This week we are visiting friends in the gloriously beautiful Brecon Beacons; between us we have two disabled adults, four SN children, one (occasionally two) wheelchairs, and are in general quite a tricky bunch to please!
Going anywhere as a group is, however, simple – as long as our destination is wheelchair accessible and has suitable toileting facilities for a wheelchair user with negligible independent mobility….!
One such place is Garwnant Visitor Centre.
Located just north of Merthyr Tydfil, the centre is easy to find and is sited amongst glorious woodland in the Brecon Beacons national park.
On the recommendation of our aforementioned friends, we all met up at the centre on a gloriously hot day; not only is it free to visit - always a bonus during the long summer holidays with kids - it also has more than ample parking (including plenty of disabled parking too!)
The main attraction for most children is the play area, very well equipped with swings (including a bird’s nest swing), rope climbing frame, stepping stones… and a lovely café with easy access for wheelchairs.
Given that the area is not just stunningly beautiful but also very hilly, having such a place fully catering for wheelchair users was brilliant.
Best of all, this attraction boasts a very good size Changing Places loo.
I can’t even begin to say how valuable this resource is for families like ours – Sam is now 7 years old, tall for his age and unable to support his own weight making lifting him both painful and difficult.
Having access to a simple ceiling mounted hoist and an adult-sized changing bench makes his personal care not only easier and safer but far more dignified for the little chap.
For those not interested in the play area, there are a number of beautiful walks through the surrounding woodland, following two trails.
While the first trail was fully wheelchair accessible, the second was slightly less so, one section in particular being steep and gravelly so hard to push the chair up, however the menfolk bravely persisted and conquered.
Along the walks there are wooden sculptures of animals etc to seek out and identify, and the reward for all this walking was the delicious ice cream back at the visitor centre.
Quite apart from the stunning surroundings, ease of access and friendly welcome, having a changing places facility on hand even at a relatively small attraction such as this made all the difference.