Being a full-time power wheelchair user, I never imagined that I could enjoy a day trip to the beach like everyone else. However, the growing accessibility of beaches in the UK is enabling disabled people to experience the country’s breathtaking coastline with a range of accessible facilities, including the free rental of beach wheelchairs.
Now that the warmer weather is here I’m looking forward to visiting some of these accessible beaches, especially the many beautiful beaches in Scotland offering great wheelchair accessibility.
This got me thinking of last summer when my family and I were eager to make the most of the rare sunshine in Scotland and head to the beach. We packed a picnic and drove through the Fife Coastal Path, arriving in St Andrews.
It was a great day so I’d love to share it with you in case you are interested in visiting West Sands Beach in St Andrews but not sure what the accessibility is like.
Using My Beach Wheelchair
I was excited to use my beach wheelchair again after almost two years. The WheelEEZ Beach wheelchair conversion kit is a game-changer for wheelchair users. It converts my manual wheelchair into a beach wheelchair, allowing me to access every part of the beach and even go right down to the water’s edge.
Visiting St Andrews West Sands Beach
St Andrews has several beaches, but we decided to base ourselves at West Sands Beach. With its two-mile stretch of golden sand dunes and incredible views across the sea, it was the perfect spot for a day out with my family.
When we arrived, we were able to park close to one of the sandy pathways down to the beach. However, there is also a wooden walkway providing wheelchair access to the beach.
Although we forgot the wheelchair armrests, we managed to improvise by tying a scarf around me and the backrest to prevent me from falling over to the side due to having poor trunk control.
Beach Wheelchair Rental at St Andrews West Sands Beach
St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs
Although I took my own beach wheelchair on this occasion, West Sands Beach also offers free rental of beach wheelchairs, which is fantastic. This is provided by St Andrews Environmental Network in partnership with the Hamish Foundation.
Depending on your individual needs and preferences, there are around five beach wheelchairs available including the Hippocampe and debug chairs. A hoist is available to help with transfers, so remember to bring your own sling along with you.
They are available to rent from the hut at West Sands Beach, but only on certain days. Advance booking is also required, so it’s best to check before visiting. To check availability and make a booking visit the St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs website.
I’m really keen to try one of their beach wheelchairs the next time I visit West Sands.
Accessible toilets are available at the beach and a Changing Places facility is located at Bruce Embankment Public Toilets. I didn’t visit the toilets on this occasion but I will try the next time and check out what they are like.
Aside from the beach, there is something for everyone at West Sands. From relaxation to water activities, the beach is a popular destination for tourists and locals.
The Seashell Café sells snacks, and next to the beach is the world-renowned golf course. The town centre is just a fifteen-minute walk away, which is ideal if you want to enjoy a spot of shopping or grab some food in one of the restaurants.
The Wardlaw Museum at the University of St Andrews is located on The Scores, the same street as St Andrews Castle. The museum houses an impressive collection of art, history, science, and natural history that showcases the University’s past. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit. Plus it has a wheelchair accessible rooftop terrace with stunning sea views across St Andrews Bay.
Scenic drive home
After a great day out, we decided to stop for chips on the way home. We enjoyed a detour through the lovely towns of Crail, Pittenween, and Elie, looking for a chip shop that didn’t have a massive queue. Finally, we found one in Leven, so we sat in our WAV and ate the chips at the promenade.
Overall, it was a fantastic day out, and we are now on a mission to visit as many Scottish beaches as possible during the summer months.