Accessible Beaches in North Devon
North Devon has some fantastic beaches that make great must-visit spots all year round. With plenty of ice cream, a refreshing sea breeze and the sun shining down (if you’re lucky), there’s nothing quite like a relaxing meander along the Devon coastline!
Everyone, no matter their abilities, should be able to enjoy the seaside views and coastal activities that North Devon has in abundance. If you’re embarking on an accessible holiday in Devon, why not check out some of the lovely spots that we mention below?
The beach and coastal town of Westward Ho! are famed for being the only place in the UK to have an exclamation point in its name. The name comes from the book by Charles Kingsley, a popular novel from the 19th century that inspired a new wave of tourism to Bideford and the surrounding areas.
Equally as iconic as the name is the pebble ridge – the stretch of pebbles at the top of the beach that acts as a sea natural defence. This ridge makes an impressive visual spectacle but can be challenging to clamber over. For easier access down to the sandy beach below, there is a gentle slipway, giving wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility a more accessible way down.
Dogs are very welcome on the beach, but there may be some restrictions as to which areas you can take your dog during the summer months, so make sure to check the signs on arrival.
There are plenty of beachside cafes and eateries, perfect for when you need a bit of refreshment after you’ve admired the waves and sands. You will also find access to accessible toilets.
The scenery at the Saunton beaches is incredibly diverse, with vast stretches of soft sands, impressive dunes and a collection of rock pools to enjoy. The beach is popular with families, surfers and pretty much anyone who likes to spend their days making the most of the natural world around us!
There is a range of shops, food outlets and toilet facilities with accessibility before you get down to the beach via a concrete ramp. Getting from the ramp onto the beach can be more difficult as there is a small lip that leads onto very soft sand.
To make getting to the beach more accessible, the Saunton Beach shop has three Landeez beach wheelchairs and two NOMAD all-terrain wheelchair carriages available to hire on a half-day, daily or weekly basis.
Saunton is dog-friendly and only asks that you keep dogs on their lead in more heavily crowded areas like around the slipway.
The coastal town of Ilfracombe is full of unique charm, with Tunnels Beaches being one of the main attractions – aside from the 66-foot harbour-side statue of a pregnant woman designed by Damien Hurst!
Because of its stunning seas, gorgeous views and rich history, the beach here is also a popular location for weddings. It is a privately owned and maintained beach, meaning there is a small fee to enter.
Despite the dramatic views, the landscape isn’t too difficult to navigate as the tunnels after which the beach is named are either paved or concrete, and a gentle slope takes you down to the main beach.
Dogs can accompany you in the tunnels but must be kept off the beach. There are accessible toilets near the site.
Another one of North Devon’s quaint seaside towns, Woolacombe is home to three miles of glorious golden sands and lively waves. The spot that lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point is a favourite amongst families and surfers.
The beach holds many awards and is renowned for its natural beauty, cleanliness and great facilities. The beach itself is accessed by two short slopes – you can also hire an all-terrain mobility scooter or beach wheelchair from the Tourist Information Centre.
Dogs are allowed on the beach at certain times of the year and may be restricted as to where they can go. South of Mill Rock is free of restriction for your four-legged friends all year round.
Local amenities include a range of beachside cafes, pubs and shops. There are also accessible toilets available.
Just a little way off Woolacombe, you will find the scenic Croyde Bay. Set between two headlands and framed by the lush green hills of the Devon countryside, Croyde is the perfect spot to soak up spectacular views and fresh sea air.
The shore boasts fine, golden sands backed by rolling dunes. It is another popular spot for surfers and swimmers, with lots of surf schools perfect for beginners – Croyde is rated among the best surfing beaches in the world.
The easiest access to the beach can be found at the north end, where there is a short sloping path suitable for wheelchairs.
Hiring Beach Wheelchairs in North Devon
Even if there are ramps and slopes offering an easy way to get down to a beach, navigating the uneven terrain and softer sands can still present challenges if you’re using a mobility aid – this is where beach wheelchair hire comes in!
Thanks to the Countryside Mobility Scheme, many beaches and other more rural locations around North Devon are equipped to provide wheelchair hire, allowing everyone to access and admire Devon’s beautiful countryside.
To find out more about how to hire manual or electric beach wheelchairs or carriages, check out our blog below:
Many beaches will have official websites for tourists and visitors outlining their local amenities and giving more details about what to expect upon your visit. Before making your way to the beach, it can often be a good idea to get in touch with the relevant tourist information centre.
Have you been to any of these wonderful beach locations yet? Tell us about your experience on our Facebook page, or let us know if we missed your favourite spot!
5 Benefits of Introducing Bushcraft Activities to Disabled Children
Activities that allow children to connect with nature can offer an abundance of learning experiences, opening the door to new skills and ways of looking at the world.
Making these kinds of activities accessible to disabled children is at the heart of what we do at Calvert Trust Exmoor. Our range of disability adventure activities provides exciting experiences for children of all abilities, helping them discover new possibilities.
Bushcraft specifically can be incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons – we talk through some of the most significant ones.
What is Bushcraft?
Bushcraft simply refers to relevant skills and knowledge relating to the outdoors and navigating the natural world.
Our bushcraft activity sessions include things like fire lighting and cooking, campfire storytelling, woodland crafts and shelter building.
Enjoying the outdoors in a safe and supportive environment can provide brilliant opportunities for every individual.
Nature’s Beneficial Impact on Wellbeing
Just taking in the natural world and dedicating time to enjoy it can be incredibly beneficial for people of any age.
It is important to take a step back from the modern, digital world, especially for children who are still developing and changing. Nature has a soothing quality that can help boost mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Spending time in green spaces is vital for all individual’s mental health and wellbeing, so it is vital that we make this accessible to everyone!
Feeding the Spirit of Adventure
Many children with disabilities can have trouble accessing countryside spaces, but we aim to support everyone and cultivate the ‘I can do it’ spirit in all of our guests – we are always interested in showing that there should be no restrictions when it comes to enjoying and learning about nature.
Bushcraft activities help promote a sense of adventure and discovery. These feelings help children find new connections and encourage them to get excited about learning all manner of things.
Toasting marshmallows on an open fire is certainly a delicious adventure that anyone can enjoy!
Providing a New Perspective
Entering the natural world and interacting with it in different ways can be transformative.
Learning new skills in a new space can help children open up as they gain a fresh perspective on the world around them, themselves and others also taking part in the activities.
Bushcraft activities can teach children about science, safety, self-reliance and help inspire a broader understanding of their place in the natural world.
New Sensory Experiences
Doing bushcraft activities deep in nature provides an expansive sensory experience.
With the rustling wind and birds in the trees, there are countless sounds to discover, along with the exciting sights of crackling fires and creepy crawlies.
Children can also engage their senses of smell and taste with campfire snacks after crafting sessions, where they can get to grips with natural materials and the engaging textures of the forest.
Any kind of residential trip that’s full of exciting activities is bound to include a social aspect. There are lots of opportunities for children to make friends as they participate in group activities and explore together.
Working with others is a crucial life skill that can be taught through a range of bushcraft activities as children learn to collaborate and work together.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer a range of activities for both children and adults. To find out more about our accessible breaks, get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing email@example.com.
5 Facts About Exmoor
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by stretches of Exmoor’s stunning landscape. Our accessible site is set amongst beautiful rolling hills, putting you in a prime position to enjoy peaceful views spanning across moorland, water and woods.
As a local charity in Devon, we love to make the most of our surroundings – Exmoor National Park is a renowned area of natural beauty and makes an excellent location for exciting adventure breaks with lots of outdoor activities!
Here, we share some of our favourite Exmoor facts to help you get to know the place a little better.
Exmoor is Home to Unique Plants
Exmoor is teeming with flora and fauna, making it a great place to visit for those that love wildlife and celebrating the natural world. In fact, Exmoor is home to unique plants that don’t grow anywhere else.
These Exmoor-exclusive plants include various species of the whitebeam tree. The National Park is also home to a plethora of various nationally rare plants, including lichens which have only been found on one specific Exmoor tree!
There are Herds of Roaming Ponies
When visiting Exmoor, you’ll see many awe-inspiring sights – if you’re lucky, one of these sights will be a herd of roaming Exmoor ponies!
These native ponies are free to roam the moors, with twenty different herds grazing across various commons. There is nothing more exciting than crossing paths with these lovely creatures during a walk or drive through the moors.
Exmoor Boasts England’s Highest Cliffs
The first thing you think about when considering Exmoor is probably the expansive moorland, but Exmoor is also home to the highest coastline on the British mainland.
The highest cliff named Great Hangman has a spectacular 800ft cliff face looming over the roaring waves below.
As well as having the highest cliffs, Exmoor can also claim one of the most isolated stretches of coastline as the cliff’s extreme heights make the shoreline extremely remote.
Exmoor has Inspired Generations of Writers
Countless writers and poets have been inspired by the stunning views and natural beauty found at Exmoor.
Early Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are among just some of the most notable examples. The origins of their seminal work ‘Lyrical Ballads’, which transformed 18th century English poetry, has often been attributed to their shared love of Exmoor’s coastal walks.
Calvert Trust Exmoor itself has a connection to Wordsworth too as our name ‘Calvert’ comes from his friend Raisley Calvert, who he dedicated a poem to upon his death.
There are Rumours of a Mysterious Exmoor Beast
With such a rugged and isolated landscape, it comes as no surprise that Exmoor has birthed a couple of mysteries. One of the biggest mysteries to come out of the moors is the popular tale of the supposed ‘Beast of Exmoor’.
Eyewitnesses have described seeing a large, black cat-like creature roaming various locations, with the first sighting being reported in the 1970s.
Since then, there have been numerous alleged sightings of the Beast despite no real concrete evidence that big cats are roaming the wilds of Exmoor!
Exmoor has countless wonders just waiting to be explored! Why not get a taste of what it has to offer by visiting us at Calvert Trust Exmoor? Exmoor is the perfect backdrop for our exciting and inclusive adventure activities.
The rest of North Devon is full of some great sights and attractions too – you can discover more in our blog below!
To find out more about our site and the kinds of activities we offer, you can get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
An adventure activity break is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and challenge yourself with attainable goals while surrounded by a supportive and encouraging environment.
If you are apprehensive about new experiences, booking your adventure holiday can feel like the first big step conquered. However, once you arrive at your adventure break, and you are about to try something new, anxiety can find a way to creep up on you once again.
For some, you may feel excited up until the point you are about to do the activity and then suddenly feel consumed by a feeling of nervousness that you haven’t experienced before or weren’t expecting.
How can you manage this sudden feeling, and what should you do if you are about to attempt your activity?
Here at Calvert Trust, we encourage people of all age groups and abilities to strive for their dreams during our accessible Devon activity breaks. We have plenty of experience with coaching guests through feelings of anxiety and want to share our top tips if you get caught out at the last minute!
For more information about anxiety and the signs, take a look at our blog below:
Accept Your Feelings
The first step is to accept the feeling. It may sound relatively simple, but acknowledging the unsettling feeling is constructive to help you manage it. It is important to remember that your feelings are entirely valid, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of them.
When you feel secure enough to continue the activity, it will feel like an even more significant achievement for you to be proud of.
Let Someone Know How You Feel
Next, tell someone you trust how you are genuinely feeling. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, and being honest about your feelings can help you accept them. You might want to tell a family member enjoying your activity break with you, a friend or an activity instructor.
All of our activity instructors are here to support you; they’ll want to know how you feel so they know the best ways to help you during your stay.
Visualise a Positive Experience
If you can, take some time to visualise what you want to do. This will help you build a positive picture in your brain and encourage you to try the activity you may feel apprehensive about.
Try Breathing Exercises
If you feel incredibly overwhelmed, the NHS website recommends trying breathing exercises when you feel onset anxiety.
This will change your focus from the activity at hand and also help you to regulate your breathing. For more advice on breathing exercises to try, take a look at the NHS advice on their website.
Remind Yourself of the Importance of Being Active
A fundamental way to combat anxiety, in general, is to do physical activity. When you don’t feel like doing the activity at hand, this might not feel easy but trying to remind yourself that it will help lift your feelings can help motivate you to give the activity a go.
If your child is attending an activity break and needs extra encouragement before the trip, our advice on how to get your child excited for a residential trip may help!
We ensure each of our guests has a wonderful time during our activity breaks. We also encourage everyone to conquer their fears with the support of our friendly and qualified activity instructors.
If you are interested in finding out more about the adventure breaks we provide, why not contact us today? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to speak to one of our team by calling 01598 763221 or emailing email@example.com
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe that every child should have access to adventure activities, especially children with disabilities. Therefore, we strive to provide the very best adventure breaks possible and encourage children of all abilities to visit our accessible centre in Devon.
Adventure activities of any kind are fun, exciting and educational. They encourage being outdoors, doing exercise and making friends. Plus adventure breaks help build independence and personal growth. The overall benefits are vast and ongoing, whatever the circumstances.
But did you know we’re the only disability centre of our kind in the south of England? Which means visiting us has its unique advantages. Here are the benefits of visiting Calvert Trust Exmoor for a child with a disability…
They will be well looked after
Everyone’s safety and happiness should be a top priority during an adventure break. So we have published some tips for choosing an accessible activity holiday to ensure you can get your dream break.
At the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, we can guarantee every child will be cared for equally, enjoying the same experiences as those around them. Our friendly staff will support parents and carers to look after everyone at all times. During activities, the highly trained instructors tailor the sessions so those with mild to complex disabilities can do the same as each other.
Children can enjoy all the facilities on-site, from watching TV to swimming to enjoying a meal. With everything in one place, children are surrounded by others to ensure they are looked after.
In our experience, when a child with a disability feels looked after, included and equal, they enjoy a sense of freedom and independence and have a wonderful time.
They will do new activities
There are plenty of activities adapted for all, such as abseiling, climbing, horse riding, canoeing, cycling, and much more. Some of these activities are only available for people with disabilities at specialist activity centres like ours.
Many guests visit for the first time questioning if the activities are do-able for a child with a disability. They are then pleasantly surprised when they see children doing tasks they didn’t think possible.
“Beth went abseiling…! I mean it’s a hard thing for Beth to focus walking downstairs but for her to walk down an almost vertical wall was completely emotional to watch her achieve something even I had limited her to not being able to do.”
– from Beth and Grace’s guest story
There are many benefits for a child successfully taking part in an activity they’ve never done before…
They will overcome nerves and fears
It’s only natural that children will feel nervous about doing an activity for the first time, and part of the experience is overcoming their worries and fears.
Their designated instructors will make children feel safe, giving thorough instructions in a way they can understand.
“Our instructor was incredible. He gave Edward the confidence to do every single activity, even the zip wire, which from our arrival, Edward was determined he wouldn’t be confident enough to do.”
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement when guests do an activity they enjoyed or achieved something they may not have thought possible. Which improves confidence and self-belief.
They will develop and grow
For schools, we have another news piece that discusses why learning outside the classroom is important. Yet the points discussed benefit all children taking part in outdoor and indoor adventure activities.
For many disabled children, being outside doing activities has the following benefits…
- Adaption to new situations and building resilience – Overcoming any difficulties or nerves may be their first taste of resilience, which is considered a crucial part of developing self-confidence
- Gaining a sense of responsibility and independence – Activity breaks give children new responsibilities, like taking care of their belongs, asking for their meals, or putting on a safety helmet. This will build on their sense of independence as they aim to do each thing correctly.
- Developing problem-solving skills, motor skills and co-ordination – The activities on offer encourage physical movements, which help develop both gross and fine motor skills. We understand that not every child can move some or all of their body, but where possible activities are adapted to accommodate their abilities.
- Building trust and communication – At Calvert Trust Exmoor, guests do activities with the same group and instructor throughout their stay. Everyone bonds to ensure that individuals are comfortable and that each person knows what they are doing in activities. So guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them. This leads to building trust and communication.
- Making new friends – By building trust and communication skills, many children learn how to interact with others during their stay and may even make new friends.
They will feel ongoing benefits
It’s well documented that physical exercise and being outdoors has positive and lasting benefits. Studies show physical outdoor activity lowers blood pressure, improves short-term memory, helps fight off illnesses and improves mental wellbeing. Read our news piece How an Adventure Break Can Improve Mental Health for more detail on this.
Residential experiences provide opportunities and benefits that cannot be achieved anywhere else. Advantages include academic success, general happiness and good wellbeing.
They can look forward to visiting the centre
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, including accessible holidays in Devon, and the build-up to a visit to Calvert Trust Exmoor can also have big benefits.
For example – the anticipation can lead to a more positive outlook. The act of choosing what to take and packing bags can increase focus. Discussing what the stay will involve could help improve communication. We also have tips available for things to pack and how to get your child excited if you need them.
Whether visiting for the first time or coming back for another stay, each child will gain benefits unique to them during their time at the centre. Join us soon to discover the benefits of visiting Calvert Trust Exmoor for a child with a disability.
If you would like to book a break with us or have a question about an upcoming visit, please phone us on 01598 763221 and the team will be willing to help.
Don’t forget that our breaks include activities, accommodation, meals, use of the facilities and more.
A question often asked during the booking process is “can we really do activities like abseiling, even with disabilities?” – and the answer is always a big YES. We’ve seen time and time again that a disability doesn’t stop anyone from doing accessible abseiling.
Abseiling may traditionally be seen as a ‘daredevil’ stunt down tall buildings or cliffs, but in reality it’s a fun outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The Calvert Trust Exmoor facilities
We have a wide range of exciting accessible activities, and abseiling is one of the most popular.
Abseiling takes place outside on a specially designed outdoor wall, whatever the weather.
We use and maintain our rope and safety equipment every day, and the expert instructors provide a safe activity for everyone to experience, adapting to all disabilities.
Anyone can do abseiling
Instructors will work with each individual to find a way for them to have a go, using harnesses, safety equipment and ropes to walk down the wall – or a manual wheelchair can be used if needed.
Any doubts and worries quickly disappear as the group cheer each other on and the instructors provide advice, guidance, and reassurance throughout.
How accessible abseiling sessions work
At the start of a session, the activity instructor will lead the group to be fitted out with harnesses and helmets and any other equipment needed. They will then go to the viewing area at the top of the wall for a full safety briefing, before taking it in turns abseiling.
Instructors ensure each person is secure and that they understand how to travel down the wall. Two people can abseil side by side, or individuals can go down on their own.
There are several variations on how the activity can be adapted for disabilities. We haven’t listed disabilities here but aim to provide some information on what you can expect in most circumstances.
Abseiling support for wheelchair users
We use the term “abseiling wall” but describing it as a steep “ramp” is also appropriate. The ground at the start is a level surface, then the top and the bottom are curved to allow a wheelchair to easily roll over it.
We have a specialist wheelchair that is designed for abseiling, and most guests choose to transfer into it manually or with a hoist. Other manual wheelchairs may be suitable depending on a decision from the instructor. Sadly, electric wheelchairs cannot be used for accessible abseiling. Instead, participants will be hoisted into our abseiling chair.
Guests in a wheelchair can control their speed down the wall with their hands, using the rope system. Anyone unable to hold or use the ropes will be controlled by the instructor.
Anyone using a wheelchair to abseil will have someone beside them throughout for additional encouragement.
Abseiling support for those with sensory disabilities
For those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, instructors can create a system which encompasses rope tugs as a means of communication. The instructor will be in sight of the guest at all times for constant visual cues.
Guests who are blind or have a visual impairment will be guided down by the voices of the instructor and the person abseiling beside them.
Abseiling support for those with learning or behavioural disabilities
We understand that it can be difficult for people with learning or behavioural disabilities to concentrate and focus on the task at hand or to fully understand what they are being asked to do.
With abseiling, we find the process of putting on harnesses and helmets before going to the top of the wall breaks the session into several stages, so not to overwhelm. This gives guests time to adapt and allows instructors to constantly talk and repeat what will happen.
The group will see the wall from the bottom before walking to the top, so everyone has time to process what is taking place. Instructors will patiently repeat what needs to be done as many times as needed to see the whole group abseiling successfully. Children or adults with learning or behavioural disabilities can also abseil first if they wish before focus is lost.
What are the benefits of abseiling?
Abseiling is excellent for developing problem-solving skills, motor skills and coordination – due to the process of travelling backwards whilst using the hands to control speed.
It gives the feeling of accomplishment and boosts confidence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement after guests have achieved something they may not have thought possible. This improves confidence and self-belief. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our expert team is always on hand to make sure everyone feels their best, especially when abseiling for the first time.
It helps build trust and communication
Guests will be with their group and their instructor throughout their stay. Everyone bonds to ensure that individuals are comfortable and that each person knows what they are doing in activities. So guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them.
When abseiling individually, the group will watch and provide support. Or if abseiling in pairs, talking to each other is essential to abseil side by side. The activity encourages friendships and builds relationships, whether abseiling with friends, family or other members of the group.
Having a disability should never hold anyone back from doing accessible abseiling, or any outdoor adventure activities – which is why Calvert Trust Exmoor is a fully accessible site where everyone can enjoy themselves during a stay and do a full range of fun activities.