The Cotswolds is an area of outstanding beauty in central-southwest England that attracts tourists from all over the UK and the world. Due to its hilly landscape and a variety of historic, listed buildings it might be a bit daunting for wheelchair users. However, there are many places that are very wheelchair friendly and definitely worth a visit. Here are our favourite places in the Cotswolds and the description of their accessibility features for wheelchair users.
WESTONBIRT ARBORETUM, Westonbirt, Tetbury, GL8 8QS.
Official website: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum | Forestry England
Westonbirt Arboretum is a great place for long walks among nature all year round. In spring, you can find a variety of blossoming trees like, for example, magnolias and cherry tress, as well as bluebells and many other flowers.
In autumn, it offers a very colourful display of leaves. With 2.500 trees, it is one of the most remarkable collections of trees in the world.
Most of the paths are even and flat. There is a section of steeper gradient, which is very well marked if you wanted to avoid it.
There is also a beautiful, wheelchair accessible Tree Top Walkway, a few cafes and a gift shop which offers a lot of choice for nature lovers.
Car park is free, no height restriction, and there are many disabled places located by the entrance. There are disabled toilets at the entrance to the park and by the gift shop as well as a changing room with a hoist.
You can hire mobility scooters, manual wheelchairs or manual trike wheelchair for free (needs to be booked in advance via a website Hire mobility equipment at Westonbirt | Forestry England. Carer’s ticket is free.
Westonbirt Arboretum is a great place to visit for the whole family. Kids can explore many trials, including the Gruffalo trail.
Dogs are permitted in most parts of the park, with the exception of The Old Arboretum, and can be off the lead in Silk Wood.
Westonbirt Arboretum hosts a lot of workshops and events, including open air cinema in the summer and enchanted Christmas trial in winter (tickets to illuminated trials need to be booked well in advance, they usually sell out).
WWT SLIMBRIDGE, Slimbridge, GL2 7BT.
Wetland Wildlife Reserve, WWT Slimbridge is an amazing wetland conservation charity and is another place for nature lovers in the Cotswolds area, which was founded by Sir Peter Scott in 1946. Since then, the charity has been dedicated to preserve English wetlands. Being there, you can really feel the connection to nature. And it is very wheelchair friendly – it offers free disabled parking spaces located close to the entrance (no height restriction), disabled toilets, a changing room with a hoist, lift to the viewing tower and even, mostly flat paths. It is a beautiful and educational place to visit for the whole family. Due to many birds roaming free, dogs are not allowed in the centre. Free carer’s tickets available.
Official website: Slimbridge Wetland Centre | WWT
Bourton-on-the-Water is a very picturesque village in the Cotswolds, located on the banks of the River Windrush. There is a long, wheelchair friendly path going along the river, with beautiful stone bridges, with a variety of pubs, cafes and gift shops to choose from along the way.
Two great wheelchair accessible places to visit in the village are Motoring Museum and Birdland Park.
COTSWOLD MOTORING MUSEUM, Bourton-on-the-Water
Cotswold Motoring Museum is an amazing collection exploring the history of the 20th century motoring and it is a home of a very well known little car, Brum.
Official website: Home – Cotswold Motoring and Toy Museum (cotswoldmotoringmuseum.co.uk)
The museum does not seem very big when you approach the building, but the collection is very impressive. Definitely worth a visit.
Just a few minutes along down the river, there is another great place for a family day out in Bourton-on-the-Water, Birdland Park and Gardens.
BIRDLAND PARK AND GARDENS, Bourton-on-the-Water, GL54 2AY
Official website: Birdland Park & Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire
Birdland Park and Gardens is a wide collection of birds, including two species of penguins, lots of different parrots, geese, flamingos, storks, owls and many more as well as a Jurrasic Park. You can meet one of the most famous penguins in the world, Spike the King Penguin (Spike has his own social media page and is currently followed by over 18k people). The paths in the park are very even, wide and flat. There is a special viewing ramp giving priority for wheelchair users located by the penguins, so you can see them really well. Daily penguin feed takes place at 2:30 pm and is very interesting. There is a free blue badge car park nearby (Rissington Road car park), and a car park on Station Road, but the second one is a bit further and you have to pay even if you have a blue badge. The park is dog friendly, but the dogs need to be on the lead. There are cafes and disabled toilets on site. Wheelchairs are available to hire free of charge, but need to be booked in advance.
STRATFORD PARK and MUSEUM IN THE PARK, Stroud, GL5 4AF.
Official website: Stratford Park — Museum in the Park
Beautiful park with a lake. Most of it is wheelchair accessible – you might have to avoid some steeper paths if using a manual chair. Free disabled parking by the leisure centre and next to the Museum in The Park (go past the main car park through a barrier). The paths are wide and very even. There is a nice children play area and a sensory garden as well as a woodland walk. There is a Premier Inn located right opposite the park which offers wheelchair accessible rooms if you wanted to stay in the area.
Museum in The Park with a beautiful garden and a cafe is fully wheelchair accessible with a lift to go to the first floor. It has a decent sized disabled toilet. There are also task sheets for kids to do on the way round to keep them busy. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and is free of charge.
SAUL JUNCTION, GL2 7JY.
The place where the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal meet the Stroudwater Canal. Great to roll on the even path along the canal, watching the nature as well as narrow boats and kayaks passing by. Car park is located by the Stabled Cafe and there are two disabled parking spaces a bit further down, by the visitor’s centre, no height restriction. Disabled toilet is also located by the visitor’s centre.
The Stables cafe located at Saul Junction offers very tasty breakfast, lunch and a selections of cakes. Check the menu here Main (my-free.website)
WOLFRIDGE ALPACA, Alveston, BS35 3QU
Official website: Wolfridge Alpaca
When you drive A38 between Gloucester and Bristol, a nice place to stop for lunch is Wolfridge Alpaca. Very tasty food and coffee, reasonable prices. You can sit indoors or outdoors, enjoy your lunch and watch alpacas at the same time and have a walk/wheel around for free, to see them a bit closer. IThe cafe offers free parking (stone surface – assistance might be needed for manual chair users, no height restriction) and disabled toilet on site. In addition, you can book alpaca experience, children and adult craft workshops and afternoon teas.
COTSWOLD FARM PARK, Kineton, Cheltenham, GL54 5UG
Visited in April 2023
Cotswold Farm Park in Cheltenham is great fun, with plenty of animals to see and feed. There is plenty of disabled parking, no height restriction. Disabled toilet with changing room available on site. The paths are wide and even, but there are little stones in some parts, so you might need some assistance if you are a manual chair user. There is a nice cafe on site. Assistance dogs allowed everywhere, other dogs allowed only to the welcome building, cafe and a wildlife path. Lots of play areas for kids.
Official website: Cotswold Farm Park – Home of Adam Henson
NEWARK PARK, Wotton-under-Edge, GL12 7PZ
Visited in January 2022
Official website: Newark Park | Gloucestershire | National Trust
Newark Park, Gloucestershire – beautiful, mostly wheelchair accessible park. You can get accessibility map at the entry. It is part of National Trust and offers beautiful garden and woodland walks, amazing views, peackocks walking around Car park is free for blue badge holders, refreshments available on site. Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on leads. Disabled toilet with hoist available at visitor reception. Free carer’s tickets available.
GARDNERS POOL, Frampton on Severn
Great place to visit to anyone that likes fishing. There are two wheelchair priority fishing pegs right at the entry, which are spacious and flat surfaced. Some nice carps to catch there as well as Bream, Roach, Perch, Tench and Rudd. You can park a car right behind/next to the peg, big enough to fit a van.
More information: Gloucester United Anglers Association | Gardners Pool — Lobbys Tackle
COTSWOLD CANALS, Stonehouse, GL10 3RF
You can start at Costa Coffee as there is a free car park for the customers for 3 hours (three disabled spaces, no height restriction). There is also a disabled toilet in the café.
From the café, it is a two-three minute, step-free walk to Bond’s Mill Gatehouse, where you can get to the canal path through the industrial estate car park.
If you turn right, you might spot a turtle in the water – the locals said it is usually there and has been for many years.
If you turn left, you can get to “The Ocean” where you can see Ocean Jubilee Bridge, a swan family and have a picnic by St Cyr’s Church.
It is also possible to park for free near the church and start your walk from there, then you do not need to worry about time restriction, or at the car park by Stroud District Council, located very close to a lovely, wheelchair friendly café Kitsch Coffee and Wine Bar (Home | Kitsch Coffee and Wine Bar | Ebley (kitschcoffeewinebar.com, with outside seating area right by the canal. The wildlife by the canal is amazing – we’ve seen lots of different birds including kingfisher, egret, swans, ducks and heron, hundreds of colourful dragonflies, fish, butterflies and a turtle.
The path is even enough for a power chair, but some parts might be tricky for the manual chair. The most even part was by the Ocean Jubilee Bridge. A beautiful place that we will definitely go back to and explore a bit more. To those interested in history, Stonehouse had a very significant role in World War II. Hoffman Bearings factory built there in late 1939- early 1941 made ball and roller bearings for Lancaster bombers and cores for bullets, while Bond’s Mill was where they made Sperry gyrocompasses and other instruments for the aircraft. There is a little visitor’s centre in the Bond’s Mill Gatehouse. It is only open for 2 hours on Sundays and it it not wheelchair accessible (a few steps to go in); however, one of the volunteers came out to talk to us and told us the history of the place.
If you prefer to see the canals from a different perspective – being on the water – a charity called Cotswold Boatmobility offers accessible boating, including wheelyboats Cotswold Boatmobility – Freedom On Water.
Painswick Rococo Gardens, Painswick, GL6 6TH
Rococo Gardens in Painswick is especially famous for the snowdrops in January/February, but it is also a great to visit at different times of year. It is wheelchair accessible for a powered wheelchair or but if you plan to go in a manual wheelchair we would advise taking someone strong to help push as some parts of the path are quite steep. There is a detailed access guide available to download from the website PRG-Access-Guide-Sept-2022-1.pdf (rococogarden.org.uk), which might help you choose the most suitable route. Dogs allowed on short leads. Free carer’s ticket available. There is a cafe with pasties, sausage rolls and cakes on site. Free car park, no height restriction.
SELSLEY COMMON AND COALEY VIEW POINT
Great place to take dogs for a walk, Jack loves it there. The path is quite even, but sloped in some places, so might be hard in a manual chair unless you have a power attachment, for example, a Batec Bike. Free, spacious car park available, no height restriction. You can often see paragliders, gliders and remote control planes from the hill.
If you would rather avoid quite a long walk/wheel over the grass surface and would just like to see the view, there is a beautiful view point 5 minutes drive from Selsley Common called Coaley View Point, with a free car park and a picnic area. There is a height restriction, but the van could fit.
Dursley is a historic market town located at the edge of Cotswolds. The residential areas are not very wheelchair friendly due to many hilly areas, but the high street is flat, with quite a lot of disabled parking available.
Opposite the high street, there is a wheelchair accessible gym and swimming pool, The Pulse (The Pulse Dursley | Pool, Gym and Fitness Classes) with a disabled changing room and a hoist.
Another wheelchair accessible sport you can try in Dursley is archery. Tyndale Archers is a very friendly club that welcomes new members of all abilities and organises ‘have a go’ sessions (Tyndale Archers Home Page).
If you would like to know more on archery and how Shane adapted his equipment, see our article here: Archery, a great sport and hobby for wheelchair users – Wheelchair Accessible Places and Activities (wheelwithus.com)
There are quite a few nice, wheelchair friendly cafes and restaurants, including our favourite, dog friendly, all day breakfast cafe called The Ugly Mug, Gravity (fish and chips restaurant located in the high street, Gravity Fish & Chips (gravityfishandchips.co.uk), Leaf and Ground (Home – Leaf and Ground), which is also a deli and a garden centre and a great, tradition pub The Old Spot (The Old Spot Inn – Dursley | Traditional Pub, Good Food, Real Ales). Unfortunately, the garden seating area in the pub is not wheelchair accessible.
Leaf and Ground also offers a nice walk around a beautiful pond and by the woodlands, with views stretching over to the River Severn; however, parts of the path are quite steep.
A few minutes drive from the town in the woods, there is a lovely wheelchair friendly woodland path, Dursley Play and Sculpture Trail and, just a bit further up the woodland road, Breakheart Quarry, with flat, even paths, BBQ and picnic areas and a kids play area. Car parking spaces are available along the road and in the quarry.
If you drive a few minutes further up the woodland road, you will get to Stinchcombe Hill Golf Club, which is also a really nice place to visit for a walk or a meal in the club’s cafe (it is open to the public). It is also an amazing place to watch the sunrise.
The golf’s club cafe has an accessible outside seating area. To go inside, there is one little treshold step (it is possible for us to go over it even in a power chair). It is well worth a visit, the food is tasty and prices very reasonable.
COTSWOLD WATER PARK near Cirencester
Official website: Cotswold Water Park | Official Website
Cotswold water park offers a variety of walks and places to eat located around the lakes. So far, we have only been near Lake 6 (car park by Spine Road East, GL7 5TL). We had a great walk along the Thames path and a delicious pizza in Pizzeria 720 afterwards (Pizzeria720° | Check Out Our New Menu!), but the area is definitely worth exploring a bit more.
Official website: Bibury, a beautiful Cotswolds village
Bibury is a very picturesque village located on the River Coln. You can find a visitor’s guide including accessibility features on a National Trust Website: Bibury | Gloucestershire | National Trust. One of the interesting places to visit is Bibury Trout Farm (official website: Buy Trout Online | Live Trout For Sale UK | Bibury Trout Farm). The paths between the ponds are mostly wheelchair friendly, although might be a bit tricky in some places if you’re a manual wheelchair user. The best part for us was feeding the trout as they were coming really close and were very well visible. The farm also offers BBQ areas hire and ‘catch your own’ trout. There is a nice cafe on site.
More to follow…
Hope you have enjoyed the article and that it will be helpful if you are planning to visit the Cotswolds. As we visit more places, (as much as health and financial situation allows us to), we will be updating this article.
All the places described in the article are located within an hour drive from Gloucester – GLOUCESTER – beautiful, wheelchair friendly city by the cotswolds – Wheelchair Accessible Places and Activities (wheelwithus.com)
Fancy a seaside break just 2 hours drive from Gloucester? Check out our article on Devon BEAUTIFUL DEVON. GREAT PLACE TO VISIT FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS – Wheelchair Accessible Places and Activities (wheelwithus.com) Maybe a bit of history to explore just an hour away? Why not visit Stonehenge? STONEHENGE – an incredible vip experience of a world famous monument – Wheelchair Accessible Places and Activities (wheelwithus.com)