Good old Sussex by the sea is the ideal spot for a holiday and here is my guide of what do to and see while you’re here!
If you have not visited Brighton before, it may be helpful to know that the city is situated on a hill that runs from north to south, and from west to east across the city centre.
This means that some of the routes within the city centre are quite steep, so with that in mind if you are a wheelchair user arriving by train it would be advisable to use Queens Road as the main road to the city centre, and then either Western Road to the main shops, West Street to the sea, or North Street to the shopping areas of the North Laine and the Lanes, and the Royal Pavilion.
If you are arriving by car there are numerous car parks, most of which will accommodate a wheelchair accessible van, although they do not offer free parking for blue badge holders.
You can also park in voucher parking and pay and display spaces for unlimited times in brighton, or on yellow lines for up to 3 hours.
All Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company buses are wheelchair accessible and have the facility to lower the step for easy access.
They are also all 'Talking Buses' and have screens advising of next stop information.
Brighton Pier: head to the pier to find a range of rides and attractions for all ages. At present there are no stay-in-wheelchair rides available. The pier can get very busy on weekends and sunny days. It is free to enter the pier but you will need to purchase a wristband for the rides and attractions – buy online the day before and you will usually save 25% https://brightonpier.merlintickets.co.uk/
The pier is also home to a wide variety of foods including fish and chips and freshly made donuts!
Sealife centre: Based opposite the pier, this is the oldest aquarium in the UK and is home to 3,500 creatures including inquisitive sea turtles and magnificent sharks.
There is a disabled access entrance located through an underpass from the beach that can be accessed via the ramp down to the beach. The underpass leads out into the entrance and therefore avoiding the steps down to the entrance. There is a standard disabled toilet available inside and you will find a Changing Places facility within 15 minutes walk on Madeira drive.
There is only one area of SEA LIFE Brighton which does not have full access and this is the Ocean Display in the auditorium, however this display can also be seen from the Ocean Tunnel which is accessible.
Children under 3 go free and disabled guests are entitled to one free carer space. You may be required to show proof of disability, eg DLA letter or blue badge.
Brighton beach has 2 All-terrain beach wheelchairs which can be hired from the seafront office.
Bookings can be made up to one week in advance, or you can request a chair on the day of your visit.
You can book for a maximum of two hours, so that everyone can use them.
You will need proof of ID when collecting the wheelchair, and a £25 refundable deposit is required.
Your wheelchair can be stored safely while you use the all-terrain chair
Find these at 141 King's Road Arches,Lower Esplanade, Brighton BN1 2FN. Tel: 01273 292716
i360 – Brighton’s newest attraction is the British Airways i360 which is the world’s first vertical cable car, designed by the London Eye architects.
You’ll go up slowly to 450 feet in a futuristic glass viewing pod to enjoy breathtaking 360 degree views.
This attraction is completely wheelchair accessible and you do not have to pre-book but there is a safety limit on the number of wheelchairs permitted on the Glass Viewing Pod on any one flight so we would recommend that you book your flight as early as possible if you want to guarantee a space.
Bookings for visitors with disabilities can be made in person at the Ticket Office at British Airways i360 or by phoning 0333 772 0360.
There is an accessible toilet on both the upper and lower level.
People with a disability are entitled to free entry for their companion or carer on British Airways i360 Flights.
A companion may be a family member, friend or registered carer.
A lift (suitable for use by wheelchair users) connects the upper level and the lower level.
The Brighton Centre is the main concert venue in the city and was recently granted a Gold Award by Attitude is Everything partly due to their work with Gig Buddies and the installation of a Changing Places toilet.
If you like shopping, you’ll love Brighton! Head to Churchill Square where you will find the undercover shopping mall which houses brands such as River Island, Next and Debenhams.
Walk down Western Road where you’ll Primark, Marks & Spencers and a range of cafes and fast food outlets.
Visit the lanes for your designer stores and small boutiques and jewellery shops, you’ll also find a wide range of cafes and restaurants here.
The lanes are also home to the infamous Choccywoccydoodah unfortunately as the store is in a listed building wheelchair users cannot visit their first floor café as they don’t have a lift.
But you can certainly get some choccy to take out!
The lanes can get very busy and congested which can sometimes be difficult when trying to manoeuvre a wheelchair.
If Brighton is too busy for you then head to Worthing! About 40 mins by car or easily accessible via the 700 bus or train.
The seafront has a wheelchair accessible path from Shoreham to West Worthing and is a lovely walk in the summer.
On route stop off at Brooklands park where you will find a fully inclusive playground, We Play Too which has wheelchair accessible swings and roundabouts and even a wheelchair accessible fun train which goes around the lake.
We Cycle Too is also located here. This is a purpose-built cycle track with 2 routes. You can hire special needs bikes here to use on the track.
It is best to call in advance to ensure you can book your required bike 01903 765716.
In winter months, a trip to an ice rink is a must and whilst Brighton does have its own, it is not wheelchair friendly.
Luckily several pop-up ice rinks arrive across West Sussex in the winter, including one in Worthing at Steine Gardens.
This one is an undercover ice rink in which is completely wheelchair accessible.
Wheelchairs are allowed on the ice and there is no requirement to pre-book but if you are visiting on a weekend close to Christmas it would be advisable to do so.
Worthing Pier is far more laid back than Brighton’s busy pier but it is lovely for a walk in the sunshine and at the end of the pier you’ll find a café/restaurant.
One in the town centre, opposite the Dome – this one is accessed via an intercom system. The other is in Splash Point leisure centre.
Splashpoint Leisure Centre’s award-winning pool complex includes a six lane, 25 metre pool; a combined learner/diving pool; indoor fun pools, flumes and outdoor waters; a health and fitness centre; café and flexible space for other activities.
You’ll also find a changing places facility here which is open to customers and the general public.
On the seafront behind splash point leisure centre you will find the splash pad, A really fun wet-play facility right on the beach.
It is completely free of charge and the kids love it.
Open 10am-1.30pm & 2.30pm-6pm throughout the summer (NB. The water tanks require refilling between 1.30 and 2.30pm)
Next to the splash pads is a play area called Gull Island, which is aimed mainly at children eight and under, there are no wheelchair accessible swings etc at this park sadly.
Other activities and places to visit in West Sussex:
Lodge Hill is an outdoor activity centre, nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park, for schools, youth groups & adults, with overnight accommodation, campsite, outdoor activities,
They have 2 lodges for families which are fully wheelchair accessible.
Their range of over 30 exciting outdoor activities include a climbing tower, archery, mountain biking, rifle shooting, karting, tunneling, an adventure trail, enchanted garden, high zip line, orienteering, abseiling and team building.
William is a full time wheelchair user with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, he enjoyed the zip wire on his last visit to Lodge Hill!
Tilgate Park, Crawley
Tilgate Park has a lot to offer from stunning lakes, lawns and gardens to miles of woodland and bridleways for long leisurely walks.
Tilgate Nature Centre which houses a huge variety of animals from endangered species to farmyard favourites.
Entry costs £2.50 for 17 and over, £1.50 for 2-16 year olds, Free for Under 2s
Go Ape is the UK’s number one forest adventure and is also located in Tillgate park. Take part in a Tree Top Adventure - flying down zip-wires, leaping off tarzan swings and tackling crossings whilst enjoying some of Britain’s most breathtaking scenery.
Although this is probably not suitable for wheelchair users, they do offer support for vistors with a wide range of disabilities.
Tillgate Park does not currently have a changing places facility but it will soon be home to a one!
There is a lot more to see and do in Sussex, watch this space for the next chapter to this blog!
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