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.

Castles can be accessible!

Cringletie House, near Peebles

They can when they are Cringletie House in the Scottish borders! It’s a luxurious country house near Peebles with a great restaurant and lovely staff. I can’t really comment on the grounds as the weather was a bit too drizzly to explore but they look very nice!

Cringletie House, near Peebles
Cringletie House, near Peebles

When you arrive there is a ramped entrance then a platform lift to get you up the three steps to the ground floor – not possible with my scooter because of how the lift is situated but it had a seat so I could get off the scooter then back on at the top.

We got a very warm welcome, in fact all the staff were great, and as our room wasn’t ready (we were quite early) we headed to the restaurant for some lunch.

After that we were shown our room which was actually a junior suite so had a couple of armchairs (the rise and recline sort which was fun to play with!) – the website talks of them having just one accessible room but it sounded like they had more than one – they were on the ground floor while there was lift access to the first floor restaurant which has fabulous views.

The room was spacious and comfortable with a large bathroom with roll-in shower, grabrails etc. In fact, they have made huge efforts to make the place disabled-friendly without that impinging on the style and comfort of the place for everyone.

As I said above, the weather wasn’t really appropriate for exploring outside and some of the paths don’t look very suitable but I can’t really comment!

Dinner was very good – several ‘amuse-bouches’ to start with; not terribly good fishcakes then a lovely fish main course and we even found room for dessert as none of the dishes were huge or stodgy.

Breakfast was good although my scrambled eggs very much resembled omelette!

On leaving, the platform lift once again came into play – I could scoot on to it but not off, so a chair was fetched so I could get off and have a seat while Pete manhandled my scooter into position!

It was quite pricey but I would love to go back to such a lovely place where they just take it in their stride that you use a scooter – no one stares or makes a big deal of it, which is just how it should be!

Have a look at my reviews of other accessible places to stay!

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.

Rhododendron time!

Moorlands, York

A friend once told me that our family had a thing about making the most of rhododendron time and I must say I do seem to have a deep-rooted sense that you ought to get out there and see daffodils, bluebells, blossom,

Moorlands, York
Moorlands, York

rhododendrons, roses etc when they are looking their best!

So after not going there for years, we went to Moorlands to the north of York

to see the rhododendrons! It had rained a little that morning so there was the most glorious damp woodsy smell but the sun was now out and so were the birds – there must have been hundreds of them singing their heads off and we very clearly heard a cuckoo calling. There were plenty of rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom but also

Moorlands, York
Moorlands, York

plenty yet to flower so it would be worth visiting in the next couple of weeks.

It is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and it is not large so makes a good short visit – there is a circular route which takes you past a couple of ponds as well as through the woods and for the able-bodied, there’s a bird hide up some steps. There are plenty of benches and carved posts showing you the wildlife to look out for (we spotted a couple of bunnies!) as well as information boards about the wildlife and the history of the place. The YWT also manage Askham Bog which we visited earlier in the year.

In very wet weather I can imagine Moorlands would be very muddy but despite the morning’s rain, when we went it was just damp albeit with a few easily-avoided puddles. The path is mainly just earth: a little uneven in places but nothing drastic, largely flat and with room for passing. The main obstacle is a kissing-gate at the entrance, but I was able to negotiate it on my scooter with a three-point turn. (OK, maybe slightly more than three!) Parking is by the roadside outside the gate – there is space for about a dozen cars and the road is quiet so it was all perfectly easy.

Entrance to Moorlands
Entrance to Moorlands

I definitely recommend this for a visit at any time but especially at this time of year – rhododendron time!

Possibly the best view in the world!

Swaledale
Swaledale
Swaledale

Certainly the best view in Gunnerside, maybe in the whole of Swaledale. If this cottage, the Garth, had been wonderfully accessible I would have been inclined to keep it to myself but as it turned out, it did have its downsides. We booked it through Yorkshire Cottages although you can do it through Owners Direct which has some different and more recent photos.

Getting in and out involves a couple of steps, not very deep ones but no handrail and when wet, rather slippery. Inside was so huge (it sleeps 6) I used my trusty Luggie scooter to get around between rooms! The house was designed to make the most of the fabulous views and has huge windows in every room, most of which look over, up or down the dale.

View from terrace
View from terrace

There is a shower cabinet as well as a bath but with rather a high step up into it, otherwise everything is fine – they obviously take note of comments in the visitors’ book as new sofas and reading lamps have been added. The décor is somewhat dated (actually, very dated!) but it’s all pretty comfortable and very well-equipped. The first evening in a cottage is always cold in our experience, even though this place has central heating rather than storage heaters. There is a real fire, so we stoked that up then didn’t need it the rest of the time as it was perfectly cosy.

The Garth, Gunnerside
The Garth is the cottage with the inverted v shape eaves

I’m not sure about accessible things to do in the area – we did everything there is to do before access was an issue, so looking at the stunning views is the main thing we do now! Anyone wanting recommendations for things to do or where to buy things, do ask. One of the things we did was the route from Langthwaite to Low Row which takes you through the ‘watersplash’ from the opening shots of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ – it’s a fabulous route with amazing views. This is a bit tame but something new we tried was the fish and chip van which comes up the dale and stops in Gunnerside on a Friday night – wow, best we’ve had for a long time. Supporting local businesses is always a good thing! There are of course walks galore, including investigating the industrial ruins of the area’s lead-mining past – it is this mix of natural and industrial heritage which makes the dale so attractive in my view.

So the quest for an accessible dales cottage continues – I was gutted that this one is not really suitable but new cottages appear all the time, so here’s hoping! I hope you like the posed picture with the bottle of wine – not a bad view from your kitchen!

Posed picture from kitchen
Posed picture from kitchen

We drove over the amazing Buttertubs pass to get home – no view this time due to the weather but, trust me, it is staggering.

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 visit to the bog!

Askham Bog

Askham Bog! It’s a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) nature reserve which we’d heard of but never visited until the other day. Some time ago I contacted the YWT to ask about how accessible Askham Bog is and got a helpful reply so we decided to visit and I’m sure we’ll go back to see what it’s like at different times of the year.

If ever you’ve come up the slip road off the A64 to Askham Bar / Tadcaster Road, you may have seem some cars parked on the left – that’s the carpark for Askham Bog. The first part of the path involves a gate and a slightly rough surface but once you are down the slope you are on wooden walkways with wire over them to improve grip and there are passing places and a few benches. I wouldn’t have wanted to try it with my Luggie scooter but my sturdier ‘Bootmaster Plus’ copes better with bumpier surfaces and was fine.

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Askham Bog

The Askham Bog page of the YWT website lists all sorts of flora and fauna you might see including water voles, roe deer and even Exmoor ponies! There are information boards to help you spot things. The path is circular and you are soon back to where you started – it’s not a big visit but for a quick run out for some fresh air, it’s very pleasant and although it’s near the A64 you aren’t too aware of the traffic.

When we went there was a chap from the YWT with membership information who was keen to tell us of other YWT sites which include Moorlands and Strensall Common – more details on the YWT website.

 

If you spotted the typo in my review of The Lime House, the title of this piece is quite appropriate! I corrected it on here of course but it lives forever on Tripadvisor!

Fabulous music venue!

NCEM entrance

Söndörgő are a Hungarian group, comprising three brothers, their cousin and a school friend who play folk tunes from Hungary and other countries on various sized tambura – a mandolin-like instrument  – and also on the flute, clarinet, drum, double-base and various other exotic instruments as well as vocals now and then too. Sometimes quiet and melodic at other times fast and furious, they are versatile and well worth catching if they tour the UK again! Have a taster! CDs were on sale on the night.

NCEM2
NCEM interior (with a different band!)

The National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) is a brilliantly accessible venue with a ramp and then heaps of space inside. OK, the thresholds meant a bit of a bump but nothing drastic and it was easy to find a place to sit then put my Luggie scooter to one side or if you were in a wheelchair you could easily site it at the end of a row or move a chair out of the way. As we entered the auditorium, staff offered to help should we need it. In fact, the evening we were there for Söndörgő, there were three people using wheels of various kinds. There is an accessible loo and leaflets are displayed at a reachable height. They also do refreshments: beer, wine, soft drinks etc before the show and during the interval.

NCEMWe have been to the NCEM many times and have never had a duff experience although we always choose bands with at least four musicians as there was one occasion when there were only three and though lovely, the music did sound a little thin. We have seen some groups which you could describe as ‘early’ music (medieval Spanish) but mostly we’ve see what I guess you would call world music: Indian, Jewish, Eastern European – they have a huge variety! It’s a wonderful venue, being a converted church and with the friendly staff and great music there is always a lovely atmosphere.

http://www.ncem.co.uk/