A visit to the beach is always a great way to enjoy a sunny day, whether you want to soak up the sun and have a paddle or just enjoy the sea air, but for some families who have children with disabilities, the beach is firmly off limits without having the right equipment.
While there are beaches across the UK which state they are accessible, this just may mean there is a ramp to the beach from road level or car park, or that the beach is more shingle that sand, which for most people who are trying to take a wheelchair user to the beach still means it is far from accessible in any meaningful way – unless they have their own all-terrain buggy and any other accessories needed for the day such as a portable hoist.
However, although truly accessible beaches are seemingly few and far between, there are beaches that go a step further, providing specialist wheelchairs with wide tyres for hire or loan that can specifically be used on the beach – helping families enjoy fun in the sun, whatever their needs.
As well as all-terrain wheelchairs that can easily pushed over the uneven shifting sands at a beach there are other things that can make your visit easier too, including ramps, hoists, disabled accessible toilets, concrete slipways or rubber mats that help you get close the ocean.
One of the best, which tops several accessible beach surveys, is Boscombe Beach in Bournemouth. This has a beach wheelchair fitted with balloon tyres – but it is available on a first come first basis. There are also mobi-mats to give wheelchair users sand access, accessible toilets and accessible beach huts to hire. Find more information here about this beach – and others in Bournemouth.
In Wales, Broad Haven beach in Pembrokeshire and Whitmore Bay in Barry Island both have all terrain beach wheelchairs for hire. For more information about these beaches and others in Wales, click here.
In the North East, beach access for all is taken very seriously, with BANE (Beach Access North East) promoting social inclusion, independence an choice for disabled and elderly people across the region. To discover which beaches have beach wheelchairs and other accessories such as hoists and turntables available, please click here
In North Norfolk you can find information about accessible beaches here, including Cromer east beach which has one beach wheelchair that can be pre-booked.
In Scotland, the beach at North Berwick in East Lothian is known to have beach accessible wheelchairs for hire as well as a portable hoist (you’ll just need your own sling), but the Scotland’s Accessible Beach app will take all the detective work out of planning a trip to the beach as it provides all the information you need about what beaches there have to offer. The app, available free of charge from the iStore and Google Play, lists locations and the facilities available, as well as their contact and location details.
Of the many beaches in Northern Ireland, Benone Strand beach, Causeway Coast and Glens, in Northern Ireland have beach mobility equipment available from local charity the Mae Murray Foundation. The charity also has details of other beaches in the region and the facilities available.