Category Archives: Travellers’ Tales

Martyn’s Epic European Disability Road Trip Report

September 2012

For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed travel. As a child, Mum and Dad used to ensure my wheelchair could go on the plane, in the taxi and around the hotel. It wasn’t until I was 22 that I saved up, researched, planned and booked my first independent trip, to Australia! It required 2 PAs, extra care budget, hoists and major will power. Continue reading

Sailing trip

Patrick with friends and family at the Calvert Trust catamaran on Lake Windermere, April 2011:


We were staying in a Calvert Trust  accessible self catering bungalow just outside of Keswick. Sailing is one of the activities offered to visitors, we also used their beautiful swimming pool.

The day we went for a sail the weather was not too promising at the start so we all got togged up in the waterproofs provided. With a good breeze we were fairly whipping over the waves at first – very exhilerating!

The Third Leg: South Africa

View from Eastgate Backpackers JohannesburgTo visit an African country had been on the agenda from the beginning. We finally chose South Africa because of advice from people with a good knowledge of planning expeditions in Africa. Epic Enabled, a company who have experience in running safaris for wheelchair travellers is based in South Africa and it made a lot of sense to join their 8 day safari and base the trip around that. Continue reading

The First Wicked World Tour

The first tour began on June 24th 2003, rolled round the globe and ended on May 26th 2004. At least, the travelling bit happened between those dates. Before that, a lot of work had to be done to make it happen.

The original idea was simple. Raise money, buy a bus, convert it, then go round the world in it. But the timescale we were working to meant that this just wasn’t possible. Along the way, we accepted the need to compromise, adapt and scale down our expectations. Continue reading

Pach’s trip to Belfast 2010

Action Research Trip to Belfast May 2010 

Pach Knox travelled with Margaret Bremner , Andi Bremner and Sheila MacKay to Belfast in May 2010.  The aim of the trip was to explore a part of Ireland that was new to Pach and to taste beer near to where it is brewed.

Preparation:- Margaret booked the van and 4 passengers on the P& O Ferry European Highlander Departing Friday from Cairnryan to Larne and returning Sunday from Larne to Troon. Pach and his PA Derek phoned direct to Jury’s Inn in Belfast to book and check that the disabled access room had a roll in shower and that his mobile hoist would fit under the bed ie not a divan bed.

Equipment:- Molift (mobile hoist plus batteries, charger and slings), special support strap for toilet.

Ferries are more accessible than planes!  Although the journey time is longer driving is easier in many ways if you are a wheelchair user.

P&O successfully and skilfully accommodated the van and all crew members including on the car deck asked if we needed assistance and offered assistance. Although the whole ferry is not accessible there are designated wheelchair passenger spaces and crew members made sure we were fine. There was an adequate disabled access toilet on board and we were able to use the café bar and restaurant during the 2 hour crossing.

Accommodation:- Pach chose Jury’s Inn Belfast because he knew that we had found it good on previous trips to Dublin (with his brother Ali) and Cork.

We were allocated two twin rooms. The disabled accessible room was a bit small and had twin divan beds. This made it difficult to use the mobile hoist as it doesn’t fit under the bed. Getting on and off the bed was made safe by having 3 helpers who could use the sling to position Pach properly on the bed.

The following  feedback was given to the hotel: hoist and wheelchair don’t move easily on deep pile carpet; despite checking in advance the beds were divan beds and therefore caused problems for using the hoist; the toilet had no back support.

Despite all of these points all the staff were friendly and helpful. There was a free safe car parking space designated for us.

Where to go and what to do

The Crown is a famous and very central pub. It is famous for its booths (which are inaccessible for a wheelchair user) but also has standing space which is accessible. It was packed and very noisy on a Friday night – but this wasn’t surprising as the Guiness is first rate.

On the  Saturday we visited the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Ulster. The gardens had many suitable paths although the Palm House had two steps.

Patrick’s trip to Vail, February 2010

In February 2010 I travelled with Jean, Dave and Derek (succeeded by Sheila after a week) to Vail, Colorado to try their disabled skiing which I can now say is not only possible and available but great!

Vail itself was a nice place, it felt more like an Alpine village than an American tourist destination. Hardly anyone seemed to use their cars and most of the buildings were low-rise. Within the town all buses are free and disabled accessible but unfortunately there are no disabled public toilets in the centre. However, they do have accessible facilities at the foot of each of the town’s three ski lifts.

We mainly went for the skiing but unfortunately I had only one day on the slopes before contracting pneumonia, so spent the next three weeks as a guest of the Vail Valley Medical Centre!!

Thankfully, I am now almost back to what I consider normal!

Remember to check that the oxygen will be okay for you, especially if you have a disability which could affect your lungs’ function because I think Vail is up at 8,000ft and if you go skiing it can be 13,000ft.