I’m always on the lookout for wheelchair accessible holidays within the UK, so when I discovered the fantastic Calvert Trust I knew I had to make a booking.
Calvert Trust was created in 1976 for people with disabilities to enjoy a range of outdoors activities that were fun as well as accessible. Calvert Trust has grown so much that it now boasts three centres; Exmoor, Kielder and Lake District. There is something for everyone including activity drop-in days, self-catering holidays, respite care, activity holidays to activity days.
So last month I got to spend my birthday in the middle of the forest at Calvert Trust Kielder and it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. As our Nephew was coming along with us on this trip we didn’t want to book somewhere that involved a long drive, so Kielder was the perfect choice due to it’s short two and half hour drive from home.
Arriving at Calvert Trust Kielder
Calvert Trust Kielder is set amongst Kielder Water & Forest Park so you can imagine how beautiful it is. Trees and water for as far as your eye can see.
We arrived around 3.30pm and headed for the reception to check-in. The reception desk has a lowered section for wheelchair users, so this made it easier when I was speaking to the staff. Even though check-in is 4pm we were given our key and allowed to head off to our chalet. We were also given an information pack full of menus, activities, local info and more.
It was freezing outside so we were glad to be able to get to our lodge early, get dinner and enjoy the rest of our night. Our lodge was located a short drive/walk from the reception centre.
The Bradbury Chalet
Our home for the next three nights was the stylish Bradbury Chalet, which we all fell in love with as soon as we stepped inside. Even from the outside, we could tell we were in for an amazing time.
With the car parked under the carport, my partner and sister began to unload the umpteen bags (bearing in mind we were only there for 3 nights) while my nephew and I went inside to get out of the cold and have a look around.
The chalet felt warm and welcoming from the icy temperature outside. The first thing my nephew spotted was the telescope sitting in the living area facing out onto the beautiful forest view. The view could be seen from the open plan living, kitchen and dining area through the bi-fold patio doors, which opened onto the private terrace.
I loved the open plan layout as there was so much space to move around and I didn’t feel restricted as to where I could go in my wheelchair. It was perfect!
The living area had a large flat screen TV with Freesat/DVD, comfortable sofa and armchairs (I even parked my bottom on one of these) as well as a range of books and board games.
The kitchen was one of my favourite areas (even though I
don’t can’t cook). I loved the modern look with the pop of colour of the cabinets. The open plan kitchen made it easier to observe my meals being prepared for me (it’s a hard life I lead haha). The kitchen had state of the art appliances and gadgets. The cabinets were easy to slide open and there was a pull-out pantry too.
The wide hallway divides the living and kitchen area from the bedrooms. There were two bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as two cupboards, one of which stored a shower chair.
Master Bedroom Suite
My room was the master bedroom suite with a king size bed and ensuite bathroom. The bed was comfortable and had the most luxurious bedding to keep me warm during the cold nights.
You’d never know that this bedroom has an overhead hoist for disabled guests as it’s fitted discreetly inside the units surrounding the bed. I thought this was a great feature to save space and was something I’ve never seen before.
There were mirror wardrobes on one side of the bed and plenty of space on the side with the hoist. This meant there was enough space to park your wheelchair either for manual transfers or when using the overhead hoist. A telephone with big buttons was placed beside the bed, which is ideal for people that may struggle with regular telephones.
Master Ensuite Bathroom
The master ensuite bathroom was another favourite and one of the coolest rooms within the chalet. It was a huge hit for us all, but especially for my nephew.
One of the features that my nephew loved was the colour changing lights, which could be adjusted from either inside the shower, next to the bath or at the bathroom door. He had a great time changing the lights to whatever colour he wanted, but orange being his favourite (this boy loves the colour orange).
The shower and steam room had a lovely mosaic seat, but if you prefer you can also use the shower chair instead as there was enough room for it. The shower controls were positioned within reach and there were chrome grab bars for support.
The jet spa whirlpool bath was massive and had a TV built into the wall with a waterproof TV remote. There is no hoist or bath riser to help you in and out of the bath, but if you can manage independently you may find the wide ledge around the bath helpful to sit on while lowering yourself in and out.
The toilet was opposite the bath, but there was lots of space for manoeuvring my wheelchair. The position of the toilet allows for left-hand wheelchair transfers and there is enough space for the use of a portable hoist. Chrome grab bars were on each side of the toilet for extra support.
The roll-under sink was perfect as it was a good height and size, which meant I was able to wash without any difficulty. The sink had hand towel hangers built in so it was easy to wash my hands etc without having to reach too far for a towel.
The second bedroom has twin beds that can be joined to make a double bed. This is where my sister and nephew slept. I found this bedroom to be a lot smaller and there wasn’t much space for a wheelchair to move around. A flat-screen TV was wall mounted opposite the beds.
There was a second toilet in the hallway, which was also smaller than the master bathroom, but there was still enough space for my wheelchair. It had a pedestal sink, walk-in shower and toilet. Grab bars at the toilet and inside the shower. The colour changing lights also featured in this room.
The Private Patio Terrace and Hot Tub
The Bradbury has a lovely private patio terrace with garden furniture, BBQ grill and hot tub. Everything you’d need for a fun, relaxing time with friends and family.
What I loved the most about the patio terrace was that it was completely private and even though there was a chalet on either side of ours, it was difficult to actually see them which was down to the stone wall shielding us. This provided privacy for the hot tub and gave a true sense of being secluded in the forest.
The view was absolutely stunning. It was lovely to wake up in the morning and look out to the frost covered trees. It gave the feeling that Christmas was just around the corner.
It would be lovely in all seasons, but I would love to experience a stay in this lodge during the summer months when the weather is warmer and we could enjoy a few BBQ’s in the sun.
The patio is well lit at night with spotlights and a nitecrete™ illuminated path, which glows in the dark. We found this helpful when we were outside star gazing, as Kielder Forest has some of the darkest skies in Europe. It’s a truly magical place to see the stars in all their glistening glory.
As we were celebrating my birthday at the chalet we decided to take a pile of sparklers to have some fun with on the night of my birthday and even though it was -4 outside we had a great time.
There is no need to leave the site during your time at Calvert Trust if you don’t want to. As our holiday was self-catering we made sure we had enough food and drink to last the duration of our stay. However, we did order takeaway food from the sites very own restaurant/dining room on our second night, which was my birthday.
All we had to do was choose what we wanted from the menu and call the number provided in the information pack. All orders must be placed by 4pm and collected by 5.30pm.
The food was really good and although we were all stuffed, we made sure we had room for the lovely gluten-free birthday cake my Sister made for me. She did so well making it and it tasted delicious.
The Bradbury was full of the latest technology and mod-cons. The telephone, radio/music system, colour-changing lights, iPod docking station, remote-controlled blinds were some of the featured gadgets within the lodge.
The Bradbury Chalet at Calvert Trust Kielder was the perfect choice for our accessible holiday to the Northumberland Forest. It exceeded our expectations and left us wanting to return again (and very soon). Not only was The Bradbury stylish it was completely accessible. This was a refreshing experience as all too often accessible lodges can seem very hospital like, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Calvert Trust has got it all worked out from the range of accessible chalets to the accessible outdoor activities. I even got to try a few of the outdoor activities during my time there, which I will share with you very soon. Stay tuned!