Accessible Bude

Winner of a gold award for Best UK Coastal Resort at the 2015 British Travel Awards, there is absolutely no doubt that Bude captivates new generations of visitors year upon year. Located in North Cornwall to the backdrop of spectacular coastal scenery, beautiful beaches and an exciting range of possible activities for all the family, Bude is a historic and welcoming town that creates lasting memories for its visitors.

Bude doesn’t discriminate, it captivates everyone, often leaving visitors with a pang of envy that a community gets to enjoy such tranquillity the whole year through. However, this blog wishes to answer the following three questions about our beautiful town:

  • Can Bude really be enjoyed by everyone?
  • Just how accessible is Bude?
  • Where should those managing with disabilities or prams visit to ensure they have the best possible stay?
  • Which accommodation is wheelchair accessible (click here for listings)

There are a smorgasbord of different activities, eateries and bars to visit in Bude, each with their own unique atmosphere and selling points, making each truly well worth a look. It would be remiss to blankly exclude venues and sections of the town which are not mentioned in this blog. There are far more accessible venues and activities available than even I realised in addition to a willing community of business owners who would be happy to help in any way they can. The venues mentioned in this report however, represent the most accessible in the town, a town which you shouldn’t be afraid to explore, a town which creates memories.

As a wheelchair user who lives in Bude and self-propels everywhere, the following are recommendations based on my experiences within the town. Every disability and indeed individual is different however and the most wonderful thing about Bude as a community is that people will help you in any way they can, to partake in whichever activities you choose. Having spoken to surf schools, the town’s activity centre (Adventure International) and restaurant staff, all of whom said that they would do everything possible to ensure that everyone can enjoy their venue and activities. What follows however, is a guide aimed at making your stay in Bude as enjoyable and independent as possible.

The town is attracting more and more disabled visitors year on year which is wonderful but if you have any sort of physical impairment at all it would certainly be worth bringing a wheelchair. The hills are steep but manageable. If you’re in a self-propelling wheelchair or pushing a pram then the left hand side of the pavement from the bottom of the main street (Belle Vue) is far more even. On either side of Belle Vue there are only actually a couple of shops that are inaccessible without assistance, these shops have single step access. A number of shops on the left hand side of the road have steep slopes, defined by the incline of the hill. In addition shops in Bude are often narrow which can make manoeuvrability difficult. However, shop owners are always on hand to assist. The two other streets in the town are Queen Street and Lansdown Road. Queen Street has rather more shops with single steps or steep slopes and Lansdown Road is the steepest incline in the town – one which I really struggle with and one which is definitely best handled with assistance.

Sand generally doesn’t mix with wheelchairs but the beaches in Bude are actually very accessible. You can borrow beach wheelchairs on a first come first served basis from the Summerleaze Beach Office during school summer holidays. The chairs have specialist wheels designed for sand allowing you experience the beach from the beach. Both beaches have radar accessible disabled toilets within a manageable distance. Summerleaze’s Disabled WC also has an electronic hoist to assist with transferring. Both beaches are adjacent to Cornwall Council managed car parks. If you have a blue badge and your vehicle is registered for the disabled you can apply for free parking in these and other council managed car parks. You must attach a (V5C) form (evidence of the cars registration) to your application. If you are not in possession of the form, you can contact the mobility scheme who will be happy to help. Find out more here.

Both main beaches also have fantastically accessible vantage points. You can stroll along the canal until you reach the end of the lock gates (harbour) and become spellbound by views of Summerleaze, the breakwater, intelligence satellites and of course the town itself. The only part of this route which offers difficulty is along the canal front, where the walkway has been finished with a cobble brick which is rather uncomfortable to travel across in any type of wheelchair.

Summerleaze beach has a seafront which overlooks some spectacular views, with accessible cafés in close residence. There is also a coastal route which runs between the two beaches, the initial part of this route from Crooklets, is hard work, with a steep and angled incline. If you can negotiate this however, then the rest of the route is both manageable and rewarding taking in views of the beaches and Bude’s famous Seapool.

If you would like to take a more relaxed approach to appreciating Bude’s spectacular views then you can hire a disability accessible beach hut. The huts, situated on the sea front at Summerleaze, have ramp access and double width doors. If you are in receipt of PIP payments, you can call 01288 354240 to receive a significant discount on the advertised rate. Click here for more information & available dates.

When I was asked to write this blog, I wanted to inform readers about as many accessible activities as possible, to encourage readers to look beyond Bude’s beautiful scenery and perhaps seek adventure. The town’s views are spectacular but Bude really does have so much more to offer.

I spoke to Matt from the Big Blue Surf School and Scott from Bude Surfing experience who said there was an accessible surf board (a larger board with grab handles), perfect for instructor led tandem surfing available. In Matt’s words, “It’s all achievable; it just takes a little planning.”

I also spoke to Adventure International who regularly cater for groups of disabled school children and they confidently said that all of their activities are adaptable. From Canoeing to Abseiling, Adventure International’s experienced team of instructors endeavour to make all activities inclusive. From the 25th July – 19th August you can book activities in 2.5hr sessions.

Bude has a fantastic variety of places to eat, with a range of cuisine styles available for your delectation. To finish this blog I have written a list of venues which I can confidently say, are independently accessible.

The Brendon Arms
The Brendon has both accessible entry and a large disabled WC with grab rails and lowered wash basin. Views of the canal from the beer garden are also pleasant.

Rosie’s Kitchen & Starboard
Rosie’s has accessible entry to both elements of its restaurant and a Disabled WC. Rosie’s can get incredibly busy making maneuvering to and from facilities difficult. Rosie’s also has an outside children’s play area with outside seating overlooking Crooklets beach.

Life’s a Beach
Located atop of Summerleaze beach a ramp has been added to this venue with widened doors and a disabled WC and baby changing facilities. They also have outside seating with spectacular views of the sea.

Wroes Café
Part of Bude’s largest retail store this lift accessible café offers wonderful views of Summerleaze Beach.

The Olive Tree
This bistro is spacious inside making maneuvering easy. There is also outside seating overlooking the canal and although there is no specific disabled WC, there are public toilets in close proximity.

The Shack
Situated at the entrance to Bude, The Shack has a manageable ramp for access and accessible WC facilities.

BED Nightclub
Bude’s resident night club has disabled access and spacious WC facilities. Recently renovated, the club also has a wider dance floor and accessible bar area.

Thank you for reading
Written By Matthew Emo

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