Goslings!

Goslings, York University campus

We had a turn round the ‘old’ campus of York University to see the blossom and hoped we’d see some cute wildlife and found that we’d timed it just right to see some goslings at their cutest, before they get too big!

Goslings, York University campus
Goslings, York University campus

There were also ducklings and loads of other water fowl, plus trees coming into leaf, spring flowers and a general sense of everything bursting into life again.

York University campus
York University campus

We parked in the huge carpark off Heslington Lane where there are some Blue Badge spaces where the parking is free. The paths are generally very good – some have a bit of a camber; in places there are chicanes to slow down cyclists; occasionally a path is a bit rough, but there is always an alternative route. Many of the buildings have automatic doors and many have accessible loos in them – some bigger than others. There are often building works going on, but again, there are so many paths and different routes around the campus that you can always avoid them.

York University campus
York University campus

Timing is important – weekends and out of term time is best – then there is more the atmosphere of a public park than a university campus, what with anglers, and kids feeding the ducks.

York University campus
York University campus

Also, there are plenty of interesting things to look at as you go round – information boards, an intricately carved tree stump, sculptures and plenty of benches.

York University campus
York University campus

Definitely worth a visit, especially when there are ducklings, moorhen and coot chicks and goslings to spot!

York University campus
York University campus
York University campus
York University campus

About time I reviewed this…

Breezy Knees, near York

For parks and other outdoor places where the going is a bit rough for the Luggie, I use my Eden Bootmaster Plus (or Kymco Mini as the insurers refer to it). It has a wider wheelbase, so can cope with a certain amount of unevenness while still being fairly compact and with a small turning circle. The Luggie does very well (I used to go to our allotment on it!) but the Bootmaster gives you a much smoother ride and less jolting when going over bumps – it feels safer and more stable.

Breezy Knees, near York
Breezy Knees, near York

There are a few drawbacks – the seat is not very comfortable as it’s at quite an angle, so if you are sitting upright, you aren’t in contact with much of the seatback and I can’t alter the (very sensitive!) speed dial with my right hand while driving. On the plus side, it dismantles into four parts – five if you include the basket on the front which I’ve discarded – none of which are as heavy as the Luggie.

Moorlands, York
Moorlands, York

The seat will swivel to one side although I don’t tend to need to use this feature and you can adjust the tiller so it’s closer or further away from you as you prefer.

Sutton Bank
Sutton Bank

I couldn’t use it at work as it is important to be able to adjust speed quickly when moving amongst crowds of people – for that reason, plus the uncomfortable seat, I wouldn’t really recommend this scooter and besides, I have a new set of wheels, but that’s another story! There are new styles being introduced all the time, so there’s probably something a bit better out there if you are after a compact scooter that will go in your boot.

Askham Bog
Askham Bog

Stopover with history!

New Lanark Mills

We stayed one night at New Lanark Mills on our way back from Scotland to home but it’s worth spending more time here as it’s not just a hotel but a World Heritage site with a visitor centre and plenty to see.

New Lanark Mills
New Lanark Mills

The hotel is in one of the old mill buildings and the rooms incorporate original features which add a bit of character to the otherwise fairly bland bedrooms. They are comfy enough and have good views and gorgeous photos of the site, which is by the Clyde and its waterfalls. We had booked an accessible room, so the bathroom was wetroom style with shower seat and grabrails. After we checked in, someone appeared to explain the emergency evacuation procedure, which I have never experienced before, but it was good to know.

There was a wedding going on but that didn’t impinge on our stay other than some guests’ children bashing on the piano rather tediously during dinner!

Dinner was very good as was breakfast with plenty of choices – better on the cooked stuff than the continental, as ever.

New Lanark Mills
New Lanark Mills

Staff were really pleasant and helpful and the whole place is accessible, if a little uneven outside. There was a speed hump with a notice by it asking people not to park by it as it had a gap so wheelchair users could get by, but guess what? White van parked right in the gap! Managed to get over the hump anyway and the van had gone by the time we came back from seeing the falls, the millrace and other features. It doesn’t affect entry to the hotel. Inside there was a bar (rather loud radio) and lounge (sunny and pleasant) as well as the restaurant and it’s all very easy to get about – they’ve obviously put some thought into access issues and staff were happy to let you sit wherever suited you best.

Definitely recommended for somewhere a little different to stay. Other places we stayed on this holiday are Battlesteads, Cringletie House and Port Selma Lodges.

Port Selma Lodges, Benderloch, Scotland

Port Selma Lodges

Port Selma lodges are two wonderful wooden chalets in a lovely, quiet location with wonderful views which happen to be fully accessible! The pictures on the website don’t do justice to how beautifully done and well-maintained they are. The owners live over the way and obviously look after them carefully and provide everything you could possible want in a holiday cottage as well as leaving you a welcome tray with a bottle of wine, cheese, oatcakes and other goodies, a pint of milk in the fridge and even fresh flowers!

Port Selma Lodges
Port Selma Lodges

Both lodges comprise a double bedroom with en suite wetroom bathroom with grabrails and a moveable showerseat, plus a twin room and a bathroom with shower over the bath; a sitting/dining room/kitchen and a verandah, all accessible (there is a ramp to the front door) and there is more outside sitting space for if you wanted to dine outdoors.

Willie and Jan Orr, the owners, met us when we arrived and had advice on accessible things to do in the area such as the nearby cycle track and made it clear they were happy to be contacted if we needed them.

Their website gives quite a lot of information about things to do such as ferry trips, cafés and so on. We mainly drove around and took in the lovely views, which weren’t spoiled by the rather poor weather at the start of the week – as ever with Britain, you have to grab your moments! There is a cycle track nearby which you can scoot along and get to a viewing point with lovely sea views, there’s an accessible café with wonderful views of Castle Stalker and we visited Dunstaffnage Castle in its harbourslde setting.

We had a thoroughly relaxing week – the sun even put in an appearance and we had at least one fabulous sunset – the lodge faces west.

View from Port Selma Lodges
View from Port Selma Lodges

I found the lodges because of a review on Euan’s Guide which gave a great description and confirmed the good impression I had from the owners’ website.

Definitely a recommended place to stay!

Other places we stayed this Summer: Battlesteads and Cringletie House

By the river in York

Riverside walk, York

It is very pleasant to pootle along by the river in York – the Millennium Bridge gives great views up and down the river, there are benches and information plaques here and there,

Riverside walk, York
Riverside walk, York

viewing platforms which jut out to give good views of the river, there are often rowers to watch or people to wave at on the pleasure boats and it’s all so green and pleasant!

The cycle path heading from the bridge out towards Bishopthorpe is a little bumpy in places where tree roots have raised the tarmac but nothing too drastic and of course, you need to be aware of cyclists coming along! Heading the other way takes you to  Rowntree Park or you could head right along towards the city centre on either side of the river.

Cycle path by the river in York
Cycle path by the river in York

The park is looking lovely just now with roses and clematis on the pergola and the herbaceous borders, if not quite so well-tended as they once were, are still full of colour. The café was busy with people enjoying the view, the kids’ play areas were in full swing and families and dog-walkers were all enjoying this splendid park!

Rowntree Park in Summer
Rowntree Park in Summer

See my general review of Rowntree Park and of the park in spring.

Great Italian restaurant!

Mamma Mia,, Gillygate, York

We’ve been going to Mama Mia’s on Gillygate for years and it’s always good – food freshly made, staff friendly, buzzy atmosphere – we’ve even been treated to late-night liqueurs on occasion! In some restaurants it’s difficult to find something you want on the menu, here it’s difficult to choose because they all sound good – pizza, pasta, meat and fish dishes and the specials nearly always include fabulous fresh mussels!

Now then, access. On our latest visit, we got the cab to pull up right outside but even though we had booked a table near the door it was still a bit of a struggle, so after our meal my partner left the rest of us to chat while he popped home for my scooter as I realised the step at the entrance was only an inch or so high. I don’t think I could have scootered in although a wheelchair would be fine (and the loo is accessible and the furniture all moveable) but scooting out was fine – so easy that I practically ran into our car! All fine in the end! Have a look on Streetview if you don’t know Gillygate. You have to pull up outside – there is no parking, so you need to plan a bit.

For the more agile, there is a lovely patio garden out the back next to the city walls.

I definitely recommend this friendly, accessible restaurant.

Reviews of other accessible restaurants in or near York: The Lime House, GoodramgateMiddlethorpe Hall, YorkCedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa, YorkThe Parsonage Hotel and Restaurant, Escrick, N. Yorks

Fabulous view!

Sutton Bank
Sutton Bank
Sutton Bank

It was voted the best view in Britain – well, I’m always going to prefer the dales to anything else but the view from Sutton Bank is pretty darn good as views go!

We went first to the visitor centre expecting that they would have a leaflet with a map on it but instead a very helpful chap drew us a map and explained where to go. Odd that they didn’t have printed maps – maybe they had run out. The website gives you detailed access details.

There is ample parking and a café within the visitor centre and toilets out in the courtyard including a Radar-key operated accessible one which wasn’t the cleanest but was OK. First time I’ve used my Radar key – at least it confirms that it works!

Anyway, the paths are good – just had a bit of a steep camber in places so you need to keep to the middle but I suppose that’s to help them drain. There’s a circular route of about a kilometre which takes you to the (accessible) viewing point with a chart telling you what you are looking at – all the way to the dales! We stopped to have a picnic there – it was a gorgeous day if a little hazy – and it wasn’t particularly busy although no doubt it’s busier at weekends. You can go on a longer route which takes you to the White Horse – I’m sure we’ll be back to do that another day.

Ducklings!

York University campus

York University campus is a great place for spotting ducks, geese and great crested grebes on the lake and all manner of other birdlife as well as squirrels and rabbits. At this time of year you can spot daffodils, crocuses, hellebores, cowslips, blossom, trees coming out into leaf and, yes, lots of ducklings! The Heslington Lane side of campus which has fewer humans was alive with birdsong when we visited.

I can’t find anything official but as far as I know the public has every right to

York University campus
York University campus

visit the campus, as if it were a public park and visit it they certainly do – obviously it’s quieter and easier to park during the university holidays. Their website explains that disabled parking is free of charge and at evenings and weekends the pay-and-display parking bays are free too.

Generally, the whole campus is accessible, although there are building works going on which restrict access in places, and for anyone who has known the campus for some time, an immense amount of in-fill building, but generally there is an alternative route if one is blocked. The buildings are mainly open and many have accessible loos. (Heslington East, the new campus, is also accessible and has a lake but being so new, it has less interest in the way of trees, shrubs and wildlife).

York University campus
York University campus

Some paths can be muddy and there were plenty of puddles after recent rain when we went, but generally getting around is fairly smooth – just occasionally transitions between surfaces were a bit of a jolt and there’s one steep bit by the lake that I tend to avoid but it’s a big enough campus that missing out a small bit doesn’t matter! There are examples of topiary, the odd bit of modern sculpture and carved tree stumps which all add to the interest as well as information boards about the wildlife.

It’s a very attractive campus with its lake, trees and bridges and a great asset for York to have such a huge expanse of, in effect, managed parkland that everyone can visit.

Another good place to visit for spring flowers is Rowntree Park. York

Spring is springing in Rowntree Park!

Rowntree Park, York
Rowntree Park, York
Rowntree Park, York

Rowntree Park is full of daffodils in bloom and plenty of trees which will soon be blossoming, others which are coming into leaf and there was a coot which looked very much like it was sitting on some eggs!

Rowntree Park dovecote
Rowntree Park dovecote

The park is recovering from the floods around Christmas time and is very muddy in places but the tarmac paths are perfectly accessible although there were a few puddles out on the paths by the Millennium Bridge.

The café is fully accessible, see the Euan’s Guide review.

This is a lovely park to visit at all times of year – see my review from the Autumn.

We’ll definitely be back to see if those chicks have hatched!

A foggy day at Fountains Abbey!

Fountains Abbey in the fog!
Fountains Abbey in the fog!
Fountains Abbey in the fog!

OK, so sunshine would have been great but it was so atmospheric with the abbey ruins looming out of the murk!

Park at the West Gate entrance and this is where you may need someone to help, go to the lodge at the gates and they will show you what to do: they open the gates so you can drive in and park and they bring the scooter to you. (Presumably you could also leave your car in the car park which has blue Badge spaces).

The paths are lovely and smooth and the setting is magnificent. We would have explored further if the weather had been better as the grounds are extensive. Following the main path, you eventually come to the lake at the Studley Royal end – I was looking forward to going along by the lake but at the lodge house here they said you can’t take the scooters along there as they aren’t insured.

Smooth paths at Fountains Abbey
Smooth paths at Fountains Abbey

You can go through the gates and visit the tea-rooms just outside them which also have outside seating. There are various accessible loos in the grounds but I’m not sure if any are big enough to take the scooter so that could be slightly problematic.

They are really fabulous scooters – substantial without being too huge and really easy to use (this is compared to the ones at Roundhay Park).

To book or enquire ring: 01765 608888.

I definitely fancy going back in warmer weather!