Here at Accomable, we know you love browsing our listings to find the accessible holiday destination that’s right for you. We also know that when it comes to choosing the perfect accessible property, the devil really is in the detail - so we’re bringing you more of it.
Meet The Vendors is a series of interviews designed to take you behind closed (fully accessible) doors and give a more in-depth look at some of the properties we feature. For the first instalment in this behind-the-scenes series, our guest blogger Rob from the Bimblers, talks to Gillie, owner of the stunning Calf Shed in Wiltshire (UK).
Hello, who are you and tell us about your property?
My name is Gillie Strang, my husband Richard and I run an organic farm in Wiltshire. After running two successful holiday cottages for 15 years we decided to convert a derelict calf shed into a modern fully-accessible studio in 2015.
The Calf Shed has one bedroom, but it can sleep up to 5 due to two very comfy sofa beds.
What’s the story behind your property?
In 2015, once our three girls had fled the nest, we decided to focus some energy into renovating some of the many old barns on the farm. We were in the process of applying for planning permission when a family member suffered a spinal injury.
After many visits to Salisbury Hospital’s spinal ward, we learnt that many struggled to move back home due to accessibility issues. Therefore, we were inspired to turn one of our barns into a completely accessible holiday let.
Our aim was to make our property highly accessible whilst maintaining a high standard of style.
How have you adapted The Calf Shed to enable people with disabilities to stay?
Our property was purposely designed for people with disabilities. We worked in association with patients from the spinal ward to create a space which was not just accessible but also beautiful.
These adaptations included adding additional spaces underneath kitchen surfaces to allow wheelchair access, easy-to-use kitchen appliances, wide doorframes, a designer wet room with lots of stylish adaptations and little touches such as large print and braille playing cards available for use. You can see the full description on our listing: the Calf Shed.
Why did you think it was important to have adaptations?
We aimed to provide guests with a high degree of independence and comfort. We felt it very important to achieve this while creating a luxurious space that can be enjoyed by all.
Have you ever had anyone famous stay?
We have never had anyone particular famous, however our first guest is very inspirational.
Jack Fishwick, is a young local man who suffered a serious rugby accident. He was left with very little feeling or function from the shoulders downwards and has blogged about his recovery. There is also a rugby fundraising event, which is held annually at Wimbledon RFC to help fund his rehabilitation.
What is your favourite thing to do in the local area?
The local area is famous for its beautiful countryside, my favourite thing to do is have a long lunch in one of the many country pubs and go for a stroll afterwards.
Are there any exciting activities in the area that are adapted for people with disabilities?
We are an area of outstanding natural beauty, the countryside, towns and villages can all be enjoyed by disabled visitors. And we’re within an easy drive of a number of great attractions with excellent facilities.
The beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens (15-minute drive) is fully accessible to disabled visitors using the gravel paths, and the Coffee Grove Café garden has an accessible toilet.
Longleat Safari is also fully accessible (45-minute drive), disabled visitors can enjoy the drive-through safari, and wheelchairs are welcome on the Jungle train and boat. The Elizabethan house is equipped with a lift. Furthermore, Longleat offers concessionary rates for disabled badge holders and their carers.
Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta (20-minute drive) have disabled parking, ramp access, disabled washrooms and audio recordings for the visually impaired.
Wilton House (10-minute drive) welcomes disabled visitors with dedicated parking, dropping off areas and wheelchairs are available to loan during your visit.
Have you got any tips for travellers staying with you?
A vehicle is necessary due to the area being rural, you’ll get more out of your stay if you have a vehicle. Or if a complete break and relaxation is what you’re after then don’t bring a vehicle and enjoy the luxurious surrounding of the Calf Shed! The Calf Shed is very well equipped, however, if specialist equipment is needed we can hire it in, you just need to ask.
What sort of a traveller are you, where do you like to go and what sorts of things do you like to do on holiday?
We not a ‘drop and flop’ kind of family, so all of our holidays are either active or cultural.
My husband and daughters particularly enjoy sailing, so anything by the seaside is great. We also often visit Italy, I spent a lot of time there in my 20s working as a chef.
Wow, what a great insight and what a pleasure to meet Gillie. I’m sure you’ll agree, Gillie and Richard are dedicated to accessibility, and know how to make their guests feel welcome and comfortable during their stay. If you’d like to book a stay at the Calf Shed you can do so here.