This isn’t the right thing to say but I dread taking my daughters wheelchair anywhere new. Most places are great but I can’t escape the feeling of dread because it only takes one poor experience to put you off completely – thankfully London was pretty great.
Train To London
After having an awful time when traveling to Nottingham with a mobility scooter I wasn’t holding up much hope. However from arriving on the platform to getting off the other end the experience was great. We were apparently supposed to book disabled access, however this isn’t very prominent when booking tickets – because there wasn’t any space we managed to get a free upgrade to first class. Obviously this wont happen to everyone, but the staff we spoke to seemed to genuinely care about getting us the best service possible.
Let it never be said that the underground doesn’t have good disabled access, because all things considered it does. Some stations are easier than others (we tested quite a few considering the circle line was shut) but look out for the blue disabled badges as they are strep free to street level. Also be prepared to take multiple lifts, and have to hunt around for them. We used a grand total of 21 lefts during our day in London, some better signed than others and we did plenty of pushing in between.
It was from here onwards we really started to see the people that really cared about our experience. There is a stark difference between those that put in accessibility equipment for regulation and those that really care about allowing access for everyone. Staff at the London Eye went out of their way to get us through as easy as possible, they stop the wheel for everyone with issues getting on, and will place and ramp for those in a chair.
That’s not to say the experience went without a hiccup, getting into the cordoned off line was a nightmare, with people punching in from all angles and people clearly didn’t care about the wheelchair. This wasn’t the staffs fault, but be prepared to be a little assertive and you’ll get on great.
The staff and facility here is another shining example of really caring about access to all mobility issues. There are numerous lifts to navigate the floors of the aquarium, and plentiful disabled toilets throughout the journey. There are some sticky places, particularly the ‘Amazon’ section, where the floor is made to look as if walking in the rainforest, this is a harder to push through but not impossible.
All of the tanks are easy to see when you’re down a little lower, but be prepared to wait at the larger tanks to get towards then front. If possible I would allow extra time and aim for quieter times in order to see everything. At hands on areas, staff were set up to transfer a star fish into a container so Lucie could have a feel sat in her chair.
Only once were the words “never again” muttered, when trying to work our way though the maze of lifts in Kings Cross. However all said everywhere provided great access and we had a great experience. Disabled access is experiencing a sea change at the minute and I am excited to see everywhere become easy to access for us.