We thought we would put together some suggestions of places to visit in the New Forest for you to explore prior to your visit and how we got on when we last visited them. We will be checking out to see what they offer for the accessible visitor and will be commenting on that and hopefully showing some images from out visits, this is our new page on our web site and we will hop it will grow into a valuable resource. Photos from our visitors will be shown on our facebook - https://www.facebook.com/OurBenchSelfCatering - we would love you to follow us.
None of the attractions and locations mentioned on this page, have paid us to share their details - but if we have visited recently and shared some photos then they may have sent us complimentary tickets, to enable us to ensure that the details are correct, our last visit will be dated in the text below.
Avon Country Park and Moors Valley Country Park and Forest are places where you can use a tramper to explore further as part of the South West Countryside Mobility scheme. Temporary membership starts at just £2.50 and at Moors Valley the Tramper is free to use, with two available you could explore with a friend. More details on the scheme here: http://www.countrysidemobility.org - thank you to Marion for sending us the photos of her at Moors Valley.
Head over to Barton on Sea (pop BH25 7DZ) into your Sat Nav, this will take you to the Beachcomber Cafe on Marine Drive East- a lovely place for coffee or lunch on the cliff top after your walk, (you need to pop inside to order but if you catch the staff's attention, if your on your own and need help, as a family run independent cafe they happy to help and offer table service).
Along Marine Drive East you will find several carparks, so it is easy to park up, if you walk along the cliff top, you can often enjoy watching the paragliders catching the coastal air. Near to the Cafe is a sloped tarmac path which takes you down the cliff to a lovely gravel path in front of a few beach huts, with views across to the Isle of Wight, here you can watch the waves, enjoy the odd pocket of sand, and get up close to the beautiful Thrifts or Sea Pinks that grow on the side of the cliffs in Spring and Summer.
Pedall runs inclusive cycling sessions for people who need support so that they can enjoy cycling in the New Forest National Park. They have a variety of specialist cycles with different seating positions, extra wheels and harness to provide support and stability which you can use, you just have to check their web site and book yourself into a cycle session with is led by qualified staff and volunteers to give you the chance to enjoy the traffic-free off-road cycle. Events run several times a month - details on their web site - or our facebook page.
Furzey Gardens is a delightful garden in the village of Minstead in the New Forest, with a variety of gravel paths and wooden walkways you can explore the gardens and discover the fairy houses hidden away in the trees. There is a lovely tea room too and on a nice day it is a delight to sit on the patio area and enjoy the view. Furzey gardens is run as a social enterprise which provides training and work experience for people with learning disabilities.
Testwood Lakes is on the outskirts of the New Forest, this hidden wildlife reserve is a delight to explore, and bird watchers paradise - the bird hide is fully accessible, there is a wood walkway to the historic round house and lots of signposted level walks to explore around the lakes. You will need to take your Radar key with you to access some of the gates with the reserve, and they have an all terrain wheelchair on site at the visitors centre which you are welcome to borrow for a small donation - advance booking is recommended. More details cab be found here: Testwood Lakes - Hampshire Wildlife Trust
Blashford Lakes is a nature reserve that is free to visit and is open daily from 9am-4.30pm. It is not the easiest place to find but directions can be found here. but the Education Centre offers a trail guide and toilets for visitors. There of about 8km of rolled gravel paths give access around the site suitable for all season use by mobility scooters, and more robust wheelchairs. They even have two “Tramper” mobility scooters are also available to borrow by prior arrangement, contact them direct for details.
Useful links: Blashford Lakes
At Lepe that have a Landeez All Terrain wheelchair that is free to borrow and allows easier access across uneven ground including the pebble beach, pebble tracks, grassy areas and sand. Our beach car park also has ramps at both ends to enable people to get down on to the beach. If anybody would like to use the wheelchair we ask that they contact the Park Office on 02380 899108 before hand and we can make sure that it is reserved for their visit, (open 9am-4pm daily).
For bird watchers, the bird hide is located in our conservation area at Lepe point and is fully accessible. It’s accessed along an all access path and actually takes you past our pond, which in the summer I really recommend visiting as it attracts quite a few dragon and damselflies and is generally quite a peaceful spot!
Useful Links: Lepe Country Park
The New Forest Wildlife Park offers the opportunity for you to get close up to a variety of woodland animals from a variety of woodland trails - owls, otters, deer, foxes, wood mice to wild boar are all waiting to be discovered.
The New Forest Wildlife Park welcome wheelchair and mobility scooter users and visitors with limited mobility, but they do highlight that the woodland trails and natural forest environment may pose difficulties for some visitors. you are welcome to phone before hand to discuss your personal requirements. Disabled visitors are admitted at a discounted price and have a free carer ticket available to help them round.
Useful links: New Forest Wildllife Park
Shop mobility is based underneath the main West Quay shopping centre - you can hire a scooter or electric chair from just £5.50 a day (January 2017) and this includes free parking. You then take the lift and you are inside the main shopping centre in Southampton - from there you can explore numerous shops, plenty of coffee shops and restaurants, there is bowling, a cinema complex, historic architecture, the Titanic Museum, Southampton Art Galleries and more - all within easy reach... lots of user friendly signage to help you get around and accessible on all levels. You can explore numerous shops and head across to Ikea without going outside, and there is a handy app you can download to help find your way around.- A great place to explore on wet New Forest Days.
more details contact: