We came here after visiting Hampton Court Castle which has a lovely accessible walled garden but whose woodland trails required a bigger scooter than mine.
We picnicked in the car park surrounded by trees (parking is free with a Blue Badge) then moved to the main car park which has some designated Blue Badge spaces and set off into the woods with a basic map provided by the visitor centre. The trails are way-marked, including the route to the viewing point!
The paths were earth and occasionally a little muddy in places (as it had chucked it down the previous night, it was actually remarkably dry!) and generally bump-free. We made our way to the viewing point for yet another wonderful view of the Herefordshire countryside.
As it is an arboretum, many of the trees were labelled but we managed to identify a giant redwood even before reading the sign!
The visitor centre has locally made honey and preserves and some lovely cards and gifts and friendly staff. Accessible loo a little small but enough room for my scooter! Plenty of parking, including some Blue Badge spaces although it could possibly do with some more and I’m not surprised – it was a great place to visit not only for scooter-users: there were plenty of people with pushchairs as well. You can borrow an electric scooter for a suggested £5 donation if you book it in advance.
I thoroughly recommend this place if you fancy some fresh air, trees and a lovely view!
Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire is actually the original Hampton Court! It predates the more famous palace by a hundred years or so. Most of its life it belonged to a local Herefordshire family but in the 19th century was bought by Richard Arkwright, son of the famous inventor.
We went because I had investigated online and found that it was largely accessible. We then discovered that it has what I think must be the best walled garden I have ever seen – absolutely wonderful!
Apart from lovely old brick walls, it has hedges dividing it up into lots of different ‘rooms’ – you just want to keep discovering what is around the next corner. There are water features and statuary and also lots of flowers and fruit and vegetables.
The surfaces are either flags, fine gravel, bark chips or grass and my scooter coped fine even on the wide expanse of lawns beyond the walled garden and despite the fact that it had poured with rain during the previous night.
We didn’t attempt to visit the castle itself – you can visit the ground floor and they have photos of the upstairs floors to look at if you can’t get there as there is no lift. We also didn’t attempt the woodland walks as that would have required a larger, all-terrain type scooter but as it turned out, Queenswood Arboretum down the road has perfectly accessible woodland walks so the two complement each other quite nicely!
We had set off bright and early so by the time we looked round everything we could it was still a bit early to sample the cafe besides we had brought a picnic with us. The cafe is accessible and did look very attractive and has lots of outdoor seating on the lawn and we could happily have had our picnic if it had been a bit later – perhaps we’ll just have to come back some time!
There is an accessible loo by the café – it has a steep little ramp to get in and it was a little tight backing out but otherwise fine. There is disabled access information on the website. The parking is simply in a field and getting from there onto the level pass might be a little tricky depending on your wheels but if you can access this place then I really recommend it. You could even combine it with a visit to Queenswood, like we did!
During our recent stay near Ross-on-Wye, we visited several places with amazing views, one of which was Yat Rock. At Symonds Yat both East and West there are various amusements such as boat rides, kayaking and cycling. We had headed for Symonds Yat East, where there is a car park by the river but it was a view from the top that we were after.
Then we saw the signs for Yat Rock and headed up a steep, winding road with passing places. It got rather congested at times as there were plenty of visitors but once we were at the top there was plenty of parking including designated Blue Badge spaces. A noticeboard informed us that it was 400 metres to the top with plenty of benches on the way and we could see that it was a good path.
There is actually more Blue Badge parking further up, but we were glad we had started further down as it was a very pleasant route through woods. Some of the benches looked like they were more places to perch on rather than sit – anyone expecting something more comfortable beware!
Some of the route is a boardwalk and a small part, near the shop and refreshment placed near the very top is just earth or grit but the whole thing was perfectly easy. A little bit steep right at the viewing place perhaps but a tarmac path at that point and perfectly safe. The accessible shop sells drinks and snacks and photos you can send as postcards.
The views are amazing: the River Wye snaking off into the distance and gorgeous rolling green fields all around. The wall is low enough to see over and there are places with a grille instead of the wall for even better but safe viewing.
There are toilets including accessible ones by the lower car park, which is pay and display.
I definitely recommend Yat Rock as somewhere to visit if you’re in the area.
Valley View is a lovely cottage for two: comfortable, spotlessly clean and well-equipped plus it has amazing views. It also makes a really good base for exploring the area and there are plenty of accessible things to do.
The cottage comprises a sitting room, kitchen-diner, bedroom and ensuite bathroom, all of which have plenty of space to get around easily in a wheelchair and the access is really easy, just a slight ramp to get you over the threshold with hardly a bump. The table is high enough that you can sit at it in a wheelchair. Thatch Close Cottages comprises three cottages in total, all of which can be linked in different combinations for larger groups.
There are various high-tech features such as the kitchen worktop with hob and sink will rise and lower at the touch of a button as will the bathroom wash basin and the dressing table. Despite this, the overall feel is of a cosy cottage and the decor is charming.
The spacious bathroom has a shower seat, lots of grabrails and even a wash-dry loo.
I was really impressed that the website included a list of everything that was included as so often you are not sure quite what to bring. In the event, one or two of these were actually missing but it was just a case of mentioning it to Ed, one of the owners and they were provided straightaway. Ed and Marion are obviously really keen that people enjoy their visit and will lend equipment such as a shower wheelchair or toilet seat raiser (which some places charge for) and they even have a talking microwave and other kitchen equipment for the visually impaired. In fact, when Ed asked if there was anything that would improve the place and I mentioned that the sofa was a bit low, he promptly fetched some feet to go underneath it which raised it up – perfect! The household equipment generally is very good quality – although I’m not sure any two of the glasses matched each other! – however, we have been in some cottages where the kitchen equipment is a bit worn. Here everything was in really good condition and there was all you could need for meal preparation.
The cottage complies with very high levels of accessibility on the National Accessibility Scheme and has been inspected by the Fire Brigade. It has various safety features such as an emergency pull cord in the bathroom and emergency lighting in case of power failure. There are further details and a full accessibility statement on the cottage website.
The emergency lights do unfortunately mean that there is some light at night which might disturb some people and the patio could do with some TLC but otherwise the cottage is fabulous and even includes a generous welcome basket including breakfast ingredients, a bottle of wine, home-made cake and marmalade. The cottage can be linked to the ones next door for larger groups. You could hear some noise from through the wall, but not too bad.
There are plenty of accessible things to do in the area, such as Symonds Yat – we parked up at Yat Rock and had no problem accessing the lookout point with my scooter – there are also plenty of benches on the way. We also visited the original Hampton Court which has the most amazing walled garden which was fully accessible and my scooter coped fine with the lawned area. Entrance was free for a carer so we only had to pay one entry fee! The woodland trails would have been too much for my scooter though but very nearby is Queenswood Country Park and Arboretum with very attractive woodland and the paths lead to a viewing point with amazing views over the countryside. It is free and even the parking is free for a Blue Badge holder.
Another day we visited Ross on Wye where if you park up by St Mary’s church you can go through the churchyard to a park called The Prospect with, you’ve guessed it, amazing views! We later parked down near the river and there is a riverside path which is easily scootable too and very attractive. The tourist office sent us some leaflets about the area, including a ‘buggy route’ around the town – we didn’t follow all of it, but it’s good to know that they are thinking about accessibility.
This is a gorgeous part of the country and Valley View is a great place to stay with plenty of accessible places to visit within easy reach.