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Day trip from London with elderly parent who has walking limitations

Day trip from London with elderly parent who has walking limitations

Old Mar 18th, 2010, 11:51 AM
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Day trip from London with elderly parent who has walking limitations

Traveling to London April 26-May 7 with my elderly mother and another friend. We have taken day trips in the past to Brighton, Windsor and Oxford. I would like to get out of the city for a day either by train or on a bus tour but would like suggestions where we can spend an afternoon which does not include a walking - guided tour which would be out since my mother cannot walk fast enough to keep up with a tour. We enjoy gardens, a little bit of shopping and having a nice lunch or afternoon tea. I'm considering a bus tour to the Cotswolds but would be interested in other suggestions as well.

One more thing, would it be best to not schedule such a day trip on the Bank Holiday weekend which is the first weekend in May?

Thanks for your help,
ckiskie is offline  
Old Mar 18th, 2010, 12:15 PM
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One possibility might be Cambridge and Ely. You can get a train to Cambridge and Ely is about 15 mins further on. Ely has a wonderful cathedral and we visited a lovely old fashioned tearoom near the river, called Peacocks. It's won some awards from the Tea Guild. They served lunches and cake etc.


This might involve a bit more walking than you'd like but worth a thought.

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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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You know what I'd do -- Hire a driver guide for a day. There are many good guides - even some London Cabbies do day trips. But I'd look at Blue Badge site http://www.blue-badge-guides.com/ There is a link to Blue Badges who do driving tours.

You can book a driver guide and be picked up/dropped off at your hotel and go exactly where/for as long as you and the guide think would work.

I would NOT do a coach tour - no flexibility at all.

Some options would be gardens of Kent/East Sussex, or RHS Wisley (magnificent), the Cotswolds, villages of Suffolk, or just about anywhere.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 05:49 PM
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Much better to do during the middle of the week rather than the holiday weekend. I would NOT take a bus tours since they often have to park far from what you want to see. I would just pick whatever place you want, take a train and then taxis when you get to wherever. That way she can go at her own pace - and not be stuck sitting on an empty bus.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 11:25 PM
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England's really not designed for rewarding ex-London daytrips by non-European visitors who aren't too nimble, especially if budget's a consideration. Whatever you do needs some compromise on spending, interest or comfort - and a fair amount of planning. A few thoughts:

- Blue Badge cabdrivers (ie licensed tour guides)can be very expensive. But, uniquely, they've got vehicles designed for comfortable ingress/egress and they can usually get (and sometimes, though not always, park) almost anywhere in even the most restricted historic city.
- Oxford and Cambridge are, for your purposes, likely to be bloody awful if you just turn up. But both have HOHO buses (unlike conventional tour buses, always highly accessible) from their railway station, and spectacularly helpful (and underworked) college servants at each college's main entrance. Hire a portable wheelchair, take it to one or other, use the HOHO then just ask for help at each porter's lodge if you need it.

- Some "one-stop" destinations are the easiest for your purposes. Big gardens (like Wisley or Kew) have - usually free - wheelchairs at the entrance, and unlike most British historic cities are then entirely accessible by flat, even, sealed paths. Just get yourself to the front gate and life then gets relatively easy (You don't have to USE the wheelchair, of course. You say you're keeping it with you just in case...).
- The same general principle applies to blockbuster indoor atttractions like Blenheim or Windsor Castle, though they also share a common complication.

Regular followers of this Forum might die of shock to read this, but Blenheim is close to ideal for your purposes: it's got a range of vehicles the less nimble can use, there's a lot to see (if you like that sort of thing) inside the house, and extensive, mostly flat or ramped, gardens. Best of all, if you research the site plans carefully, you'll see you can wheel mum outside to a tearoom near a bus stop, leave her there while you take the chair back and then both get the (specifically designed for easy access) regular bus back to the station. Accessibility details at http://www.blenheimpalace.com/thepal...ssibility.html. The complication, though, is that you really need a taxi from Oxford station. And, like anywhere else, you need to think through the whole excursion to see if there's an elephant trap somewhere.

Obviously some aged p's are out and out downright nuisances on all this: too proud to use a stick or have a wheelchair handy, but still prepared to moan if a distance is too much for them. Only you know how to manage yours - but getting them to accept help really is important on daytrips. You'll find a few other thoughtstarters at:
And it might be worth investing in: www.accessibleguide.co.uk

In the context of the two websites I've quoted, "blue badge" means in possession of a European standard disability badge. Some offers made to the travel companions of a person with access problems (like most trains and Blenheim) aren't limited to blue badges - but disabled parking is.
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Old Mar 19th, 2010, 05:08 AM
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but Blenheim is close to ideal for your purposes>>>

What have you done with the real Flanneur?
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Old Mar 19th, 2010, 10:13 AM
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Thanks for all your suggestions. After checking with my traveling companions, hopefully, we can find a destination that fits the bill.
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Old Mar 19th, 2010, 11:22 AM
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I agree there's nothing worse than trying to keep up with a walking tour when you just can't do it or being stuck on a coach tour with no flexibility when you want to plan your own day.

My very elderly parents loved Blenheim--for all the reasons Flanner mentioned and more. I lucked out because although I didn't have a handicapped tag/plate for my car, I explained to the car park attendant that my mom couldn't walk far--he let me drop her off as close as possible to the entrance and let me park quite close to the entrance as well.

On a separate trip, I took my parents to Stratford upon Avon--my mom was able to manage it because we took a taxi to Paddington, allowed plenty of time to get to the train, etc.

Once in Stratford we took taxis between the sites--all are small and manageable--Ann Hathaway's cottage, Shakespeare's birthplace, Trinity Church, etc. It was a memorable day for all.

One caution on the small, lightweight portable wheel chairs--they are useless on graveled walks.

Good luck.
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