As I’m sure you all already know, I love Shetland and think it is a wonderful place, both to live and to visit. I recommend that everyone comes here at some point in their lives, In Shetland, there is something for everyone and I don’t think it should be missed, regardless of your ability.
I recently encountered someone planning a trip to Shetland who is in a wheelchair, and I thought it might be worth touching on a couple of points about getting here if you do have a disability. While I appreciate that not everything will be accessible, there is still plenty to see and do.
First off, travelling to Shetland. If you choose to fly to Shetland, when you have made your booking, call Loganair and explain your situation. They will arrange extra assistance for getting through whichever Scottish airport you are flying from and arrange an Ambulift to get you into the plane. The same will be done on your return journey from Sumburgh airport.
If you are taking the ferry, Northlink Ferries have 4 accessible cabins for guests with disabilities. One of these rooms includes a hoist should that be required. If you are taking your car onboard the ferry, be sure to mention to Northlink Ferries that you will need access to the lift from the car deck and they will be able to allocate you a parking spot close to the lift. They can also arrange for extra assistance in the ferry terminals both in Aberdeen and Lerwick.
There are a couple of self-catering options that are fully accessible. One of these is Self Catering Shetland, who have 5 properties which are suitable for wheelchair users. They can access hoists and additional equipment from the Independent Living Centre in Lerwick to cater for your needs.
The Shetland Hotel has one room that can accommodate guests in a wheelchair and there are a few other properties around Shetland that also has accessible accommodation. For more information about accommodation, see Visit Scotland’s website www.visitscotland.com. There is a search facility with filters to make it easier to find suitable accommodation.
If you are using public transport while you are here, all service buses are low floor with designated areas for wheelchairs.
Both Sinclair’s Taxis and Allied Taxis have wheelchair accessible vehicles that can be used for taking you from A to B. I advise booking in advance and making sure you mention the type of vehicle required at the time of booking.
If you are travelling with your own vehicle, there are designated disabled parking spots at most visitor attractions, public car parks, hotels and supermarkets.
Things to See and Do
Many of our visitor attractions are accessible for wheelchair users and have disabled parking bays at their venues. Some venues are only partially accessible due to their nature (for example Shetland Textile Museum – access only to the ground floor) and some can’t accommodate wheelchairs at all (Crofthouse Museum). Visiting their websites or calling ahead will make sure that you aren’t disappointed when you arrive there.
All of Island Vista’s tours can be adapted to accommodate wheelchair users and transport in a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be arranged. It’s even possible to do some of the Lerwick walking route by wheelchair.
There are some areas of rougher ground that is harder to reach with a standard wheelchair, but Ability Shetland have all terrain wheelchairs, which can be borrowed to allow you to visit some of our fantastic beaches and coastline. Ability Shetland don’t charge for this but as a charity, any donations are gratefully received.
This has just been a quick introduction into accessing Shetland by wheelchair and by no means a comprehensive guide. I just don’t want people thinking that there are barriers to them visiting.
We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful islands soon.