Looking for accessible days out in Dorset? It’s a wonderful county for getting out and about. There are plenty of beautiful places, activities and attractions that have made special efforts to welcome people with mobility problems or disabilities.
Across the county, here are our favourite spots for accessible days out in Dorset suitable for the whole family.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens and Swannery
On the Jurassic Coast, the Subtropical Gardens at Abbotsbury are a mixture of formal and informal plants, trees and exotics, world famous for it’s camellia groves and magnolias. Facilities include the Colonial Restaurant, a quality gift shop and a fantastic plant centre where many of the flowers grown in the Garden can be purchased.
Approximately 50% of the Garden is accessible to disabled visitors. There is ramp access to the restaurant. Two manual wheelchairs are available. One companion is admitted free of charge per wheelchair user or visually impaired visitor.
Just along the road, Abbotsbury Swannery is the only place in the world where you can wander through a colony of nesting mute swans on the edge of the Fleet lagoon. The paths at the Swannery are flat and access to all areas in a wheelchair is possible except to the telescope platform.
The Tank Museum Bovington
Perfect for anyone with an interest in military history or a family day out with the grandchildren too. The exhibitions tell the story of armoured warfare from World War One to the present day. All under-cover, the Museum’s six large halls have vehicles that have seen action in all the major wars of the 20th century.
The Tank Museum has level entry or ramped access for wheelchair users throughout. Lifts enable access to the higher floor. There are also disabled parking bays and a wheelchair friendly spectator’s area in the arena. There are also hearing loops on the new audio visual interactives. Guide dogs and Hearing dogs are welcome. There is free entry for a carer accompanying a disabled person.
Find out more at tankmuseum.org
This is a lovely little open space on the side of a river near Christchurch town centre. People go there to watch the clouds, have picnics, play games, stroll through the area, and go boating.
There’s a company called Wheelyboat that has wheelchair accessible boats for you to get out on the water and bask in the glorious views of the area.
You can find more information about the boats here.
A heritage steam and diesel railway running through some of Dorset’s most stunning countryside under the shadow of Corfe Castle.
All Swanage Railway station platforms offer step-free access and Disabled access is available to most trains. Wheelchairs are able to be carried in the Guard’s Van on most services, and if the passenger has some mobility then they can sit in nearby passenger accommodation rather than travel in the Guard’s Van. More info can be found at swanagerailway.co.uk
Durlston Castle and Country Park
Just 1 mile from Swanage is this fabulous 320 acre countryside paradise and National Nature Reserve, consisting of sea-cliffs, coastal limestone downland, haymeadows, hedgerows and woodland.
Trampers are available for hire and an online access guide is available with comprehensive information for visitors with access requirements.
Shire Hall historic courthouse museum Dorchester
Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum brings over 200 years of justice and injustice to life.
Follow in the footsteps of people whose lives were forever changed in the historic court at Dorchester’s Shire Hall. Immerse yourself in the cells before ascending to the dock.
Monkey World Wareham
Set among woodland is 65 acres of sanctuary for over 250 primates. Monkey World was set up in 1987 by Jim Cronin to provide abused Spanish beach chimps with a permanent, stable home. Today Monkey World works in conjunction with foreign governments from all over the world to stop the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia. At the park visitors can see over 250 primates of more than 20 different species.
All of Monkey World is accessible for disabled visitors except for the Woodland Walk, due to the uneven ground. There is a fleet of motorised scooters which can be booked in advance.
Moors Valley Country Park and Forest Ringwood
1000 acres of country park and forest along waymarked footpaths and cycle routes with the scenery of woodland, meadows, lakes and rivers to enjoy. Dogs are welcome too.
Accessible facilities include wheelchair and mobility scooter hire (pre-booking required) and wheelchair bikes. A ‘Changing Places’ standard toilet with height adjustable changing bench and hoist is available at the Visitor Centre. Find out more at moors-valley.co.uk
Brownsea Island Poole Harbour
Famous for red squirrels, wildlife and Scouting, this is a perfect day’s adventure – this National Trust island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore.
Electric buggy tours for the less mobile. All-terrain wheelchairs are available to pre-book from Visitor Reception. Paths leading to the Visitor Centre are fairly level and smooth. Seahorse landing craft provides wheelchair access to the island. Booking is essential. Find out more at national trust.org.uk
Kingston Lacy Wimborne
Kingston Lacy is a lavish family home built to resemble an Italian Palace in the rural Dorset countryside.
Designated mobility parking in main car park, 30 yards to visitor reception. Volunteer driven ‘leg saver’ transfer service from car park to house, sundial in the formal garden, shop and restaurant (subject to availability).
Three self- drive mobility buggies, 2 push wheelchairs (generally best if you are only going to the shop or restaurant) and 2 all-terrain mountain trike push wheelchairs. These can easily access all of the estate accept the Fernery in the formal garden. Pre-booking advised. Accessible lavatory in laundry courtyard. Level access to ground floor of house only.