News

UK World Heritage Sites and their accessibility

2020-02-17

We are truly blessed in the UK with an incredible amount of exciting attractions to visit. Better still, many of these have wonderful historic worth, being recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. From mysterious, ancient stone structures to iconic castles, this guide highlights some of the very best World Heritage Sites in the country and also details how accessible they for those who might need convenient domestic lifts due to limited mobility.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew Gardens

Accessibility at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • The gardens are largely flat
  • Tarmac paths in most places
  • Cafes and shops all have ramped access
  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters available to borrow
  • Tours for visitors with sensory loss or limited mobility
  • Accessible toilets close to all main attractions, cafes, and gates

We spoke to the team at Kew Gardens about their accessibility, who explained how important accessibility is to them: “It is so important that the Gardens are accessible to all as we want everyone to have an enjoyable time at Kew. As such, we aim to provide the best possible access throughout the gardens, our glasshouses and galleries.”

Full information here. Discover Kew’s community and access programmes here.

What to expect at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site in London, wowing visitors with unique landscapes, vistas, and iconic architecture that stems from every stage of Kew’s history. With the largest collection of living plants in the world, housed in the famous Victorian Palm House and the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world (that boasts 1,500 plant species), you can look forward to a full day out.

Speaking about what she loves most about Kew Gardens, Cory from the travel blog You Could Travel says: “At Kew, there is so much to explore I feel one day might just not be enough. Nowadays, I visit the Botanic Gardens because of the glasshouses, being the area which interests me the most. However, first time I went to Kew, I ended up spending two full days exploring all its corners and attending several speeches and workshops.”

The Roman Baths, Bath

Accessibility at the Roman Baths

  • 90% accessible to wheelchair users
  • Lifts in place but stairs required to certain areas
  • Free carer tickets
  • Level access to most ground floor areas
  • Level access to the shop from Stall Street
  • Accessible toilet
  • Wheelchairs available to borrow

Full information here.

The team behind The Roman Baths spoke to us about the importance they place on making the site as accessible and welcoming as possible: “It has always been our ambition to give everyone the opportunity to come and visit the Roman Baths, whatever their abilities or disabilities, to give them a real sense of what the Romans would have experienced here 2,000 years ago.

“We have created step-free access to 90% of the attraction, with suspended walkways with gentle slopes and the installation of four lifts, reaching almost all the areas of the site. We provide wheelchairs to borrow, a small mobility scooter if someone comes in a large scooter that won’t fit in the lift and stick-stools to take around the site.

“By being accessible and welcoming, we are opening our doors to thousands of people with limited mobility, but not just to them; they come with their family and friends as well. We have found that what is helpful to people with disabilities often helps everyone, for instance, our gently sloping walkways are much easier to traverse than the multiple steps we used to have and the seats all around the site are used by everyone!”

What to expect at The Roman Baths

The Roman Baths in the city of Bath is an incredible link to Britain’s Roman past and a must for all those interested in this fascinating part of our history. The entire city of Bath is, in fact, a World Heritage Site, founded by the Romans as a thermal spa. As such, it’s a fantastic destination to visit on a short break and the Roman Baths attraction itself is a true highlight. With museums, exhibitions, themed experiences, and the joy of seeing the incredible ancient architecture, the fame of the Roman Baths is well warranted.

Claire, from the family travel blog Tin Box Traveller, loves the Roman Baths and has spoken to us about what she and her family enjoyed most: “The Roman Baths are a not only a beautiful place to visit, they are incredibly educational. The exhibitions around what are the best-preserved Roman baths in Northern Europe do a brilliant job of explaining who built them, how they were used and why they fell out of favour. There are loads of artefacts, interactive exhibits and amazing facts. The audio guides are excellent for visitors of all ages. For every piece of audio intended for grown-up ears, there’s another that has been recorded with children in mind. Ancient characters tell them about the spring, the temple and the Baths.

“My top tip for families visiting The Roman Baths is to go during the school holidays when there are extra activities laid on for children. Actors bring the place to life for young visitors and there are Roman games to play. Also, buy your tickets online to avoid queuing – the Baths are always busy!”

Tower of London, London

Tower Of London

Accessibility at the Tower of London

  • Guide dogs welcome
  • Wheelchairs available free of charge
  • Virtual tours
  • Lift in the White Tower to basement
  • Ramps in the New Armouries café and near the Raven shop
  • Some difficult stairs and passageways with limited wheelchair access

Full information here.

What to expect at the Tower of London

With an epic history that dates back to William the Conqueror in 1066, the Tower of London is a true British icon. Visitors from across the globe flock to see this fascinating castle fortress. Kasia, from the cultural travel blog Kasia Writes, has visited the tower herself and described what stood out for her:

“The Tower of London has been an integral part of England’s history for almost 1,000 years. It was the setting for many key historical events in European history. The Tower is also a well-preserved 11th-century fortification and a great example of Norman architecture. It has been a fortress, a prison, military barracks and the royal mint. Many important and infamous prisoners, including three English queens, lost their lives and heads here.

“All these elements make this a must-see UK World Heritage Site, especially those interested in history. I would recommend spending a few hours here and taking advantage of the free guided tours by the Yeoman Wardens, also known as the Beefeaters.”

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Stonehenge

Accessibility at Stonehenge

  • The main areas are wheelchair accessible
  • Accessible toilets
  • Guide dogs allowed
  • Wheelchairs can be borrowed
  • Disabled parking available
  • Free carer tickets available

Full information here. Stonehenge was also ranked as the most accessible top attraction in the UK.

What to expect at Stonehenge

Believed to have been constructed between 2,400 and 2,200 BC, Stonehenge is one of the world’s most famous historic sites. Instantly recognisable, this mysterious location has fascinated the public across the centuries. Located in Wiltshire, the meaning behind the megalithic stone structures is still being explored but their importance to the UK’s prehistoric past cannot be underestimated. The visitor centre, Neolithic houses, and café further add to the experience.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace

Accessibility at Blenheim Palace

  • Scooters available to hire for the gardens
  • Own scooters allowed inside
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Guide dogs welcome
  • Carers for blue badge holders admitted free of charge
  • Some park walks cover uneven terrain

Full information here.

What to expect at Blenheim Palace

The historic Blenheim Palace is a magnificent location, being the former residence of the aristocracy, constructed back in the early 1700s. Surrounded by a majestic park that was created by the famous landscaper ‘Capability’ Brown, the palace itself is a stunning example of Romantic architecture, replete with statues, fountains, and regal staterooms. The priceless collection of portraits, tapestries, and furniture is worth the price of admission alone, and the Churchill Exhibition (the palace being the place of Winston Churchill’s birth) is the icing on the cake.

Visiting the UK’s World Heritage Sites

The above are just some of the incredible UNESCO sites available in the UK and will provide a great starting point for those who want to enjoy a cultural day trip or two. For the full list of World Heritage Sites, you can visit the UNESCO website, helping you to plan many historic days out in the future.

For more guides, advice, and tips, make sure to take a look at our news page.

Share
Request free info pack.

Looking for a lift solution for your home or business?

Request your free information pack.