This section is about some disabled angling facilities available around the country. It is of particular interest to the webmaster of this site as he has been left partially disabled due to suffering a stroke some years ago and more recently suffering a heart attack followed by heart surgery.
There are lots of forums on the internet about fishing in general but there doesn't appear to be many websites dedicated to disabled angling. This is a shame as there must be 1000's of anglers left disabled through one thing or another. Fishing is a passion once gained rarely lost, even returned to after a 20 or 30 year gap. I returned to it after a lay-off of around 20 years, never lost the passion just the time to indulge myself. Always too busy with work and family commitments and then as the kids grow up and fly the nest plus of course having to give up work after the stroke, it gives back the time to do with as I will....Yippee!
Access is a problem for most who are disabled, what was probably very easy access before might as well now be a trip up Mount Everest as far as getting fishing is concerned. A lot of clubs do run a disabled section and if they don't then they will often help in a lot of ways to help keep a fellow angler fishing. That's one thing about fishing, it does bring together all sections of society and is a great social leveller.
Piers and jetties are obviously the marks to look for but also car parks and promenades these are normally the easiest to access. Around the Whitby area, Saltburn pier, Whitby pier and Sandsend car park immediately spring to mind. Both piers have easy access, Saltburn pier really needs to be fished over high water, the same as Sandsend car park. At Saltburn there are disabled toilet facilities practically opposite the pier and in the summer months you can get food and drinks also at the entrance to the pier. There is a 'chippie' which I am told has very good fish and chips at the end of the carpark as you go towards the pier. The pier has a couple of 'bays' up the length of the pier on each side which have long bench type seats if you need them.
Car park to entrance of the pier is about 100 yards.
You can fish out of the back of your car at Sandsend but mind if it is fairly rough then the sea has a nasty habit of sending the odd wave over the wall just to give you a hose down! I do believe there are toilet facilities and a cafe within the car park itself or there used to be. Normally between October to about March there is no parking charge but just check any signs to make sure - some car parks do have disabled parking bays BUT you still have to pay. Whitby pier can be fished at most stages of the tide as you can fish into the river side of the pier for a variety of flat fish and eels, plus maybe the odd surprise pollack.
At Redcar you can fish opposite the 'Royal Hotel', on the slipway over high water for the likes of Bass and flatties in the warmer months and then the occasional Flounder and Cod, maybe an odd Whiting as well in the winter months. Parking is available on the promenade about 5 metres from your fishing position! A fisherman's cafe, which all the boat owners used to use in times gone by, there' aren't too many of them left anymore, just a few short yards up the road in the Marske direction. Plus there is a tackle shop just round the corner on the high street, (Redcar Angling) a well stocked and friendly shop run by John and Denise who also supply a variety of fresh and frozen bait.
I also fish Deal Pier in Kent which has easy access and has a cafe and disabled toilets on the end. The cafe was renovated only a couple of years ago. As far as disabled angling goes, this is a great place to visit. It also has shelters on either side of the pier so whatever the weather you can normally keep dry and warm and out of any strong side winds.
I know most coastal towns have been around for centuries but it would be nice if the councils gave more thought to disabled facilities, especially toilets.
Quite a lot of places seem to have toilet facilities placed as an after thought which is surprising in this day and age. Some places it can be a day out just trying to find some. Deal Pier as an example, has the cafe on the end, great if you're fishing all day and want a bit of hot food and a cuppa, plus they also have purposed built disabled toilets as part of the structure which are open even when the cafe is shut or so I have always found. Well done to the council for a bit of considerate thinking. It can be a nightmare if you aren't too mobile and need to find facilities fast!
A very good place that I have only just found out about is a place called Samphire Hoe, it's sign posted as you leave Dover heading towards Folkstone on the A20. It is directly under the white cliffs, it is purpose built from the 'spoil' dug out for the Channel Tunnel. It is landscaped, with a parking area and is accessible for wheelchair users. The recommended route follows the front path, from the front path signposted 'west shore via the Hoe'. With over a mile of sea wall there is always plenty of room for sea angling. Day and season tickets are available from the tea kiosk. This is my first port of call the next time I go fishing in that area, so this page will be updated once I have sussed it out. Looking on Google Earth it looks an ideal location.
As an update, as I promised, I did have a flying visit to Samphire Hoe the last time I was down there in March. Does look a great place with very easy access to the sea wall down a pathway, (no steps). I use a trolley to cart my gear about where possible so this is a great place to use it. I visited just before they were due to close at dusk, as you can see in the picture below and I also took one of a pair of anglers packing away. You can see in the first picture that the sea wall is about a mile long!
If you are reading this then you obviously have internet access so the best thing to do is to reasearch any venue before setting out to see if it is suitable for you.
A very good website dedicated to disabled angling is Reels On Wheels. They are mainly a fresh water fishing site with the occasional sea fishing trip arranged but they run competitions and meets throughout the year and have a 2 day 'festival' in June of this year. Well worth checking out.
They are a Charitable Organisation that was set up to provide funds for various reasons and supports the 'buddy system' concept. One of their ultimate aims would be to have their own purpose built lake/lakes which would see all swims with platforms suitable for wheelchairs with a small cafe/tackle shop/toilets, family workshop for the carers, wives and kids, a junior club to encourage the younger generation to take up the sport and combine that with them assisting less able/disabled anglers.
Although they are mainly a fresh water website as already stated and this website is about sea fishing we are glad to be able to show our support to Nick and his team for the sterling work they do in getting disabled anglers back into fishing and also for promoting and introducing angling as a sport to those who have maybe never tried it - YET!
Another great organisation is Solent Dolphin, with a Board of Directors and a Management Committee. It all came to fruition in 1987 due to members of the New Forest Rotary Club for the purpose of taking people with disabilities out to sea on day trips. Because of the forward thinking of those early members the first boat was launched in 1989.
They now run FREE trips for the disabled aboard the Catamaran 'Alison MacGregor' from the 1st of May until the 30th of September out of their home port which is Hythe Marina in Hampshire.
The British Disabled Angling Association has plenty of information on it's own website about facilities, clubs, meets, competitions and much more available to disabled anglers. They have a Newsletter you can sign up for to keep you informed about future events and the likes.
They also have Junior and Adult coaching events. A website well worth taking a look at.