Beaches are beautiful examples of the grandeur of the natural world and are spaces that everyone should be able to enjoy. As an accessible outdoor adventure centre in Devon, we are committed to ensuring everyone can experience the joys of the countryside, especially the stunning beaches dotted around the North Devon coastline.
When you visit us at Calvert Trust Exmoor, you’re never too far from numerous picturesque seaside locations, many of which offer accessible facilities, including the ability to hire beach wheelchairs or carriages.
We cover everything you need to know about renting a beach wheelchair to ensure your next coastal adventure is the best it can be.
How Accessible is the North Devon Coastline?
In recent years, our glorious county has been a part of some great projects designed to make rural areas more accessible and inclusive spaces.
The Countryside Mobility Scheme is a non-profit organisation that aims to ensure the South West countryside is made accessible for all visitors.
With their influence and the impact of other dedicated companies, many areas now have on-site beach wheelchairs and carriages, with both manual and electrical options available to hire.
Schemes like this not only cater to beach locations but also aim to make woodland spaces and National Trust properties wheelchair accessible.
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair
Whenever you’re on holiday and want to find out more about the local facilities, your first port of call should be the relevant tourist information centre. Here, you will be able to find out about the accessible opportunities in the area as well as how to hire any available equipment.
From there, hiring your beach wheelchair is a relatively simple process; you’ll just have to get in touch with the local beach shop or information centre, who will be able to give you more information about availability and any hiring prices.
The Best Accessible Beaches in North Devon
The list of beautiful local beaches is a long one, with plenty of locations offering access to all-terrain wheelchairs and trampers. Here are some of our favourite accessible beaches that make must-visit spots!
To find out more about these stunning destinations and more, read our blog below.
Is Croyde Bay Accessible?
Croyde Bay is a surfers paradise with various schools offering surfing lessons to anyone willing to have a go!
Calvert Trust Exmoor are currently partnered with the Wave Project and Surf South West to provide surf lessons to our guests in Croyde, with surfing as our only off-site activity.
If surfing isn’t your thing, and you’re just after a meander along the sands, there’s plenty of opportunity for that too. Croyde Bay is recognised as having disability access with short slopes down to the beach. It should be noted that the sand at the entrance is soft, which can make it more challenging to manoeuvre around for users of mobility aids.
A big bonus for Croyde Bay is the Changing Places toilet, thanks to a local Access For All community group.
We have provided two of our own beach wheelchairs for the Wave Project and Surf Southwest, which contribute to the accessibility of guests and students learning to surf at Croyde beach.
Is Saunton Sands Beach Accessible?
Saunton Sands is made up of three and a half miles of warm, golden sands, backed by the rolling dunes known as the Braunton Burrows.
The beach features numerous amenities, including two accessible toilets and accessible parking spaces.
The entrance to the beach consists of very soft sand and a steep slope, which can prove to be challenging for wheelchairs. However, the Saunton Sands Beach Shop holds five wheelchairs suitable for both adults and children, including:
- Three Landeez beach wheelchairs
- Two NOMAD all-terrain carriages
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair at Saunton Sands
Advanced booking is recommended, especially during the summer months. You can call 01271 890771 to rent a chair for:
- Half a day
- A full day
- Or on a weekly basis
Two of the wheelchairs at Saunton Sands have been provided by the Calvert Trust Exmoor site.
Is Woolacombe Bay Accessible?
Woolacombe Bay is another dreamy coastal location and home to a glorious landscape of golden sands.
Accessible toilets are available in the village, and the beach is recognised as having easy access, with a ramp that leads to the beach. Again, sands can be soft and more difficult to navigate.
An electric beach wheelchair is available to hire from the Woolacombe Tourist Information Centre.
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair at Woolacombe Bay
Due to the popularity of Woolacombe, booking ahead of time is thoroughly recommended. You can either call 01271 870553 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To hire the beach wheelchair, you automatically become a member of the Countryside Mobility, which has an annual fee of £10.00. Alternatively, you can try a £2.50 two week ‘Taster Membership’.
Once a member of Countryside Mobility, you are allowed to use the available trampers at any of the 36 sites in the South West.
A donation of £5 per session is also encouraged.
Is Lundy Island Accessible?
Situated just 12 miles off the North Devon coast, Lundy Island is a brilliant day out for anyone visiting the area. The raw and natural landscape of the island is immense, and the wildlife is spectacular. Though rare to see, both deer and puffin inhabit the island.
On the island, there are two electric wheelchairs available for hire. Because of its more remote location, travelling to and staying on Lundy can prove tricky for some, so make sure to consider these elements too.
How to Hire a Beach Wheelchair on Lundy Island
Booking in advance is essential to ensure someone is available to assist once the boat has docked on the island.
The electric wheelchairs are available for day hire. However, you will already need to be a Countryside Mobility member due to the reduced staffing on the island and the requirement of tramper induction for new members.
Hire will cost £20 for a full day and £50 for a week.
Other Accessible Places to Visit in North Devon
Once you’ve had your fill of sea and sand, head to one of the county’s fantastic National Trust properties to delve into the historic homes and striking landscapes. You can find some of our top accessible National Trust sites below.
Hiring a Wheelchair at the National Trust
If you are interested in visiting a National Trust site and require wheelchair hire, we recommend getting in touch with the location in advance to check for wheelchair availability – some locations may only provide seasonal wheelchair hire.
Wheelchair hire from the National Trust is usually part of the Countryside Mobility Scheme, which means you will need to be a member.
Hopefully, you can make the most of your next North Devon beach holiday with this bit of insight! If we missed something, or you want to tell us about your experience hiring beach wheelchairs, we’d love to hear from you – leave a comment on our Facebook page to get involved.
If you or someone you know could benefit from an accessible activity break with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more about the Calvert Experience.
5 Benefits of Surfing for People with Disabilities
As an accessible activity centre in Devon, we’re always keen to shout about the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors and believe that everyone should be able to enjoy activities in the natural world.
Surfing is a highly active and exhilarating sport that engages both the mind and body – it is something that individuals of all abilities can experience and enjoy.
Not only does surfing give you an opportunity to appreciate the environment and get face-to-face with the natural world, but it’s all a brilliantly fun activity that provides an experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
Adaptive Surfing at Calvert Trust Exmoor
Surfing is our only off-site activity; if you opt for a surf-inclusive break, we’ll take the short trip to Croyde, one of the region’s most famous surfing beaches, where guests will be given engaging surf lessons taught by experienced surf instructors.
Surf Therapy for Mental and Physical Disabilities
These organisations we work with are pioneers in the area of surf therapy.
The Wave Project is part of a well-established scheme that facilitates surf therapy sessions designed to support young people with mental or physical conditions. It aims to help them build confidence, reduce anxiety and strive for that ‘I CAN do it’ attitude.
Since The Wave Project’s inception in 2010, surf therapy has become an NHS-recognised form of effective therapy, especially for young people.
Surf Therapy Research
The field still lacks an abundance of quantitative research, but the 2015 study Benefits of Surfing for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study from the University of Rhode Island remains a valuable resource and validates some of the thinking behind surf therapy.
The study touts the physical benefits of surfing for people with disabilities and also touches on the potential social and personal benefits the activity promotes.
Findings from the study concluded that the analysed surf therapy programme ‘improved numerous areas of physical fitness and is another activity that can be added to the repertoire of effective adapted aquatic exercise programs.’
Over the course of our surf sessions, we’ve seen our guests benefit from the activity in numerous ways. Below, we explore the top five benefits that accessible surfing can provide.
1. Surfing Can Improve Physical Fitness
Surfing is widely acknowledged as an intense form of exercise which involves healthy levels of aerobic activity. Surfing encourages participants to move their bodies in new ways, practising movements that are different from everyday activities.
The study mentioned above found that, overall, surfing improved the physical wellbeing of the participants.
Core body strength, aerobic capacity, increased grip strength and flexibility were all recorded as being improved after the surf programme study.
2. Surfing Cultivates an Environment of Support
Surfing can be an unforgettable experience, especially when participants are surrounded by an environment of encouragement and support.
Whether surfers are given lessons as a group or as an individual, they have the opportunity to form a trusting relationship with the instructor while also being encouraged to strive for feelings of independence and achievement.
3. Surfing Encourages Social Inclusion
Anecdotal evidence from various surf therapy studies and sessions has also highlighted the beneficial social aspects of surfing.
Even if the surf lessons are one-to-one, a network and sense of community is built up between everyone taking part. Surfing is an inclusive sport that promotes a supportive environment for participants to encourage each other and share one another’s successes.
The energetic nature of the activity allows for a great backdrop for making friends and forming connections.
4. Surfing Supports Confidence and Self Belief
Surfing may seem like a daunting activity at first, but with some guidance from a dedicated instructor and some time in the water, guests will be surprised by how quickly they take to the sport.
Taking part in surfing activities can help boost an individual’s sense of self, helping to improve confidence, self-esteem and a feeling of belonging.
These feelings are incredibly important to developing a positive personal perception. By sparking these feelings towards oneself, the desire to feel challenged is also boosted.
5. Surfing is a Fun Experience
Aside from all those other benefits, surfing is just plain fun, which many of our guests will certainly attest to!
Surfing is a unique sport that pushes individuals to learn numerous new skills, including balance and furthering water knowledge, all while being in a safe and supportive environment where individuals are primarily encouraged to be themselves and have fun.
The accessible surfing activities that we offer here at Calvert Trust Exmoor are available to both children and adults. Specialist beach equipment and adaptive surfboards are also provided to ensure everyone can take part comfortably.
Please note that surfing trips are not included in a standard break package. To find out more about our surf experiences or any of our other accessible activities and disability holidays, please get in touch.