Planning a short break or holiday, or even family days out with elderly parents can seem daunting. However, most attractions aim to be as welcoming as possible, simply check on their websites before you visit to find out about their accessibility policies.
Many offer wheelchairs and increasing numbers of attractions have lifts and handrails or step-free access for anyone with mobility problems. It’s worth asking for fast-track admission too if available, particularly if there are lengthy queues, as it could save frustrating delays for you and your parents.
Norfolk is a particularly good place to visit with older parents or relatives, as the landscape is so flat!
Well worth a visit, even if you’ve been before as the estate has changed a lot in the last five years!
Of course the magnificent 18th century hall and walled garden hasn’t gone anywhere! But now you can visit the Field to Fork Experience, take a tractor trailer tour around the estate, exhaust the grandchildren in the play area and if you’re so inclined take a boat out on the lake. Finish off by treating yourself to some yummy locally-sourced food at the Courtyard Cafe and visit the gift shop showcasing the work of local artisan suppliers.
Enjoy a summers evening up at Holkham as they offer a varied programme of events such as chamber music and opera in the Marble Hall, open-air concerts in the park and outdoor theatre in the courtyard.
Click HERE for full information on accessibility and to find out what’s on across the year.
2) North Norfolk Railway – The Poppy Line
Many elderly people relish the opportunity to remember days gone by and the Poppy Line steam train experience is a nostalgic reminder of this romantic form of transportation. The Poppy Line takes passengers on a scenic journey through the North Norfolk countryside and coast from Sheringham to Holt. Along the way, there are quaint stations to visit, along with exhibitions and artefacts from the days of steam travel. Look out for special events too, such as steam dining trains, fish and chip specials and themed days celebrating the 1940s.
Designed by Humphry Repton in 1812, Sheringham Park Gardens is now owned by the National Trust. The park is renowned for its azaleas and rhododendrons, but if they’re not in bloom at the time of your visit, you can still make the most of the spectacular views across the Norfolk coastline. There are plenty of walks to be enjoyed here and for the less mobile there are Personal Mobility Vehicles available to hire and a marked accessible route through the parkland. The well-equipped visitor centre has three wheelchairs to borrow, to allow everyone access to the interactive exhibition.
No visit to Norfolk is complete without a trip on the Norfolk Broads. A National Park, the Broads are a vast area of protected wetlands to the east of Norwich, incorporating rivers, canals and the shallow ‘broads’, which are surrounded by marshes and reed beds. This beautiful natural environment is a haven for wildlife watching too. The good news is that many walks and boat trips on The Broads are now accessible for wheelchair users.
You can get a good idea of what’s on offer for wheelchair users and the accessibility of The Broads by watching this Access All Areas video.
A fascinating place to reminisce over wartime memories, the Muckleburgh Military Collection sits on the site of a former anti-aircraft training centre at Weybourne. Billed as the biggest private museum of military paraphernalia in the UK, you can view displays of military vehicles, including armoured cars and tanks. The vast collection includes machine guns, artillery, missiles, weapons, uniforms, documents and photographs.
Felbrigg Hall is a 17th-century house with an impressive collection of furniture and paintings. The house and grounds also feature a Gothic library, restored walled garden and working dovecote, while the parklands are also worth a visit for their spectacular trees.
A must-see for Dad’s Army fans, Bressingham Steam and Gardens features a recreation of Walmington-on-Sea, where the Home Guard of the series lived and worked. There are also steam trains running on four miles of narrow-gauge track, to take you and your loved one around the beautiful gardens in style.
A vast Norman building boasting Romanesque architecture, Norwich Cathedral is reputed to be one of the finest in the country. Explore the building and view the on-site exhibitions, before taking in the Japanese and Herb Gardens. Level access is available through the Hostry Visitor Centre and the South Door, and wheelchairs are available if booked in advance.
Accessible by train and with plenty of beach side parking, Cromer is one of those wonderful places which instantly transports you back in time. Wheel chair accessible ramps make it easy to access the long promenade and pier where you can enjoy a spot of crabbing or simply watch the world go by with the best fish n chips in Norfolk!
The Hotel de Paris sits proud above the promenade and is a great place to enjoy a drink and breath in the nostalgia of days gone by.
The RNLI Life Boat station is also well worth a visit but you must book in advance as the tours are run by volunteers, see HERE for more information. Also the Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum on the East promanade and learn about ‘the greatest of the lifeboatmen’, who gained national fame in the first half of the 20th century when navigation around the Norfolk coastline was particularly hazardous in easterly gales.
A wildlife garden thriving in an ancient woodland, there are 130 acres of cultivated, wild and natural plantings – an absolute haven for any wildlife enthusiasts.
Fairhaven is a great day out for all the family – the garden, tea room, gift shop, plant sales and one of the boats is fully accessible and has hearing loops installed. Their sensory garden has been created with the mobility and visually impaired visitors in mind. Three mobility scooters and two wheelchairs available to visitors.
Norfolk is a beautiful county and has many paths for walking – both coastal and inland. The Norfolk Coast Partnership has information on many Easy Access Walks in Norfolk’s Nature Reserves and Country Parks. National Trails have also produced this helpful wheelchair guide to the Norfolk Coastal Path.
The Open Britain website allows you to search for accessible accommodation in the county using a checklist of your needs.
You can also find lots of useful information on the Accessible Countryside website – which has a special section on tourism in Norfolk.
The fine historic city of Norwich is working towards becoming Dementia Friendly and we have some great organisations and businesses pledging to make their environments more accessible. If you’re planning a visit Norwich, see our page below on ‘Making Norwich Dementia Friendly’ to get lots of advice on dementia friendly places to eat and visit.
We also recently did a little bit of research on dementia friendly places to eat in Norfolk (we love our job), check out our blog below – Dining out with Dementia and you might be able to coordinate lunch with a visit to one of these lovely places!