Beach wheelchairs and facilities

Summer holiday season is here so we’re looking at beach access and facilities on offer.

Bournemouth accessible beach hut and wheelchair
Credit: Bournemouth Tourism
With summer under way, beach wheelchairs are available to hire around the country. They have specially adapted features that make it much easier to move over sand. Various locations around the country give people the chance to explore beaches and dunes, some who haven’t accessed the beach for some time.

Grants

In February, Beach Access North East won a £3,000 grant from Newcastle Building Society. The donation enabled the charity to purchase a ‘Freedom Trax’ all-terrain electric wheelchair. This means that two wheelchairs and a floating chair are now available at Tynemouth Longsands. There are two wheelchairs at Blyth South Beach. Two longer leg length three-wheeler chairs are for hire on both beaches. These beach wheelchairs have large pneumatic wheels, allowing them to slide over sand and rocks easily.
Credit: Beach Access North
The North East charity run by volunteers is helping to improve access to beaches in Blyth, Whitley Bay, Tynemouth, Newbiggin and North Shields. Caroline Corfield, one of the charity’s co-founders, said: “Our aim is to give as many people as possible the chance to access these wonderful natural environments. “We’ve seen our numbers gradually growing, and we’ve found that the more visible our service is on the beaches, the more interest we get from potential new users. Having this new all-terrain wheelchair is a brilliant addition to our equipment list.”
Credit: Beach Access North

Accessible beaches and wheelchair walks

Information website Disability Grants provides a helpful map (scroll to the bottom of the page) and further information on locations where beach wheelchairs are available for hire. Beaches including Brighton and Hove have two all-terrain beach wheelchairs for hire in two hour slots. You can book up to a week in advance or on the day with the Seafront Office. Brighton has Changing Place toilets available in two locations: The Level, St Peters Place and the Brighton and Hove Albion, Village way. Mobi-mats (portable beach access mats) are for hire at Sandbanks beach (Poole), giving wheelchair users easier access onto the beach. These can be hired Easter to September on a first come first served basis, with a £50 cash deposit. If you’re holidaying with a wheelchair, numerous online resources list recommended accessible routes, including Motability or wheelchairtraveling.com. Pembrokeshire coast National Park has 16 specially adapted routes for wheelchair walks and five adventure wheelchair walks. The National Park Authority has improved a number of the routes, however some will require all terrain wheelchairs.

Beach huts

Bournemouth has invested in making its’ seafront accessible. The most recent development being the unique beach huts at Bournemouth’s Boscombe Beach. They provide wheelchair users with a fully accessible public toilet, internal shower unit and electric mobility scooter charger. Each hut is equipped with four chairs, a table, split level work surface, gas stove, lockable cupboards and a shared drinking water tap.
Credit: Bournemouth Tourism
There are a number of accessible beaches in Dorset and one beach has a fully accessible beach hut for hire (£7 per day). This changing facility for children with disabilities on Weymouth Beach has been in use since 2013 and has won council approval for continued seasonal use, March to October. If you know of any other great locations with accessible beaches, let Disability Grants know. Julia Tyrrell, Founder of Disability Grants, said: “The number of beach wheelchairs available for hire continues to grow around the UK. We are grateful to our visitors who let us know about new projects and facilities. “We also try to add additional details such as disabled toilets/changing places toilets and access, as it all helps when planning days out and holidays.  So please do continue to let us know about your experiences as it is only with your support we can continue to help others.” Click here for our previous pieces on beach wheelchairs and beach huts and Changing Places toilets.  
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