Trust properties across Scotland are more accessible than you might think.
WORDS: PAUL F COCKBURN
Dundee & Angus
email@example.com; 01241 856761
This working water-powered mill is a rare example of Scotland’s industrial heritage: according to reviewer EdinBlue, access is by a short pathway from the car park, although “if you can’t manage the incline you can park by the bridge over the burn alongside the mill if you get in touch before arrival.”
Once down on the level around the mill you can “enjoy the views, sit on the grass and even take a picnic”. Wheelchair users “can explore the ground floor and get a great sense of the milling process. A great place to visit and enjoy the countryside.”
Battle of Bannockburn Experience
Loch Lomond, the Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley
firstname.lastname@example.org.; 01786 812664
The multi-award-winning Battle of Bannockburn Experience aims to give its visitors an opportunity to “stand shoulder to shoulder with Robert the Bruce on the site of his greatest victory”. Euan’s Guide reviewer Raineach reports that the 3D exhibition and outside spaces are definitely wheelchair accessible, though the former “is quite loud, dark and uses 3D glasses and effects which might be difficult for some people. It is possible to miss out this stage however and get information on boards outside about Bannockburn”. Reviewer BWP added that the visitor centre was “spacious, bright and easy to move around in.”
Brodie Castle (The Playful Garden)
email@example.com; 01309 641371
Once home to one of Scotland’s most prominent families, the magnificent turreted Brodie Castle is arguably best known now for its gardens, and a collection of more than 400 varieties of daffodil. According to reviewer DWP, while “access can often be difficult if not impossible” within the buildings itself, “there can still be lots to see and do” within its grounds—and this was before the opening of the Castle’s new Playful Garden, which provides fun for all the family, from multi-sensory features and musical instruments to a huge 6.5-metre rabbit, reflecting the Brodie family’s history and eccentricity!
Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate
Aberdeen City & Shire
firstname.lastname@example.org; 01330 844525
With dedicated parking for disabled visitors, Crathes Castle is welcoming for those with either mobility or sensory impairments, according to reviewer BWI. “We asked about access and the ladies were quick to explain the Castle was accessible on the ground floor for my power chair-using friend, the cafe was accessible, as were the gardens and one of the estate walkways. We were made to feel very welcome and has a sense that access had been carefully considered here. I had a great time looking around the rooms, the fabulous painted ceilings, and the gorgeous views from the open windows.”
email@example.com; 01463 796090
The site of the 1745 Jacobite Rising’s brutal conclusion is, according to reviewer E_M_Y_S “one of the best places I have visited for wheelchair and disabled access as it is all flat.” Reviewer BWI added: “Very quickly, once I said I was visually impaired, an audio guide was produced and the staff showed me […] how it worked.” Also, “there was a good contrast between the paths and the heather and moorland of the battlefield.” A hearing loop is available throughout the visitor centre; display information is available in large print and audio visual interpretation within the exhibition.
Culzean Castle & Country Park
Ayrshire & Arran
firstname.lastname@example.org; 01655 884455
This cliff-top masterpiece by Robert Adam towers above woods, beaches, secret follies and play parks—an ideal destination for those interested in gardens, architecture or history. Information is available in large print, while a Talking Guide App (available for iPhone and iPad) guides you from room to room giving you an overview of the people who lived and worked in the castle and estate. Wheelchair and power chair users will find only parts of the surrounding Country Park accessible; according to reviewer E_1_Y_S “some woodland paths can be boggy”. There’s an induction loop in the auditorium.
email@example.com; 01855 811307
Glencoe is still remembered chiefly as the site of the infamous Massacre, in which British soldiers murdered their Highland hosts on orders of the Government, but there’s much more to experience in the surrounding area. The Trust’s award-winning visitor centre will reopen in April 2019 after four months’ refurbishment, making it an even better source of information on the glen, its wildlife and the families who lived here. There is a hearing loop at some exhibition points and also at the reception desk. The popular “Land Rover Safaris” of the surrounding National Nature Reserve are accessible to wheelchair users.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 01350 728641
Here you can make your way among giant Douglas firs, which are some of the tallest trees in Britain. According to power chair user HollieRoMo, the lower car park has designated disabled spaces, and nearby there’s “a nice little (takeaway) cafe which I could access”. Arguably the main attraction is the thunderous Black Linn Falls, which she “had absolutely no problem getting to! The paths are nature walks so there are some uneven bits, roots sticking up, rocks etc, but it wasn’t an issue. I had no problems really! It is a beautiful place and I would totally recommend it.”
The Hill House
Argyll & The Isles
email@example.com; 01436 673900
This unique example of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work – successfully mixing Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Scottish Baronial and Japanese styles – is currently closed, pending construction of the “box” that will act as a giant shield covering the entire building – restored to look as it did in 1904 – and preserving this unique architectural achievement for future generations. The building is expected to reopen in April 2019. There is ramped entrance at the rear of the house, with level access to the drawing room, main hallway, dining room, gift shop and tearoom. Information sheets are currently available concerning the wheelchair-inaccessible upper floor.
Inverewe Garden & Estate
InvereweGarden@nts.org.uk; 01445 781229
Located where the Gulf Stream meets the Scottish Highlands, this heritage garden provides a year-round calendar of colour and scents, cultivated with care and creativity. According to reviewer marg15, it’s an example of the “National Trust (for Scotland) at its best”, with level or ramped access to both the dirt gravel paths in the Gardens, and Restaurant. “There is a laminated guide which shows all wheelchair accessible paths and any problems you might encounter. I went in my power chair—there were ends of some paths I couldn’t reach but which a stronger wheelchair or scooter would cope with.”
Edinburgh & The Lothians
0131 665 1546
This tranquil oasis on the western outskirts of Edinburgh is, according to reviewer warnesdj, “a very peaceful place” and a visit “could be combined with a wheelchair walk along the section of the Water of Leith from Balerno to Currie.” There’s an accessible entrance (with a gate which swings inwards) by the private Malleny House; in the Garden, “paths are all of small compacted gravel and offer mostly easy going. There is a slope down to the lower end of the garden and I think it would be manageable for a fit person self-propelling in a non-power chair.”
Greater Glasgow & Clyde Valley
firstname.lastname@example.org; 0141 616 6410
One of the Trust’s grandest properties, this country house, to the south of Glasgow City Centre, offers a real glimpse of 19th century life “Upstairs, Downstairs”. Blue badge parking is available in front of Pollok House, with additional spaces in the lower courtyard on the West side of the house, where you can find an accessible entrance: note that this is not normally staffed, so it’s important to phone ahead. From this entrance there is level access to the servants’ quarters and the Edwardian Kitchen café, and a lift can take you to the main floor of the upper house.
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Ayrshire & Arran
email@example.com; 01292 443700
The museum dedicated to Scotland’s national poet has, according to reviewer garys, “level access throughout, with a wheelchair entrance to the left of the rotating door. Shop and restaurant has good space to manoeuvre.” Burns’ actual birthplace “is 10 minutes walk away via the Poet’s Path, which is very flat and accessible and decent surface to wheel on. The cottage is accessible, and tho (sic) small, worth going to. It is quite bumpy once inside due to the floors being cobbled stones and a bit uneven but nothing to worry about. In the museum there is large print available.”
Dumfries & Galloway
You can enjoy nature in all its glory along one of the country’s prettiest stretches of coastline, with Rockcliffe Beach in particular, according to reviewer DaisyDoo, providing “Benches to sit and stare out to sea… A small beach so it’s perfect just to chill out for half an hour!” She reports that there’s one allocated disabled parking space in the Rockcliffe Beach car park; and, while there are no all=ability paths on the property, there is “a good ‘promenade’ running the length of the beach—step free and with plenty of places to stop and take in the view.”
Threave Garden & Estate
Dumfries & Galloway
firstname.lastname@example.org; 01556 502575
This haven for wildlife is, according to reviewer themousseman, “a real joy to visit at any time of the year. Access is easy on foot, but there are some fantastic mobility scooters available. All they ask for is a donation for maintenance, etc. Access generally to the shop and cafe is on the flat, straight from the car park a few steps away.” With seating all around the gardens, there are “plenty of rest spots”, but also “some steep walks if you’re fit enough”. Reviewer Vee3469 added that almost the whole site is accessible: “maps showing scooter routes are available”.
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Helping Other Visitors
Euan’s Guide is an online access guide written by the real experts—disabled people and their families, sharing knowledge and discoveries about places to visit.
Established in 2013 by Euan MacDonald, a powerchair user, and his sister Kiki, Euan’s Guide now includes thousands of disabled access reviews and listings for attractions and facilities across Scotland, the UK and beyond.
Adding information is easy. If your favourite Trust property is not included, why not add your own review? Head to: www.euansguide.com
First published by the National Trust for Scotland Magazine.