I don’t know if it was because we hadn’t been out in the fresh air for two years, but we were both shattered when we got back from an exciting first day in Falkirk.
Fortunately, we were booked into the four-star MacDonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa, so we had a comfortable night.
The plan for day two day in Falkirk was another Cycling Without Age Scotland trishaw ride. Visit two historic houses and the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway Museum.
Read about our first day in Falkirk here: Accessible Falkirk – Wheelchair Friendly Things to Do
This trip was designed with The Bimblers in mind. All activities were complimentary, and reasonable expenses were to be reimbursed. However, we have complete editorial control over the content of this post.
Callendar Park with Cycling Without Age Scotland
We met Ray from Cycling Without Age Scotland in front of Callendar House.
There are several car parks around Callendar Park, but you can park for free in front of the main house if you have a blue badge.
We went through the safety check again and discussed the previous day’s trishaw ride. Once again, Ray oozed enthusiasm and demonstrated how proud he was of Cycling Without Age Scotland.
Ray talked us through the morning’s ride and explained he’d already scouted the route around the park to avoid any uneven ground. This level of detail gives me confidence in recommending the scheme.
Before I tell you about our trishaw ride, let’s take a moment to talk about Callendar Park.
What is Callendar Park?
Described as the jewel of parks in Falkirk, Callendar Park is a sprawling greenspace covering 170 acres.
Callendar Park has a long history dating back to the 12th century, and before that is thought to have come into existence during the construction of the Roman Antonine Wall around 142 AD.
We’re interested in Callendar Park as it is today. In particular, how accessible it is to wheelchair users and people with mobility problems.
There are miles of tarmac paths to explore. However, there are some inclines, so I recommend doing it the way we did in the comfort of a trishaw.
If you’re able, you could hire an electric bike and explore that way, but nothing beats the trishaw.
There are refreshments and activity stops around the park, including a Roman Fort themed play park for the children. There are several accessible play items within the play area.
There is also a toilet block housing an accessible toilet. I didn’t go inside, but I checked, and it is a RADAR key toilet.
Because there is so much of Callendar Park to see, I recommend hiring a trishaw from Cycling Without Age Scotland.
We did, and here’s what we got up to.
Trishaw Ride in Callendar Park
We set off and made our way in the early morning sun to explore the park. We were heading to one of the more elevated areas of the park to get a feel for its size.
What struck me about Callendar Park is it was clean and well kept.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a community park, so if you look close enough, you’ll find the odd bit of litter, but to the naked eye, it was a pleasure to be in and an oasis to be proud of.
Our ride took us past the Forth Bike e-bike station, and the children’s Roman Fort play area.
I must’ve been driving Ray mad with my frequent requests to stop to admire the view, especially the tree blossoms. They look beautiful this time of year.
Once at the top of the path, we could survey at least some of Callendar Park. It’s hard to believe it’s in the middle of a built-up town.
As we made our way back down the hill, the rear of Callender House came into view, and it crept up on us from behind the trees.
It is impressive and rightly takes its place in Scotland’s cultural history. But, whenever I visit historic houses, my mind wanders to the story it has to tell.
We’ll take a closer look at Callendar House and its history later; let us get back to exploring the park.
There are areas of Callendar Park Ray decided would be too bumpy for Bridget, so we headed for the lake.
Again poor Ray had to put up with me asking to stop the trishaw, jumping off, taking a photo and jumping back on. I probably added an hour to our journey; sorry, Ray!
There are many facts and figures Ray shared as we rode around the park. Sadly, I was too engrossed in the surroundings to write them down.
Like Christine, Ray’s knowledge of his area was second to none. His storytelling ability made the ride even more interesting than it already was.
You’ll have to book a trishaw ride for yourself to see and hear what I mean.
Our final destination on the trishaw was the head of a tree-lined driveway, from where you can imagine horse-drawn carriages approaching the main house.
You can almost hear the clip-clop of hooves, the rattling of tackle, and the gravel crunch compressed under the carriage wheels.
As you travel down the drive, Callender House leaps into view. I know it has been used in films, and without seeing them, this has got to be the must-have shot.
Sadly, our time with Ray and Cycling Without Age Scotland was ending.
I’m kicking myself now, but we had been offered a third trishaw ride on the Bo’ness foreshore.
I refused because I thought it’d be too much for Bridget, but it wouldn’t have been. It’s, in my opinion, a fabulous way to travel, so smooth, relaxing and informative.
Back at the house, we bid our fond farewells to Ray with a promise to return, and we made our way to the Callender House tearooms for lunch.
Summary of Our Time with Cycling Without Age Scotland
Without question, Cycling Without Age Scotland made this trip special.
We were introduced to a fantastic initiative that I know our community will benefit from. And we met two of the nicest, most understanding people I have ever met on our travels.
When we return to Scotland, I know we’ll be getting in touch with Cycling Without Age Scotland, and I think you should too.
As I said in my first post about Cycling Without Age Scotland and Accessible Falkirk, in the coming weeks, I will be writing an entire post about Cycling Without Age Scotland so look out for it.
The Bimblers and Cycling Without Age Scotland at Callendar Park
Callendar House and Tearoom
In its current state, Callendar House is not only imposing but a statement of past wealth and privilege.
As you see it today, the house resembles a french chateau with its circular turrets and grand external steps.
The main entrance to Callendar House is temporarily not accessible for wheelchair users, but to the left of the front door is an accessible entrance.
Using a wheelchair height, disabled access push button, you can operate the automatic doors and enter the house.
Immediately there is a lift to access the upper floors and tearoom.
Alternatively, you can explore The Story of Callendar House gallery on the ground floor.
We started with The Story of Callendar House, and while interesting, I became a bit obsessed with the information about the Antonine Wall.
In my fifty-odd years, I always believed that Hadrians Wall was the furthest north the Romans ventured.
But, 2000 years ago, they created the Antonine Wall, their north-western frontier in Scotland.
This post isn’t about the Antonine Wall, but they say every day is a school day.
There are more areas to explore on the ground floor, including a Georgian Kitchen, but we were up against the clock, so we headed to the tearoom.
The lift we used to get to the tearoom isn’t huge. Bridget was in her wheelchair, and I fitted in, but that was it. I’m not sure you’d get a large mobility scooter in the lift?
Callendar House Tearoom
In truth, we’d had a large breakfast, so neither of us was hungry. Out of courtesy, Bridget opted for a piece of cake and a pot of tea. And I had a coffee.
However, the tearoom was not lost on us. High ceilings, decorative wall panels, a massive fireplace and large bay windows with a vista fitting its occupant’s stature were all present.
After lunch, it was time to start winding our Falkirk trip up but not before visiting the Museum of Scottish Railways and Kinneil House.
Address: Callendar House, Callendar Park, Falkirk, FK1 1YR
Facebook: @FalkirkLeisureandCulture and @CallendarHouse
Twitter: @FalkirkLandC and @FalkirkCultural
Website: Callendar House
Museum of Scottish Railways
Continuing the theme of exploring historic Scotland, we headed over to the Museum of Scottish Railways at Bo’ness and Kinneil railway station.
It has to be said; that the museum is in the process of reconfiguring its accessible entrance. It is doing a lot of work to make the museum accessible to as many people as possible.
This means moving the entrance, moving disabled parking spaces, building accessible walkways, reconfiguring railway crossings, and adding ramps to kerbs.
As you can imagine, this is a big undertaking, and we commend them for doing it.
We accessed the museum by crossing the railway lines, which have been filled in so wheelchairs can cross the lines. Then, along a purpose-built path and into a new reception area that will become the new accessible entrance.
There is an accessible toilet when you enter the main museum.
Once inside, it’s steam engine heaven. People with mobility problems can’t access the engines (understandable), but you don’t need to.
You can still see the engines, read the low-level information boards, look at the railway museum exhibits and access carriages via a purpose-built ramp.
I wish I knew more about steam engines, so I’d be able to give you more information. I don’t, so let the pictures tell the story instead.
Our final destination in Accessible Falkirk was Kinneil House, and it’s there we’ll go next.
Address: The Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, Bo’ness Station, Union St, Bo’ness EH51 9AQ
Website: Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway
Kinneil House and Museum
Kinneil House is open to the public on selected days; please see the website for opening times and book a guided tour.
Sadly, we didn’t get to see inside the house, but that in no way diminishes its historical importance.
The house, which stands on the Kinneil estate, is home to some of the finest renaissance wall paintings and was one of the homes of the Dukes of Hamilton.
It was late in the day when we arrived at the Kinneil museum.
Robert, our guide, was still full of enthusiasm and, despite our limited time, managed to cram 2000 years of history into thirty minutes.
The Kinneil museum is housed inside a 17th-century stable block. We managed to get around inside, but there is a cobblestone floor, so be advised some might find it difficult.
The ground floor museum was right up my street because it depicted what I would call contemporary history.
In other words, it was a social history that we today can relate to.
A series of videos, photographs, interactive exhibits, and even a smell test was brought to life by Robert.
I only wish we had more time in the museum to go deeper into the history of the Kinneil estate.
Addresses: Kinneil Museum, Duchess Anne Cottages, Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness, EH51 0PR
Facebook: @VisitHistoricScotland and @FalkirkLeisureandCulture
Twitter: @welovehistory and @FalkirkLandC
Website: Kinneil House and Museum
Falkirk Explored App
This seems like a good time to introduce you to the Falkirk Explored app.
As I have said, we couldn’t go inside Kinneil House, and because we were late, we didn’t have enough time to explore the Kinneil estate.
The good news is we didn’t need to because I had already virtually visited the Kinneil Estate using the Falkirk Explored app.
You can download the Falkirk Explored app from Google Play and the Apple App Store. The app is a helpful companion, especially if you need an audio description.
Here’s a little video of the app:
As you can see, it has tours, maps, augmented reality (whatever that is?), audio guides and the facility to create a bespoke tour.
There is information in the app for many of Falkirk’s iconic attractions, historic houses and trails. My highlight is the audio stories because they are easy listening and so damn engrossing.
Falkirk Accessible Hotels
We stayed in two hotels in Falkirk, the Grange Manor Hotel and the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa.
I won’t write full reviews in this post. I’ll do that later. I am happy to report both were accessible to us.
Grange Manor Hotel
The four-star Grange Manor Hotel is ideal for accessing The Helix, minutes away.
Overall our stay was comfortable. As ambulatory wheelchair users, it was accessible to us. The hotel was clean and staff friendly, and breakfast was up there with the best.
However, no hotel is without its challenges when you’re a wheelchair user.
Access to the hotel is via a ramp. The entrance doors are manual; these can be tricky for a solo wheelchair user but not so bad when travelling with a companion. The main entrance can be seen from reception, so staff members often came to help with the doors.
The onsite Cook’s Restaurant has steps to the main entrance.
Wheelchair users can access the restaurant via a ramp and fire exit. Ideally, there would be an accessible main entrance, but to be honest, we didn’t mind it because it was closer to the hotel.
There is a large car park with disabled parking spaces at the front of the hotel and a car park at the side of the hotel.
Our bedroom was in the garden wing. We had twin beds which are fine, and the room was spacious and had all the facilities we needed.
It would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Red Emergency Alarm chords. As is quite common in hotels, they were tied up on arrival, rendering them useless.
I raised this with the reception and directed them to Euan’s Guide for Red Emergency Alarm chord warning cards. My advice was well received, promising to remedy it and raise it with housekeeping.
I don’t want to sound negative about the Grange Manor Hotel because it doesn’t deserve it. I would hope our observations and advice were helpful. In effect, it’s why we’re accessible travel bloggers.
The question is, would we stay at the Grange Manor Hotel again? The answer is yes, and you’ll see why when I write a full review.
Address: Glensburgh Rd, Grangemouth FK3 8XJ
Website: Grange Manor Hotel
Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa
The second hotel we stayed in was the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa.
It has a huge car park but only a couple of disabled parking bays outside the main entrance? There are speed bumps on the road, which can be tricky to navigate in a wheelchair.
The entrance to the hotel is level access with a set of automatic doors, and then a set of manual doors. After a friendly and efficient welcome, you are directed toward your room.
From reception, there is a small carpeted ramp which takes you into the accommodation area of the hotel.
Our room was on the ground floor at the rear of the hotel.
Our room wasn’t an accessible bedroom. It was a Super Deluxe King bedroom.
In reality, it was more accessible than most accessible bedrooms we’ve stayed in. I did know beforehand that no accessible rooms were available, and after getting more details of the room, I agreed it would work for us, and it did.
The bedroom was spacious, had all the usual facilities and some I wasn’t expecting. The bowl of fruit, fancy chocolates and Nespresso coffee machine were nice touches.
The vast double bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. And as a CPAP user, I was grateful for having multiple plug sockets, including next to the bed.
The hotel restaurant is at the front of the hotel. Access to the restaurant from reception is via a couple of steps, obviously no good for us. The accessible entrance was down a small corridor, which was no hardship.
The Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa was the first Macdonald hotel we stayed in, and I have to say I am impressed, not that they need my endorsement.
Address: Grange Rd, Polmont, Falkirk FK2 0YB
Website: Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa
Accessible Falkirk Summary
If you have read Accessible Falkirk – Wheelchair Friendly Things to Do and this post in full, you’ll know Bridget, and I loved our visit to Falkirk.
We have always loved visiting Scotland, and we love the people, its history and the scenery. But, the stand out aspect of this visit was Cycling Without Age Scotland.
Exploring Scotland from the comfort of a trishaw, listening to the stories behind iconic destinations and experiencing the passion for the scheme has left a lasting impression on us.
A special thanks must go to Christine and Ray. Between them, they made us feel welcome, cared about our comfort and supported what we try to do with The Bimblers. They and the volunteers make Cycling Without Age Scotland what it is, and we thank them for it.
Did you read about our first day in Falkirk: Accessible Falkirk – Wheelchair Friendly Things to Do
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