With each post I promised myself I will be diligent in updating my blog regularly and hopefully this time I can persist… Being in UK for the past 6 months had been a whirlwind of adventures and one of it was navigating the UK’s transportation system as a wheelchair user. I remembered on the very first month when I tried taking the train I was greeted with a huge surprise as all the trains require ramps! I took it for granted, assuming it will be the same as in Singapore, Taiwan or HK that you can just wheel in and out of the metro. My most important advice for wheelchair users coming from Asia that you need to book for an assistance to get in and out of the train in UK.
You can book for assistance either on the day itself when you buy a ticket at the ticket counter or when you are travelling to another city for example Sheffield, use this link https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/experience/assisted-travel/journeycare. It notifies the train company and the train stations that you will need an assistance and this gives them time to prepare and lowers the chances of the ramp not being there when you arrive at the train station. Trust me, when I say I worry every single time when I’m taking the trains alone because I have encountered for a couple of times there was no ramp or assistance on arrival. If this happens, please don’t hesitate to ask help from passengers alighting to alert the train staffs and also when the train manager (TM) checks your ticket ask them to remind the train station that you need a ramp (TMs are my life saviours because they will always come and check if you have received any assistance). Other than the logistic issue, the train rides were always comfortable and you get a table for yourself too.
Back to my Sheffield adventure, I travelled from Birmingham to Sheffield using the CrossCountry train which was 1 1/2 hour ride and met up with my lovely friend from Malaysia! From the station we walked or wheeled to Sheffield interchange to catch bus 218 to Chatsworth House. The 218 line goes straight to Chatsworth House, passing Bakewell too. You can buy the ticket from the bus driver (keep the ticket for entry discount to Chatsworth House) and don’t worry about missing your stops because the bus driver will shout out the destination. The whole journey lasted around 50 minutes and we arrived at Chatsworth House with a darkened skies. Fortunately, we managed to explore the garden first before the heavy rain came pouring down. The garden was very accessible with gravel path at some parts of the garden. You will be given a map that shows the accessible routes and the place was huge!
Be prepared to spend 2 hours marvelling at every part of the house and also at the paintings selected by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Our initial plan was to visit the little town called Bakewell but the weather was too rainy and cold so we made our way back to Sheffield. We decided to stay a night at the Jury Inn hotel and I can’t stop complimenting how accessible the hotel room was. It was step free all the way and the bathroom had a roll in shower with grab handles too.
The next morning we woke up early to have breakfast and do a bit of exploring around the city. Having breakfast at Steam Yard is a must for every instagram lovers! Steam Yard is famous for its cronut so I tried the Pecan cronut and it was delicious and surprisingly not too sweet. After a calorie laden breakfast, we had to burn it off by strolling around the city. Sheffield was small enough to walk around without the need for bus but I do notice that it was very hilly at most parts of the city. All in all, it was a relaxing trip and Chatsworth House is a place you have to visit if you are in UK!
“Just go. Go see all the beauty in the world”