The Sill in Northumberland in a Wheelchair

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Written By The Bimblers

Rob and Bridget - The Bimblers are two of the UK's leading accessible travel bloggers. Their motto: Life is an adventure; let's make it accessible.

When we were invited to visit The Sill in Northumberland, I was curious.

Described as the “UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre“, I couldn’t think what that could be?

But, I like learning new things, especially when we’re travelling, so I agreed to visit.

We were in Northumberland on an organised trip with The Inn Collection. We were there to review The Hogs Head Inn and The Commissioners Quay.

While we were there, I wanted to visit lesser-known attractions as part of our visit, and The Sill was perfect.

What is The Sill?

The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre
Accessible Entrance

So, what is the national landscape discovery centre?

It’s not just one thing; it’s many things.

At its heart, I would describe it as a landscape education centre. But, not boring education, immersive education.

I didn’t know I was interested in the landscape until I visited, which is a good sign that The Sill is effective.

Things to do at The Sill

There are permanent and rolling exhibitions. Meaning no two visits are the same.

See: What’s On

During our visit we:

  • I had a go of VR
  • Changing Landscapes
  • Bringing the Landscape to Life
  • Lunch in the Cafe
  • I visited the Grassland Roof

Virtual Reality Tour of the Landscape

The first thing I did was go on a virtual reality tour of the landscape.

Rob using a VR headset to explore the Northumberland landscape
Rob Bimbler uses a virtual reality headset to explore the landscape.

Granted, it’s not my best look, but I enjoyed it.

It’s odd at first, but you soon get the hang of flying over the landscape like a bird.

On a broader point, virtual reality tours are helpful when you have mobility problems.

They’re not as good as the real thing but make places accessible that otherwise wouldn’t be.

Changing Landscapes

The second thing we did was create a landscape using coloured sand.

That is a rubbish description of the impressive exhibit. But you know me; I’m rough around the edges.

Coloured Sand Simulating the Changing Landscape
The landscape Rob Bimbler created.
Changing Landscape Exhibit
How to create a digital landscape at The Sill.

When I finished shaping the landscape, the exhibit worked its magic, and I watched the weather’s effects on our landscape.

Bringing the Landscape to Life Exhibition

Bringing the Landscape to Life Exhibit
Bringing the landscape to life exhibition at The Sill.

We spent most of our time in a state of the art Permanent Exhibition.

It’s a journey through time and brings the landscape to life.

And I quote:

It includes geological exhibits, interactive displays, artwork installations and audio-visual displays.

The Exhibition aims to transform how people discover and explore the natural and cultural heritage of the landscape.

It will ignite your curiosity about the environment and empower you to ask big questions about the world around you.

The Sill – National Landscape Discovery Centre

Here are a few photos. The lighting was low, so don’t blame the photographer.

Ramp leading to the Bringing the Landscape to Life Exhibition
Ramp to Bringing the Landscape to Life.
Bridget sitting in her wheelchair at The Sill
Bridget is ready to discover the Northumberland landscape.
Bridget reading information cards at The Sill
Bridget was engrossed in the landscape.

Refreshments at the Sill

We had a quick cuppa in the cafe then headed for the roof terrace.

Wildflower and Grassland Roof Terrace

Bridget in her wheelchair on the roof terrace at The Sill
Bridget on the roof terrace at The Sill.

Clever design means you can access the roof using an inclined but doable ramp.

Accessible ramp on the Wildflower and Grassland Roof Terrace at The Sill in Northumberland.
The accessible ramp on the roof terrace at The Sill.

It ambles up the side of the building culminating in a viewing terrace to relax and enjoy the vistas.

View Over The Northumberland Countryside
Can you see Hadrian’s Wall?

This is a one of a kind, never been tried before roof terrace.

If you can manage the incline, I highly recommend it.

Have a read up on how unique the Whin Wildflower and Grassland roof terrace is?

Accessibility at The Sill

Easy access walkways at The Sill
Accessible walkways at The Sill.

The Sill’s website says that accessibility is at the heart of what they do.

And do you know what? I believe them!

There are dedicated disabled parking and drop off points.

Moving around the building is effortless with a wheelchair.

And there is an accessible toilet and Changing Places toilet on the ground floor.

Accessible Toilets at The Sill
Accessible toilets at The Sill.
Changing Places Toilet at the Sill
Changing Places at The Sill.

If you plan on visiting the Sill, take a moment to read their Access Statement.

It’s one of the most comprehensive access statements I have ever seen.

Worth a visit?

Yes, I would say it is.

The thing is, you don’t have to be an eco-warrior to find The Sill interesting.

If anything, it’s the kind of place that expands your mind and opens your eyes.

It’s a journey of discovery, a way to discover your landscape.

I came away appreciating our landscape. Understanding it is not just something to look at but something to participate in, respect and protect.

The Sill
Visit Northumberland

Where next?

A Weekend in Northumberland

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