one of the world’s great gardens. No one can pretend to see all of its 240 acres of glades and glasshouses in a single visit. On the level, explore mixed borders, cottage gardens, Mediterranean terraces and more. It’s one of the largest plant collections in the world.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
“The Palace of the Peaks” has been the ancestral residence of the Duke of Devonshire since the 1540s and is well worth seeing. Visitor facilities are excellent and it can be done comfortably. The mansion’s ground floor, with its grand staterooms, is easily accessible even if you decline to climb the grand staircase to the upper floor. Then, take the land train for a memorable open ride through the estate’s 105-acre gardens, developed over 600 years.