Disabled Access Day 2019 took place this past weekend and I was excited to support the event by visiting Stirling Castle. Historic Scotland hired a Mobiloo for Stirling Castle’s disabled access day event, so it was great to go along as a Mobiloo ambassador and support their amazing work on such a special day.
Disabled Access Day 16th March 2019
Disabled Access Day is a biannual event with hundreds of organisations across the UK taking part. Created in 2015 as a way of celebrating good access as well as creating opportunities and encouraging people to try something new.
I don’t know about you, but going somewhere new for the first time can be quite stressful. It can be more challenging for someone with a disability as there are so many factors to consider before even leaving the house.
Is it accessible? Does it have a step? Is there an accessible toilet? Is there a roll-in shower in the hotel room? Will there be a viewing platform at the music venue? These are just some of the questions that I need to be answered when.
Every day should be disabled access day, but I know that’s not realistic. Things take time and I’m hopeful that one day everywhere will be fully accessible. In the meantime, it is important to have this special day as it allows disabled people and their families to feel valued and more confident to go out and explore new places without fear of accessibility barriers.
Changing Places toilets are extremely important as over a 1/4 million people need these facilities as standard accessible toilets are inadequate. More and more places need to install Changing Places so that disabled adults and children do not have to lay on dirty toilet floors in order to be changed etc. In many cases that isn’t possible if the disabled person requires the use of a hoist so the only options are to stay at home, restrict fluid while out or make sure you aren’t far from home in case you need to nip home to use the toilet.
That’s when Mobiloo saves the day. Mobiloo is a mobile accessible toilet with an adult-sized changing bench and hoist that travels around the UK and Ireland attending venues and events that don’t have adequate toilet facilities for disabled adults and children.
This is why I’m a proud Mobiloo ambassador.
Mobiloo at Stirling Castle
We immediately spotted Mobiloo as soon as we arrived as it was parked up at the entrance of Stirling Castle.
It was great to meet the driver/attendant, Rich. He was lovely and so friendly. He showed us inside the Mobiloo and it highlighted just how amazing these adapted vans are for disabled people and their friends and family.
I have no previous memories of ever visiting Stirling Castle, but there is a good chance I did on a school trip many years ago. Even if I did visit on a school trip, I don’t think I was using my wheelchair full-time back then. So this was my first visit to Stirling Castle in my wheelchair.
We almost decided against visiting the castle due to the weather. Of all the days to snow, it had to be the day we had plans for Disabled Access Day. I’m glad the heavy rain, winds, snow and cold didn’t stop us though as we had a great time at Stirling Castle.
I was close to turning into an ice cube but it was worth it – the scenery was beautiful. The castle and the view were lovely covered in snow. We were also pleasantly surprised at the wheelchair accessibility throughout the castle.
Stirling Castle Disabled Parking and Castle Entrance
As we made our way from the car park to the entrance we were welcomed to the Castle by a friendly member of staff. He let us know that there was a mobility car if we needed assistance up the cobblestone slope. Not sure how steep it was and as it was freezing, we decided to use the car.
It turned out we didn’t actually use or need the mobility car as we joined a kids tour which my nephew enjoyed especially as he has been learning about Castles at school. Our tour guide was Frank and he was really interesting and animated which the kids loved. It lasted around 30 minutes and gave us a good overview by visiting several places outside and inside the castle.
To be expected, there were cobblestones covering the majority of the paths, so it was a bumpy ride. Despite the cobbles, I managed in my power wheelchair and took my time when going up or down the gradients.
Kids Tour of Stirling Castle
We started off at The Queen Anne Gardens and listened to Frank tell us fun stories of its history. He then took us to the square outside The Great Hall before entering The Royal Palace. This was the home of Mary Queen of Scots and costumed interpreters brought the rooms to life as they told us what it was like.
We got to see the King and Queen’s bedrooms and colourfully painted replicas of the Stirling Heads. My nephew enjoyed the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries as he had to find the eleven unicorns hidden amongst the tapestries on the walls.
Next stop was the Stirling Heads Gallery. A member of staff helped us call for the lift to take us up to the gallery. It was a pleasant surprise to see especially being such an old Castle you wouldn’t expect there to be a modern lift. This shows Stirling Castle values their visitors and installing a lift in areas that can accommodate it so everyone can visit the exhibition.
The Stirling Heads are metre wide 16th-century oak medallions carved with images of queens, kings, nobles, Roman emperors etc. Each medallion is displayed in glass cabinets.
The last room we visited was The Access Gallery which is ideal for visitors with mobility difficulties. This is where we got to see displays, images and interactive games etc and see parts of the castle that is difficult to access for wheelchair users.
Just off from the Stirling Heads Gallery is a fairly large accessible toilet (see below) with space for left transfers and grab bars at each side of the toilet.
There was also an accessible toilet in the Unicorn Cafe (see below). I didn’t use this toilet, but my sister snapped a photo for me. Unfortunately, I think it looks a bit on the small side.
The Stirling Castle website states there are accessible toilets in the following:
- Off the Guardroom Square
- Unicorn Cafe
- Great Hall
Stirling Castle is a great visitor attraction for all the family to visit. I was super pleased to visit on Disabled Access Day and support Mobiloo and Euan’s Guide. Much like my visit to Edinburgh Castle, I was surprised by how much of the Castle I was able to access in my wheelchair. Understandably, there are certain parts of the Castle that are not wheelchair accessible, but the majority is.
It was good to see a lift had been installed to allow access to The Stirling Heads Gallery. There are lots of cobbles so it’s best to keep that in mind before you visit. It was bumpy, but I managed in my power wheelchair and I just made sure to take my time to lessen the impact. There is also cobbled gradients, however, there is a mobility car for wheelchair users and people with mobility difficulties. All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon in the snow at Stirling Castle.
Have you been to Stirling Castle? How did you find the accessibility?