Beach wheelchair schemes aim to improve access to north Northumberland coast
A beach wheelchair charity is hoping to make its first foray into north Northumberland.
Beach Access North East (BANE) has plans to expand its current service to include Bamburgh and Beadnell.
There are accessibility issues at Bamburgh but the parish council is increasingly confident these can be overcome.
The charity recently made a site visit with a Hippocampe all-terrain wheelchair to assess the best possible route through the dunes.
“We tried a variety of routes, from the first car park along The Wynding, from the Pavilion and from The Links car park,” explained Cllr Kirsty Dobson.
"We felt the Pavilion access was the best. The first car park is also a possibility but there could be issues at high tide, while The Links was deemed too far to get to the beach in a heavy chair.
"All in all, it was deemed a project we could do.”
The parish council has agreed to fund a storage shed near the cricket club containers and will seek volunteers to run the project when the time is right.
The charity would supply an adult chair and a child’s chair but the parish council is keen to explore other fund-raising opportunities.
“We could maybe apply to be the castle’s charity of the year,” said Cllr Dobson. "Ultimately, the parish council might want to buy its own chair.”
Chairman Barbara Brook said: “It’s a positive first step forward.”
Cllr Andrew Bardgett said: “I must admit I was quite sceptical but if they think there’s a feasible solution then it’s worthwhile pushing for it.”
The charity has been providing beach wheelchairs in Newbiggin, Blyth and Whitley Bay since 2017.
It also now has a facility at South Shields and is hoping to expand to Tynemouth, Sunderland and Hartlepool.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “BANE is determined to make our beautiful Northumberland shores accessible for all.
"Lockdown has brought social isolation to many, particularly people living alone or those who have been shielding.
"Alongside many other charity organisations BANE will strive to contribute to the mental wellbeing of disabled people and their families in the coming months, providing the free service to access the beach.”
Find out more at www.beachaccessnortheast.org