Disabled Access at the UK’s hidden gem beach resort: A travel guide to Seaburn for wheelchair users
I’m cruising along the most beautiful beach, the wet sand is bumpy under my wheels and the seagulls squawk loudly overhead. The smell of the sea and the sound of the waves calm me, as they always do, and I look over to see my little dog Poppy running in big circles, loving the freedom of the beach. I realise that’s exactly how I’m feeling at this moment – free.
I won’t pretend that accessible travel is ever easy, and travelling as a disabled person during a pandemic certainly brings an extra level of things to worry about – but, after an 8-month travel hiatus, I was determined to soak up every moment of this trip. Glorious weather, the friendliest welcome, cosy, accessible accommodation, an amazing new mobility aid, and a stunning accessible coastline all combined to make me fall in love with Seaburn, Sunderland’s hidden gem.
If 2020 taught me anything, it was the importance of appreciating the privilege of travel. When The Inn Collection Group got in touch offering a two-night stay for me to review the accessible facilities at their brand new Seaburn Inn, I happily accepted and extended our stay to truly appreciate everything that this beautiful corner of the North East coast had to offer.
Disclaimer: The Inn Collection Group provided accommodation and meals on a complimentary basis for the purposes of this review. This is an honest review and my opinions, as always, are entirely my own. This review is entirely based on my personal experience of staying at The Seaburn Inn, as a manual wheelchair user who is able to transfer and is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to accessibility at the accommodation. I was also gifted a complimentary meal at STACK Seaburn, and cakes from The Little Cakery By The Sea.
Wheelchair Accessible Hotel in Seaburn, Sunderland
The Seaburn Inn is one of The Inn Collection Group’s newest properties – a contemporary seafront pub with rooms, opened in July 2021. The Inn is accessible, family-friendly – with a children’s play area – and dogs are welcome in designated areas and rooms. There’s free on-site parking, including designated blue badge bays.
Wheelchair Accessible Room
Cosy yet contemporary, the Seaburn Inn’s accessible rooms look and feel gorgeous. They’re seriously spacious, with a twin or king-sized comfy beds. Tea and coffee, hairdryer, TV, desk and free WiFi are all available.
The beds are all devan, which is not ideal for those travelling with a mobile hoist. I’ve fed this back to the Inn’s management, and they will be purchasing bed raisers.
Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom
As with the bedroom, the bathrooms are really spacious and tastefully decorated. All accessible bathrooms at The Seaburn Inn have a bathtub with grab bars and a transfer point (regular readers will know that I can manage a tub with assistance, and as I don’t have one at home it’s a bit of a treat) however there are other Inns with wet room showers available.
The Seaburn Inn serves food every day from 7.30 am to 9 pm. From hearty breakfasts – which are delicious, I loved the Eggs Benedict – to light bites, classic mains and a Sunday roast. Taking advantage of its location, the Inn also serves a number of local fish and seafood dishes. Everything we ate at the Inn was seriously tasty, well cooked and generous. The Inn’s stunning outdoor terrace overlooks the beach and has ample seating.
Read More: Wheelchair Accessible Hotel in Seaburn
Exploring the North East Coast with the Davinci Citta powered wheelchair add-on
Before my trip to Seaburn, I’d never been able to access the beach independently. Back in June I collected a new manual wheelchair and powered front wheel add-on from Davinci Mobility. I was still building up confidence with it on this trip, and it was the perfect place to do that. Piers, beaches, parks, and gardens; as well as shops, restaurants and pubs – the Davinci Citta used with my manual chair and a pair of off-road rear wheels got me everywhere I wanted to go.
Those looking to hire mobility equipment in the area should check out Beach Access North East, a charity based in Northumberland. They offer free loan of beach wheelchairs on beaches at on the beaches at Newbiggin, Blyth, Whitley Bay, Cullercoats, Tynemouth, South Shields, and Hartlepool.
Read More: The DaVinci Citta Trailrider electric powered front wheel attachment
Accessible places to visit in Seaburn, Sunderland
Roker and Seaburn Beaches
Sunderland’s twin beaches at Roker and Seaburn are the perfect place to unwind. The golden sands are a sandcastle builders paradise, and with lifeguards on duty, they are great for paddling. There are miles of beautiful coastline to explore, and the wet, compacted sand is perfect for beach wheelchairs.
The wide-open promenade and landscaped seafront make for a perfect stroll in the sea air. Seaburn Promenade has ramp access, and a Changing Places accessible toilet is available, as well as wheelchair accessible picnic benches.
Dogs are restricted to certain areas during the summer months.
Read More: Seaburn Promenade Detailed Access Guide
A beautiful park with direct access from the beach, with lots to see and do for all the whole family - children's play areas, a sensory garden, a train track, a bandstand, basketball courts, football pitches, a boating lake and a bowling green.
The park also plays host to a variety of seasonal theatre productions and events and is home to the 'smugglers caves'. There are some lovely floral displays, plus water features to enjoy and during the winter, there is a wonderful display of lights.
There’s on-street Blue Badge parking nearby, ramped access, tarmac paths, and plenty of benches, as well as accessible toilets. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead.
Read More: Roker Park Detailed Access Guide
Wheelchair accessible places to eat in Seaburn
As well as some tasty meals at The Seaburn Inn, and the obligators takeaway fish & chips on the promenade, we enjoyed street food at Seaburn’s trendy new social hub, and a gorgeous surprise cake delivery.
This buzzing social hub has street-food style outlets and bars, surrounding benches and booths in an open air setting. There’s so much choice of food; we went for Greek and Mexican.
STACK is dog friendly and has an accessible toilet, and its right next door to The Seaburn Inn.
Read More: STACK Seaburn Leisure and Social Community Hub
The Little Cakery By The Sea
The Little Cakery By The Sea at STACK Seaburn serves vast array of delicious treats ranging from homemade cakes and traybakes though to fresh cream scones, family picnic boxes and drinks to go including milkshakes and ice frappes to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth.
We were gifted a surprise delivery of cakes to our hotel room – seriously tasty!
Read More: The Little Cakery By The Sea on Facebook
My main takeaway from my first trip to Seaburn was, why haven’t I been before?! Everyone we met was so friendly, and the investment made into accessibility was clear to see. I can’t wait to return and explore the stunning north east coast some more.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with The Inn Collection Group before, staying at The Amble Inn in 2018.
Read More: Northumberland by Wheelchair