By Betsy Everett
A couple whose luxury holiday cottage has received the highest possible rating for disabled access have “set the standard for others” says tourism chief Sir Gary Verity.
The Dairy at Cottage in the Dales in Newbiggin, Bishopdale, which is the realisation of a five-year dream for owners Diane and Andrew Howarth, meets every one of VisitEngland’s rigorous demands for people with mobility, sight or hearing problems.
Said Sir Gary, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire: “This new accommodation is fantastic. A great combination of accessibility, quality and style. The Howarths are setting the standard for others by providing a personalised service for guests of all abilities, and making it even easier for people to visit our beautiful county.”
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The stone-built property, extended, refashioned and furnished by entirely local tradespeople, is set in an acre of wheelchair-accessible gardens on the south side of the tiny ribbon hamlet where the Howarths came to live in 2010.
It sits alongside The Byre, named by Visit England earlier this year as the best self-catering holiday property in the country, which adjoins Eastburn Farmhouse, the Howarths’ home.
Now, partially rebuilt and completely restyled, The Dairy is adapted for use by people with a range of disabilities, with under-sink and under-hob cupboards that can pull out to accommodate a wheelchair, or be put back in place when able-bodied guests arrive. Likewise the support bars in the shower room and toilet.
“If guests need the accessibility features they are there, but if they don’t then the vast majority of them simply disappear. Many able-bodied people don’t like to stay in rooms with support bars and so on. Here, they can easily be removed. Everyone’s needs are different,” says Diane, who, with Andrew, has done much of the design work herself.
First guests at the cottage were Steve and Marian Uzzell of Chelmsford in Essex, invited to “test drive” the property before the official opening.
Steve, 58, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 27 years ago and he and Marian, 59, have difficulty finding accommodation that truly caters to his needs: he is mostly wheelchair-bound.
“We’ve tried to be critical and find something that doesn’t work – we’ve had plenty of experience of that in other places. I can honestly say the Howarths have thought of everything,” said Steve.
- The Dairy has been assessed by the AA – Visit England quality assessment agency to be 5-star gold and providing accessibility support for mobility(M3), hearing (H1) and visual (V1). It is the first accommodation of any kind in the Yorkshire Dales to provide accessibility to National Accessibility Scheme standards for guests with mobility, hearing or visual requirements. Full details can be found at www.cottageinthedales.co.uk/holiday-cottages/39/Accessibility