The Rings, Fife: Access Review
The ultimate flexible, accessible accommodation in the tranquil Scottish countryside.
If I told you that the most flexible accessible accommodation I’d ever stayed in was on a 90 acre Scottish farm, would you believe me?! It’s true! Accommodating groups both large and small in a mind boggling array of different combinations, this purpose built self-catering holiday cottage in Fife has been designed with wheelchair accessibility in mind.
Disclaimer: The Rings provided my accommodation 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 Rings, 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 came across The Rings way back in 2011 before it was even built, in my previous role at Tourism for All. The owner, Moira Henderson, approached me for support with her application for planning permission, to show that this proposed unique accommodation would meet demand from disabled travellers and increase provision for holidaymakers with access requirements in an area where options are limited.
Moira herself has a fascinating life story to tell, so much so that her journey to building and opening The Rings has been documented in her book ‘You Couldn’t Make It Up’. Written from the heart, it’s a wonderful read showing Moira’s determination and ultimate desire to help others.
Set in 90 acres of rural, tranquil Fife farmland 20 minutes from St Andrews, The Rings offers flexible self-catering cottages with a total of 8 bedrooms, sleeping up to 16 people. But what if you want to go on holiday alone, or with a smaller group? The beauty of The Rings is that each of it’s en-suite rooms can be booked singularly, with additional living and dining areas, in fact in up to 21 different combinations, and there’s a standalone studio apartment.
The individual rooms, with gorgeous crystal themed names like Topaz and Amethyst, were all designed to be accessible from the very first thought, and importantly offer a variety of options to meet individual needs.
The accommodation is dog friendly, so of course Poppy came along with Darren and I.
I loved the Onyx bedroom – cosy yet contemporary, with twin beds (one of which is electrically adjustable) which can also be made up as a double.
There’s a ceiling track for hoist, and, probably my favourite feature – a brilliant space-saving corner combining a dressing table with clearance underneath, storage drawers and a pull down clothes rail.
The Sapphire bedroom has a similar layout but with two electrically adjustable beds and no hoist track.
Both bedrooms have adjoining en-suite bathrooms, with the Onyx bathroom being my favourite kind – providing the choice between a wet room shower and bath tub.
Various shower chairs are available to borrow, as well as a range of other equipment including profile beds, toilet frames, hoist motors, mobile hoists and more.
The Sapphire bathroom is a full wet room with shower.
Movable grab bars are used in both bathrooms, giving flexible accessibility for individual needs.
During our stay I also had the chance to use the powered spa bath. This special feature is unique to the Opal room with 14 jets, and a bath chair which can rotate 90 degrees and also has a leg support. Regular readers will know that I love a bath tub, and am fortunate to be able to access a standard tub with some help; but this is an amazing option for those who find climbing in an out of the bath too difficult.
Accessible Living Area
For the first time ever, I was delighted that it was raining on the first day of our break! In keeping with the theme of all of our recent trips, it was lovely to just relax and enjoy the surroundings, particularly the amazing, big sky views of the rolling countryside through the floor to ceiling windows.
A designated dining area has a table to seat up to 8 guests, alongside the fully equipped kitchen.
Doors open out directly on to the decking, which is sheltered overhead so the gorgeous views can be enjoyed all year round.
I contacted Moira a few weeks before our stay, to ask about accessible, dog friendly restaurants nearby. She recommended The Boudingait in Cupar, and I’m so glad she did! We dined on this incredible Tomahawk steak sharing board, with allll of the sides. I honestly can’t recommend it enough, everything was so tasty and brilliant value. They just request that you order in advance for this particular dish.
It was a challenge, but we pretty much managed to eat everything and squeeze in a slice of chocolate fudge cake for pudding!
The Boudingait has a step-free entrance with a slight lip, and an accessible toilet.
Happily we woke to sunshine on the last day of our trip, perfect for a trip to the beach. We drove for 20 minutes or so over to St Andrews, where a wonderful local charity offers beach wheelchairs to hire for free.
Of course donations are always welcome, and the wheelchairs must be pre-booked via the Hamish Foundation on specific days of the week, available seasonally.
Though this wasn’t my first time on a beach, it was the first time I’d used a wheelchair actually designed to go on sand, and what a difference it made. So wonderful to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the Scottish coast without struggling.
It was Poppy’s first time on a beach, which she absolutely loved, along with lots of other doggies.
We had such a relaxing and restorative weekend at The Rings, with some much needed chill time but also some new experiences. Memories were made and horizons were broadened, taking full advantage of what Moira calls ‘The Rings Effect’.
I hope to return to this very special place again soon.
Have you discovered a unique accessible holiday cottage recently? I’d love to know about it, leave a comment below.