Dales cottage for disabled one of three top tourist attractions in England

The Dairy, one of the top three businesses in England for disabled visitors.

By Betsy Everett

In another major coup for the region’s tourist trade, Diane and Andrew Howarth’s Cottage in the Dales at Newbiggin in Bishopdale has been named one of the top three businesses in England catering for people with disabilities.

The other two finalists in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence inclusive tourism category, which last year was won by the world-renowned Eden Project, are the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms in Bath and the Mylor Sailing and Powerboat School in Falmouth, Cornwall.

Last year the Howarths’ cottage The Byre won self-catering property of the year which meant this year they were not eligible to enter that category.
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“It is a big thing to get to the finals two years running but to do it in two totally different categories is incredible. To say we are on cloud nine is an understatement. Even if we don’t win, to be included in the top three of all kinds of business is a huge achievement for us,” says Diane who opened The Dairy in the grounds of their Eastburn Farmhouse home last August.

It was the first accommodation in the Yorkshire Dales national park to meet the highest standard for accessibility for guests with mobility, hearing and visual needs.

Their slogan, “accessible luxury,” exactly matches their ethos: they want their disabled guests to enjoy the same level of excellence as those with no special needs.

“Most able-bodied people have an incredibly negative perception of disabled accommodation, and that’s endemic throughout the industry. You go to a hotel, for example, and so often the receptionist will apologise for “only” having a disabled access room available.

“The perception is of a clinical feel, with bars and red emergency buttons and pulls. Cottage in the Dales is about luxury accommodation, treating yourself, making you feel special. We want there to be no distinction in what we offer our less abled guests. We pride ourselves on offering five-start luxury to everyone. And really, with a few simple adjustments, it’s not as difficult as it sounds,” says Diane.

The couple designed The Dairy themselves: with under-sink cupboards that can be quickly removed for wheelchair access, special floor markings which are an integral part of the design but help visually impaired people: flashing fire alarms for those who are hard of hearing and a host of other aids, including a catalogue of “extras” which are stored in the lofts.

They have produced a brochure showing two full pages of integrated facilities at The Dairy and portable, accessible equipment – from wake-and-shake alarm clocks to zimmer frames, bed rails, doorstep ramps and foldaway wheelchairs – for use at both their cottages.

“We want to spread the word to other accommodation providers that there are many things they can do quite simply and cheaply to help people with disabilities, without having to completely rebuild their stone Dales cottage. It requires research, thought and thinking outside the box,” says Diane.

The finals of the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence will be held at the Bath Assembly Rooms on Monday, April 23.

Diane and Andrew Howarth with guests Steve and Marian Uzell

1 Comment

  1. It’s great to see that somewhere is catering to all of society with disabled access. I rent my home out on Air BnB, and as I am myself disabled, I ensure that others know that my place has all access everyone needs. I got my bath from Gainsborough baths, and it’s the best accessible bath around. Check them out here and get one for your own home: http://www.gainsboroughbaths.com/ I also have a stair lift, and ramps to get into my property. Let’s make this a topic of conversation so that we are able to experience more around the country!

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