Cornwall Couldn’t Be Better For A Wheelchair Friendly Staycation

Yasemen Kaner-White and her mother, Frances, take a break

When seeking a wheelchair accessible staycation to give mum a holiday, Cornwall kept cropping up in my searches, and I’m glad it did. Seven hours driving from Windsor, with traffic hold-ups on the way (it would have been quicker to get a flight abroad), yet it was still all worth it!

We stopped for lunch at Lewinnick Lodge, a clifftop restaurant in Newquay. Having parked in the disabled bay close to the main entrance, we went up the paved path (the rest is gravelled) straight through accommodating wide double-doors. There’s a lovely disabled loo just inside and as we entered, we found enviable Atlantic ocean views, framed by floor to ceiling windows, encircling the restaurant. Pretty much every seat has ocean views, mum found the seats comfortable and was grateful for the wide gaps between tables making manoeuvring to the loo in her wheelchair seamless. As good as the rugged coastal views was the incredible food. I went for the indulgent belly pork, fondant potato, apple puree and cabbage, whilst mum opted for the sultry steak, cooked to perfection by all accounts, with sweet potato chips, blue cheese sauce and a meaty portobello mushroom. No room for a pud but the Cornish roasted coffee and soothing sea views ended lunch well.

If we’d arrived, as planned, after four hours, we were going to hire a sand chair so mum could tramp up and down Newquay’s famous Fistral beach. No doubt we will another day but it’s good to know that the accessible chairs can be booked in advance, are free of charge and have large inflatable wheels enabling them to roll over sand and pebbles with ease for a smooth and safe ride. We checked into The Headland, a magnificent grand hotel overlooking Fistral Beach. The brainchild of architect Silvanus Travail who designed the imposing Victorian masterpiece to rival the South Coast resorts, and he succeeded. First opened in 1900, sadly after the war it fell into disrepair but was rescued by the current owners in 1979, who have lovingly restored it with modern touches and of course with accessibility in mind. It was a nice touch that the hotel called in advance to check the room would have everything needed to accommodate mum’s wheelchair and any other wants and needs, making a good impression before arrival.

The hotel staff were so welcoming, George, the affable GM, greeted us at the door, whilst our bags were taken to our rooms. Although the lift was out of order momentarily, a member of staff helped me wheel mum into the staff lift and showed us to our rooms, they couldn’t have been more kind and helpful. Mum stayed in room 205, one of the ‘best family suites’, boasting a fabulous four poster bed, lounge with a large comfortable sofa, mod-con TV, a welcomed pouffe for her feet, dressing table with a gilded mirror and best of all French doors leading to her private balcony, with views making her feel at one with the sea – simply stunning. Whilst a luxurious room, we certainly felt at home sitting on the sofa, munching on complimentary Cornish Fairing biscuits and fruit platter, breathing in the crisp sea air.

Dinner was as expected, professionally, yet warmly served, and executed exceptionally, we both opted for the dover sole meuniere, which were caught locally that morning and carved at the table. After a sound night sleep, I met mum outside her room and took her in the spacious lift a stone’s throw from her room to the breakfast room where we were treated to yet more sea views and a breakfast buffet, with room enough to wheel mum around for her to choose, whilst not getting in the way. We didn’t make it to the renowned Aqua Club or spa, which the hotel is known for and accommodates wheelchair bound customers, but it’s on our bucket list for next time, instead we headed for the Eden Project, 40 minutes away.

Blue badge at the ready we parked in the disabled bay, mum had her wheelchair with her but you can hire one at the venue too. Wanting to explore all Eden had to offer, we pre-booked their all-terrain tramper mobility scooter and upon arrival a staff member gave mum a quick tutorial on it and kept her wheelchair in safe keeping. If you haven’t been to Eden, go, is my advice. It was utter joy, for mum and I to be able to go side by side through the iconic huge covered biomes, one the rainforest where you feel the humidity and hear the sounds of a genuine rainforest from the waterfalls to the birds wandering around our feet, not to mention seeing the indigenous flora and fauna and the other the sensational Mediterranean biome. To walk among starfruit, lychee, cashew and guava trees to name a few, in Cornwall, with information boards enhancing the experience with nuggets to takeaway, was fabulous. The only place mum wasn’t able to access was a short treetop canopy walkway. Leaving the extensive, exciting Eden, both inside and outdoor gardens available to her to explore with ease. After a good few hours taking it all in, we rounded off our trip with some tasty fish and chips from Rick Stein’s Fistral Beach restaurant, then recounted our trip fondly during the drive home.


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Yasemen Kaner-White

Food & travel journalist, lemon expert and eternally curious

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