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Trip Review: England: Somerset/London and traveling with a disability

I had posted on this forum (in the England section) for some help on planning my trip so I just wanted to say thank you to those who had given me any ideas. Over two weeks we covered Oxford, Somerset, and London.

Much of what we did on this trip was not my first time to do these and some were. I was taking my mom to England for the first time since she was unable to go with me in the past. She has a disability and walking long distances is difficult, so we decided to take her walker. This helped immensely. However, if anyone is ever thinking of taking a walker, one with larger wheels would have been the way to go. With all the cobblestone, the normal wheels on the walkers here in the US are too small. We did notice that locals with walkers had larger wheels, and they were 3 wheelers and not 4 like we have here. We actually had a couple locals ask us where she got hers because they wanted 4 wheels and a seat. Taking one that had a seat really came in handy on the tube when seats were full, at Trooping the Colour, walking the grounds of castles and palaces and at the airports.

For this entire trip I utilized AirBnb and HomeAway, neither of which I had done before, but the cost was so much better than a hotel. I would absolutely do this again, my hosts were very nice and helpful. One of our struggles was launderettes. They were actually really hard to find. The only one that was near us for an entire week of the trip, we didn’t realize was a dry cleaners until about a day prior to departing from there and we didn’t have time to drop our laundry there, so we ended up hand washing and hang drying what we definitely needed washed.

I drove for the first time this trip…and I can’t lie, many posts on this forum had me nervous about renting a car there and driving on “the wrong side of the road”. Conclusion: If you are a good driver (like I am) it’s not a big deal!!!! Just do your research on road signs ahead of time! And a GPS/SatNav is absolutely necessary.

It was nice getting to pick and choose where to stop. On the day we drove from Oxford to our next stop in Cheddar, we last minute changed our plans of where to stop that day and decided on stopping at Avebury and then Lacock, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if we were not driving.

We used Cheddar as a base for a week and during that week we went to Bath, Wells and Dunster. To those who suggested Dunster, thank you!! It quickly became one of my favorite castles I’ve ever visited. I loved that you get to see so much more of the castle and get to wander through the rooms unlike so many that have rooms roped off and you can only peak your head in. It was a really wonderful place. Someone suggested we drive to Selworthy, which we did….wow, insanely beautiful. Absolutely wonderful view from the church on the hill with a beautiful cemetery. The same for Wells. it’s such a great size for a day trip. Bath was Bath…beautiful city, but I think I’m done with it now. I really enjoyed the smaller towns much more.

In retrospect, as much as I love London, I think I should have taken my mom elsewhere. But then again, she’s never been, so she had to see it. We stayed in Greenwich, where I lived for 6 months prior and I wanted her to see it, but I do wish I had just paid more to stay closer in to cut off travel time since it was her first trip. I know London well so I had planned carefully and didn’t jam pack the day like so many try to do, but still we ended up knocking off things from the list last minute due to weather. That weather earlier this week was just awful, especially for someone with a disability and a walker.

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Posted by
149 posts

Unfortunately people with disabilities are out of luck with seeing certain places so it’s imperative to plan carefully, look at the maps and read the fine print of everything ahead of time. For instance the Tower of London, she managed to just use her walking stick and go through two floors, but since it’s Grade I listed, they cannot put ramps or lifts in all of it so she was unable to see everything. The same went for Lacock Abbey, she couldn’t go in with a walker. Overall though, everywhere was very accommodating and helpful to her.
We did go to Trooping the Colour, which made it all worth it, especially since the weather held up that day. We followed some advice we found on the internet about standing on the mall instead of in front go Buckingham Palace like so many chose to do…and what great advice that was. After the queen returned to the palace, the police opened up the Mall for everyone to walk up to the Palace, meanwhile everyone that had been at the Palace the whole time was stuck behind barricades while we walked right in front of them for a front row view of the balcony appearance and the flyover.

New things which were very much worth seeing: The Queens Diamond Jubilee Gallery at Westminster Abbey, wonderful items to see for only £5 more, and a great view down into the Nave. It was very nice in comparison to how horribly crowded it was downstairs.
Dior Exhibit at the V&A: If you have interest in fashion and can get day of tickets, it was a great display.

Posted by
315 posts

Thank you for the detailed report— you’ve given me some ideas (esp. Dunster & Selworthy)! Great advice about the walker, if I take my parents. I’m glad you found driving easy. My husband enjoys driving in the UK (& gets a manual transmission for added thrills lol). I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!

My husband was in London on business a few years ago and was excited to see the Trooping the Colour rehearsal – apparently it's everything except the queen (and the crowds!). But of course what a thrill to see the real thing.

Posted by
8871 posts

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Very pleased that you were able to take Mom. Love hearing that posters recommendations such as Dunster contributed to your travel enjoyment.

London can be daunting and its Unfortunate Mother Nature was helpful.

Bravo for renting the car and driving on the opposite side of the road. As I to have experienced, not that difficult.

Lastly I'm jealous. I've yet to be able to arrange a Spring sojourn and have yet to see the Trooping of The Color. What a glorious moment of pomp and circumstance for your mother's visit. Bravo!!!!