Updated Review on Specatular Annual Light Show
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Powerchair
Following on from my review last year the organisers of The Enchanted Forest spent £6,000 to improve the accessibility. I was delighted to be invited back again this year to do an updated my review on their annual light show that has now been running for 17 years. This year’s show is running for an extended five weeks and is titled Of The Wild, showcasing the wild and wonderful autumnal beauty of Highland Perthshire.
Transport & Parking
There are 10 disabled parking spaces in the Faskally Wood area where The Enchanted Forest is hosted however, you have to phone the box office to reserve a space when you book your tickets. Due to high demand, availability of a disabled space is sometimes hard to get, once these spaces are gone they are gone. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other disabled or non-disabled spaces nearby as Faskally Wood is 1.6 miles from Pitlochary. There is however a bus that takes guests to the Enchanted Forest from the Fishers Hotel if you have enough mobility to get on to the bus, this is available to all guests with their Enchanted Forest ticket. There is a voice of The Enchanted Forest story that you listen to whilst on the bus, which isn't available to visitors parking on site. I would maybe suggest finding another way to allow those visitors to listen to it too. Within Pitlochary there is some on street parking and council parking available in short walking distance from where the bus would pick you up from the Fishers Hotel. If you can’t get on to the bus for the Enchanted Forest and no disabled parking spaces are available then you could possibly get a taxi to Faskally Wood by parking in Pitlochary, but I’m not sure how good the taxi services are. Alternatively, you can get to Pitlochary by bus or train, check your local bus and train station for more information.
Due to The Enchanted Forest taking place within a nature walk you’d expect the pathways to be a little uneven and tree roots I’d have to drive over, but mostly all the pathways were resurfaced. Last year I needed support on my chest to get off the bridge at The Enchanted Forest s it was a couple of inches higher than the pathway. This year though I was really surprised that the pathway had been raised and there was now no bump to get on and off the bridge. I felt this year that the slope leading up to where the main food area is and the toilets, was a little bit more uneven this year. I couldn’t really see very in the dark and felt like I was falling to the side a little, but with help from the people I was with I managed to get up and down safely. I also understand that the ground does get worse over time, especially in a woodland area, however if it is able to be resurfaced I would definitely recommend the organisers look into it. Some areas last year had bark laid down which never works well with the wheels of my powerchair, however this year was a little different. The storytelling hut had an accessible entrance around the back that the bark had been cleared away from, meaning you could enter without getting stuck. There were volunteers to tell us about this different entrance, however I would suggest a sign to point visitors in that direction just incase a volunteer is busy with other visitors when people pass the hut. I didn’t go into the storytelling hut, so I can’t comment on the accessibility inside, but from the outside I did notice a threshold at the door which my powerchair and other wheelchairs could struggle with. There was a really nice fire pit this year that I wanted to get a photo of, but it was in a barked area. I tried it as my friend said it felt like a thin layer, however I got stuck and had to ask other visitors to help pull my powerchair out. Maybe putting mats down over the bark would help if you’re not able to uplift the bark. There was an interactive light area which also had bark on the ground, I didn’t know there was a tarmacked path at the other side of the trees. The volunteer didn’t know this either and again there was no sign, however the pathway stopped before you got near the interactive lights. This meant I still had to go on to the barked area to get to the lights, which again I got stuck on. Mats on top of the bark would be great here too. The viewing platform was great for wheelchairs as there was a lower down bar section so visitors sitting would be able to see. There was an interactive area where visitors were able to place their hand on a piece of wood and you heard a fact relating to the light show theme, however this wasn’t at a good height for wheelchairs, it’s good for children though. Where you roasted your marshmallows this year on the fire, I felt it wasn’t very welcoming or spacious for wheelchairs. It had a fence around it, which is maybe for health and safety, but a wheelchair may struggle to get around.
There is an accessible toilet beside the disabled parking spaces which is very spacious however, it is only a standard accessible toilet. I commented last year that there is no Changing Places toilet on site or anywhere in Pitlochary, and the organisers took that on board. This year they have hired a Mobiloo Changing Place, which is basically a van that a Changing Place toilet in it. This is a great feature to have because it makes everyone feel more included. The only problem I would say though is that it is quite hidden. Even though I was told where it was when I arrived, it maybe would have been good to have a few signposts. There are portacabin disabled toilets on site, however even though I am unable to use these I tried to fit in and if you could transfer yourself there may be enough room. But if you need someone to help you then there would not be enough room.
All the staff and volunteers that I encountered during my visit were very friendly and knew about the accessibility of the trail. There was just one time that a volunteer didn’t tell us about an alternative pathway up to some of the lights instead of the bark, but we found it. I would say one thing that did annoy me was the volunteers kept asking me if I needed to use the Changing Places toilet. I understand that they were probably asked to make people aware of this great feature however, I felt it wasn’t very discreet.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
Like I said last year, I would definitely recommend visiting The Enchanted Forest. Even though it says on their website it isn’t accessible for electric wheelchairs I would say it is, especially with their improvements. I would say all wheelchairs and individual requirements are different, but I think even then it’s suitable for mostly everyone. Faskally Woods is open to the public throughout the day all year round so if you are a little unsure, you could visit during the day to find out before you book. The only last problem I would say is The Enchanted Forest do not offer a free carer ticket. Now I am delighted and thankful to be invited by the organisers to their press night in exchange for a review with my carer, but I have looked into paying to go. I am always put off though because it means I would have to pay double the price, just for me to go.