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A Christmas day out with Emma 

I've always been a big fan of Christmas. This year not so much. However, to get us into the spirit of things, we set out at the weekend to pick our own Christmas tree and enjoy some of the festivities at The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle.

I was told about this place by a friend and for the past four years, we have tried to visit. Each year something happened out with our control causing us to abandon our plans. We were determined to make it this year. 

All four of us loaded up in my Ford Tourneo Connect WAV and drove 45 mins to Aberfoyle. It was a nice drive with lots of winding country road with beautiful views across Stirlingshire. The snow-covered hills added to the stunning scenery.

Once we arrived at The Lodge we quickly found a disabled parking bay close to the visitor centre entrance. My nephew hopped up on my lap and we made our way up a ramp and into the warmth of the visitor centre.

I had read on their website that a Festive Forest Quiz Trail and Christmas market with gifts and food stalls would be taking place this weekend. We collected the Quiz from the reception desk and headed back outside to explore the forest surrounding the visitor centre.

I wasn’t sure how wheelchair accessible it was going to be, but I was pleasantly surprised. The entire quiz trail was accessible with a mixture of tarmacked paths, wooden walkways and hard compacted ground. 

This meant I didn’t have to miss out any parts of the quiz. My nephew loved exploring the woodland and hunting for the answers to the questions. It included everything from reindeer, fairies, chestnuts and wildlife animals. 

The highlight was discovering the beautiful waterfall in the middle of the forest. I’ve never been able to get close to a waterfall before because they have never been accessible to me. However, this waterfall was amazing. I was able to drive my wheelchair close to the river edge and watch as the water came rushing down. It was a great experience.

With the quiz complete, we made our way back to the visitor centre. My nephew collected his prize for completing the quiz and to warm up we decided to pop into the cafe for hot drinks and a snack.

We enjoyed the forest views from the cafe while we thawed out a little. There was also a good-sized accessible toilet too.

It was then time to pick our Christmas tree. I liked that all the Christmas trees were displayed neatly in different sections. I was able to drive my wheelchair between each section without any problems. The friendly staff were excellent. They immediately came over to offer assistance and helped by picking out and holding different types of trees for me to look at.

We finally picked out a beautiful Norway spruce. Even though we tried to pick a fairly small tree, in the end, we couldn’t resist and went for one that was quite tall and wide. We weren’t sure if it was going to fit in the car with the four of us. Thankfully, it did and there was plenty of room to spare. Our tree now looks amazing in our living room.

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