Hello, everyone, and once again, happy holidays from the Disabled Travelers blog! Today I’ll be continuing on with my access guide for the United Kingdom by discussing disabled travel resources in Scotland. This is a great destination that no tour through the UK should be without. So without further ado, here we go …
The single biggest event in Scotland is the annual Military Tattoo, an awesome parade with bands, performers, and more in the shadow of famous Edinburgh Castle. The Tattoo’s organizers offer special wheelchair seating and vehicle permits, as well as a personal PA system and audio description of the event for those with hearing and visual difficulties, respectively. The Tattoo is a very popular event, typically attracting over 200,000 spectators a year, and it’s pretty rare to see something like this with such extensive accessibility and disabled travel features, so check it out! The Tattoo will take place this year in the month of August.
Throughout Scotland and Wales, the disabled person’s railcard is just as good as it is in England, so take advantage of the discounted fares. ScotRail is the railway service in Scotland, and offers assistance at rail stations and alternate transport for unstaffed rail stations, as well as other accommodations. All ScotRail trains have wheelchair accessibility ramps and most have designated areas for handicapped travelers in wheelchairs. ScotRail and other public services in Scotland are particularly proactive about assisting hard-of-hearing and deaf disabled travelers, as this recent news article from Wellsphere’s Hearing Loss and Deafness Community demonstrates.
In the past, Scotland’s rugged, rural landscape has proven difficult for some disability travel purposes. In recent years, though, a few new initiatives and a new awareness among local hoteliers has definitely changed things for the better. Disabled people are now entitled to free bus travel throughout Scotland. Unfortunately, the current entitlement is only for residents, but wheelchair accessible hotels are definitely multiplying across Scotland’s beautiful countryside. Here’s one selection of holiday cottages with wheelchair access, and a few more hotels and B&Bs, including one right on the picturesque shores of Loch Ness – where you just might spot the famous sea monster.
Accessible Scotland is part of the country’s official tourism board and offers verified accommodations and activities in a variety of locations. Disability Help Scotland is a nonprofit organization and information clearinghouse for news and information that affects handicapped people (and naturally, handicapped travelers) through the nation. Naturally, if you’re journeying through Scotland you might be interested in playing the ancestral sport: golf. If so, I have good news for you: disabled people have their own golf course in Scotland. This course is in Edinburgh, the heart and capital of the nation. While Edinburgh itself has no access guide I could find, you might benefit from the disabled passenger resources from Edinburgh Airport.
If you want a tour operator to help you in your rambling around Edinburgh, and even some other major cities in the UK, try Can Be Done, which operates wheelchair accessible and disability friendly tours in Edinburgh, London, Dublin, Paris, Tenerife, and many more places in the UK, continental Europe, and the Mediterranean.
In my next installment, I’ll be wrapping up our whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom by uncovering the best disabled travel resources in that unique and picturesque land, Wales. Until then, keep adventuring, and we’ll see you soon …