It had occurred to me that after all this rain, Fairburn Ings might be flooded but it was a lovely sunny day so we thought we’d go anyway.
Fairburn is quite near Ledsham where we have been to the
Chequers Inn on many occasions and is easily accessible from the A1.
The Ings are managed by the RSPB and they have reclaimed
former coal mine spoil tips to create different types of habitats for a variety
The paths are generally quite fine gravel and there are also boardwalks. Most of the boardwalk areas were inaccessible due to flooding but the small bit we were able to do, part of the duck and swan feeding platform, was a great surface. We could have explored much further around the site than we did but it would have involved a long and quite steep slope so we just admired the view and turned around. There are various hides, all of which have level entry. There is really good access information on their website.
The visitors’ centre has level access and a power-assisted door
and sells lots of RSPB gifts as well as birdfeeders and food. It doesn’t have a
cafe but it does have a coffee machine and snacks and a little seating area
where you can eat or drink. There are loos including a unisex accessible one.
The staff member who welcomed us was really helpful,
pointing out on the map which parts of the Ings were best for wheelchair users
and which were not flooded!
Entry is free for members of the RSPB and for Blue Badge
holders (non-members are charged £4 per car).
This is definitely a place to revisit once the floods have
The Van Gogh Immersive Experience was lovely, visiting that part of town
for the first time in years was not as great as expected.
The Van Gogh Immersive Experience has come to York having
previously been in Brussels and elsewhere – it’s at St Mary’s Church,
Castlegate, next to the Jorvik Viking Centre.
The main event is the 35 minute Immersive Experience where
you are, indeed, immersed in 360° projections of Van Gogh paintings accompanied
by music and some voice-over. They are not just static paintings though: windmill
sails rotate, trees and flowers blow in the breeze, rain falls, a train passes
through a sunny landscape and yes, you become enveloped in a starry, starry
night. They make imaginative use of the space, sometimes projecting different
pictures between the pillars, at other times one picture fills the room and you
are part of the landscape.
I think their
website said that it was wheelchair accessible but didn’t have
information about who could get a concession and whether an accompanying carer
could go free. I e-mailed them to enquire and they asked me to forward my
booking confirmation so they could make a note that I would be accompanied; this
all seemed a little complicated so I suggested they update their website
information to make all this clear and they have! Result! The staff on duty at
the venue were very helpful.
There is ample Blue Badge parking fairly nearby in the
Castle Carpark by Clifford’s Tower. The route between the two is a bit bumpy
but not too drastic – we came via the road as it’s a quiet one and the dropped
kerb at the top of the slope near the church is quite a good one. If your
wheelchair is too big to manoeuvre around to the entrance, you could go in the
exit. The seating was mainly deckchairs which was a jolly idea but many people
were struggling to get in and out of them, plus there were a couple of wooden
Unfortunately, the second part of the experience was in a
room up a small, steep little slope that my chair couldn’t cope with (I think
the stabiliser wheels back got caught in the angle as it was so steep). What we
missed was mainly some activities for kids, so that didn’t matter to us but
there was also some virtual reality headsets (at an extra cost) which I was
really looking forward to as I’ve never tried virtual reality so I was very
disappointed but I guess it can’t be helped: it’s an old building. It might be
that they could have tried a bit harder, though, it was a really steep slope
for anyone on wheels.
Afterwards, as the rain held off, we had a look round Coppergate
Walk as I have not been there for years. It was very busy and I don’t want to
do York down, but it was a bit scruffy, very commercial, with pop-up food
outlets and somewhat rubbish strewn. The sloping pavement meant that the
entrance to the Body Shop has a small step so wasn’t accessible. I wasn’t
worried about The Whisky Shop, the jewellers or the umpteen cafés but we were
able to pop into Boots and Fenwick’s which has changed mightily since I was
last there. The fabulous selection of greetings cards that they used to have on
the ground floor has now been moved to the lower ground floor and wasn’t quite
so fabulous anymore but there is a very spacious lift to get you there.
I have mixed feelings about being in town: it was good to
see some once-familiar places, but on the other hand a lot of the things you
can get in town, you can also get out of town where, as well as being more
accessible, is a lot less crowded. We used to be a bit snotty about out-of-town
shopping but now realise how incredibly convenient it is for anyone other than
the very mobile. On the whole, I can live without looking round shops anyway!
Do visit the Van Gogh if you can – it’s beautiful, it’s
different and it’s fun.
Roses, lupins, clematis, goslings… there’s plenty going on in
It looked more well-tended than sometimes when we visited
the other day and, as ever, the mix of tree types is very striking: copper
beeches contrasting with the greenery. There have been some improvements in the
pathways, various uneven bits have been smoothed.
There are always plenty of interesting things to look out
for. On our visit there were goslings, moorhen chicks and ducklings and all the
installations which make the park so varied such as the duck house on the pond,
the ‘chess-piece’ horse that small children love to scramble on, the totem pole
and the helmet. There is of course, the more traditional play equipment and the
skateboard park and there is even a boat selling ice creams across the river!
I used to always use my scooter when we went to the park, but
actually my Powerchair handles all the surfaces absolutely fine, even the
slight bump at the flood barrier.
Lovely as The Homestead is, you can make a longer visit at Rowntree Park because of the paths by the river. These are a little rougher than the paths within the park and the cycle path heading out of town is rather bumpy with tree roots but not too bad. I understood that was going to be fixed, perhaps it will be soon.
It’s always a pleasure to visit Rowntree Park and the riverside paths.
Bridlington has never been my favourite Yorkshire coast resort: Scarborough has more to do, Robin Hood’s Bay and Sandsend are more charming, Whitby is more dramatic, but Bridlington has what they don’t: a wonderful stretch of accessible promenade!
It was the most gloriously sunny day when we visited, though very chilly, and lots of people were enjoying it, including wheelchair users and a lady who came up and enquired about my Luggie scooter – I did such a great sales job, I should ask for commission!
On the one side you could smell the seaweed while on the other there were shrubs and bushes so you felt well away from the road.
There were some Blue Badge parking bays with smooth access to the prom, but they were all full so we used a nearby ordinary bay which just meant a slight ramp of an inch or two to get on the prom.
There were other Blue Badge spaces in the carparks, but I guess in Summer it will be so much busier, I don’t know how easy it would be to get a space. There are Radar-key loos at intervals on the prom – didn’t use them so can’t comment, but the spa and no doubt the new leisure centre further along have accessible loos.
As I mentioned in my previous blog about the place we stayed near Bridlington, as towns get done up, they become more accessible: it seems to be the way now to make the transitions between surfaces eg road and pavement, much smoother. This is a vast improvement, as jolting up or down a not-properly-dropped kerb is not pleasant.
Apparently the South Bay has a prom too and the Tourist Office do a guide to accessible places in Beverley, Bridlington and Goole. I can’t spot it on their website, but you could always e-mail them and request it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bempton Cliffs nearby are also accessible – we decided to save that for warmer weather!