Late Spring in Rowntree Park

Ducklings, Rowntree Park
Ducklings, Rowntree Park

We had hoped there would be ducklings in Rowntree Park and there were! Quite big really, and we also spotted a coot on its nest, sheltering several tiny young ones (cootlets?).

Coot's nest, Rowntree Park
Coot’s nest, Rowntree Park

We came along the riverside path to the main gates from the direction of the Millennium Bridge having parked at the bottom of Butcher Terrace and all the trees, shrubs and cow-parsley are lush and beautiful.Heading to Rowntree Park from the Millennium Bridge

The flower borders in the park look a little less wild and neglected than sometimes and have plenty of colour and interest – lupins, geraniums, peonies, euphorbia and much more.

Flower borders, Rowntree Park
Flower borders, Rowntree Park

All the grassy areas are positively rank with daisies – thanks to all the goose poo fertiliser, I presume – beautiful or a bit much? Not sure.

There’s an attractive art installation of lots of tiny yellow birds on one side of the bridge and an uneven bit of the lake path has been repaved – hurrah!

Rowntree Park
Rowntree Park

As it was half-term, the kids’ play equipment, skate-park and café were all being well-used and as the sun was out, everything looked gorgeous. We even got a wave from pleasure boat passengers on the river!

River bank, York
River bank, York

Last time we came for a visit the park was flooded so instead we went to the Homestead, but both parks are lovely, accessible and well worth a visit.

 

Always something of interest at The Homestead!

Plenty of daffodils are already out at The Homestead

I thought I was going to be blogging about Rowntree Park but when we got there (as we half expected) it was closed because the river is in flood. (The rest of the city is fine, just a couple of riverside paths are under water!)

Instead, we tracked across town to The Homestead and discovered that, whatever the time of year, there is always something interesting to see there.

Spring flowers at The Homestead
Spring flowers at The Homestead

They are replacing the old flowering cherry trees in the Cherry Walk (and in fact seem to have planted lots of new trees all round the park) so that particular part was fenced off, but you could get round to see all the rest of the park by just taking a different route. There are plenty of daffodils out as well as camellias, hyacinths, primulas, scillas, hellebores and lots of ornamental bushes with interesting foliage.

Gearing up for Spring at The Homestead
Gearing up for Spring at The Homestead

When we last visited they were creating a space with some seating next to the mediaeval garden. This is now finished and has an attractive water feature.

Medieval Garden at The Homestead
Medieval Garden at The Homestead

The park also has a children’s play area and pop-up café, although these was shut on the day we visited probably because the heavy rain had made everywhere so muddy. There is also a rock garden, pond and plenty of benches and also toilets including an accessible one which no longer seems to need a RADAR key.

Hellebores at The Homestead
Hellebores at The Homestead

The car park has several marked Blue Badge bays and although there is some rather bumpy concrete to get over to reach the path, and some of the paved paths are a little rough, most of them are tarmac.

Plenty of daffodils are already out at The Homestead
Plenty of daffodils are already out at The Homestead

It’s good to know that The Homestead can be enjoyed at any time of year and as the weather improves and the tree-planting is finished, it can only get even more beautiful!

See my review from last year.

Formal beds, The Homestead
Last year’s formal beds, The Homestead

The original Hampton Court!

The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

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.IMG_1230

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!

The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire
The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

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 walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire
The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

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.

The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire
The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

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!

The lawns, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire
The lawns, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

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!

The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire
The walled garden, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

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!

The courtyard, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire
The courtyard, Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

We visited while we were staying at Valley View, Thatch Close Cottages, Llangrove, an accessible cottage with wonderful views.

 

Yat Rock – fabulous, accessible views!

View from Yat Rock, Hereforshire

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.

The river Wye from from Yat Rock
The river Wye from from Yat Rock

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.

The route to and from Yat Rock - very accessible!
The route to and from Yat Rock – very accessible!

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!

View from Yat Rock, Hereforshire
View from Yat Rock, Hereforshire

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.

Fabulous view from Yat Rock
Fabulous view from Yat Rock

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.

See my review of Valley View, Llangrove, where we stayed.

Venturing across the river!

Near the river at Fulford

For a change, we explored the Fulford side of the Millenium Bridge. The grass is left long to encourage wildflowers, so it had really quite a rural look.

Near the river at Fulford
Near the river at Fulford

The mown paths would be passable on a really sturdy scooter, but we stuck to the tarmac cycle/footpaths.

Cycle paths by the Millennium Bridge
Cycle paths by the Millennium Bridge

I had always thought of the grassy area by the bridge as being Fulford Ings, but according to Google Maps, they are actually further along. The path becomes a bit rough by then, so, having passed the grassy area by way of the cycle/footpath, then Love Lane amongst the trees, we turned around at St Oswald’s church – it’s a private house, complete with gravestones in the garden! The Ings were the site of the Battle of Fulford, precursor to the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

River bank by the Millennium Bridge
River bank by the Millennium Bridge

Everywhere smelled gorgeously woodsy, so it made for a pleasant saunter, then we headed on past the bridge once more and along New Walk.

Towards Blue Bridge from New Walk
Towards Blue Bridge from New Walk

We hadn’t been this way for ages and having once been very familiar with it from living nearby some years ago was an added interest plus there are a few things to look out for, like the railtracks, a relic from the area’s more industrial past and Pikeing Well, once a fresh water fountain – the history of it is on an information plaque nearby.

New Walk
New Walk

There are plenty of benches along both sides of the river and platforms built out into the river so you can get a good view. There is even an ice-cream boat!

Boats on the river
Boats on the river

You could carry on along the bank, over Blue Bridge and into town but we headed back over the Millenium Bridge to good old Rowntree Park and –yes! – there were some ducklings as well as goslings, not to mention plenty of people enjoying the sunshine and the roses!

Rowntree Park
Rowntree Park
Ducklings in Rowntree Park
Ducklings in Rowntree Park

Lush greenery!

Island in the lake, Rowntree Park
Island in the lake, Rowntree Park
Island in the lake, Rowntree Park

The wonderfully accessible Rowntree Park and the nearby riverside are looking lush and green with the trees, hedges, herbaceous plants and cow-parsley all bursting with life!

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Millennium Bridge, York

Carpets of daisies as well – rather too many in fact – must be all the fertiliser they get, courtesy of the geese!

Canada geese, Rowntree Park
Canada geese, Rowntree Park
Goslings and daisies, Rowntree Park
Goslings and daisies, Rowntree Park

No ducklings or moorhen or coot chicks, but some cute goslings.

The arbour, Rowntree Park
The arbour, Rowntree Park

Other York green spaces includes the university campus and Homestead Park.

Formal beds, The Homestead
Formal beds, The Homestead
York University campus
York University campus

Beautiful, accessible flowerbeds!

The Homestead, York

The Homestead Park, York, is a 14 acre park belonging to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in the grounds of what was the home of Joseph’s son Seebohm, which is now the headquarters of the JRF.

The Homestead, York
The Homestead, York

You can enter on foot from Waterend or from Shipton Road, where the carpark is, which includes several Blue Badge spaces. It’s gravelled, so my powerchair would not have coped with it, but we had taken my scooter, so, having parked in the bay nearest the gate, it was just a case of bumping over some concrete before the tarmac began. The paths in the park are largely tarmac with some crazy paving and flat except for a few sloping bits near the pond – easily avoidable if needed and there are a number of benches as you go round.

Formal beds, The Homestead
Formal beds, The Homestead

The whole place is beautifully kept – I expect it’s lovely all year round but this was certainly a good time to visit as there is lots of blossom as well as spring flowers, some in immaculate formal beds with wonderful colour combinations, others in less formal herbaceous beds and perhaps because of the previous day’s rain, there was a lovely woodsy smell.

The Homestead, York
The Homestead, York

There is also a medieval garden, constructed in honour of the 800th anniversary of York being granted a royal charter.

Medieval Garden, The Homestead
Medieval Garden, The Homestead

The pond, surrounded by acers and rhododendrons was a surprise – we must have missed it when we visited once, many years ago.

The pond, The Homestead
The pond, The Homestead

There is lots of play equipment for the under-12s, as well as plenty of grass to run around on, toilets, including accessible ones (they require a RADAR key – I contacted the JRT after our trip to check if this was the case and they said the park staff always have a spare one) and there was also a pop-up reading café in operation the day we went.

Blossom at The Homestead, York
Blossom at The Homestead, York

Noticeboards by each entrance have a plan of the layout of the park and leaflets about the park, the wildlife and the trees which you can also download from their website and there are signposts pointing out where things are. There is information about the park on DisabledGo, but as ever, it’s completely contradictory, including saying that there isn’t level access to the accessible loo! This is why sites with reviews are a much more reliable source of information – I shall submit a review to what is probably the most extensive one, Euan’sGuide, soon!

The Homestead, York
The Homestead, York

I can imagine us going back to The Homestead Park in summer to see how the formal beds have changed – it’s not a long visit (unless you sat in the sun for a while or spent a long time in the reading café!) but it was such a pleasure!

Another lovely York park is of course Rowntree Park with its pond, café, play equipment and ducks!

Canal Gardens in the sunshine!

Canal Gardens, Leeds

I hadn’t visited Canal Gardens for years so when we decided to have a trip to Roundhay Park, we took in the gardens too and they were looking splendid!

Canal Gardens, Leeds
Canal Gardens, Leeds

I took my own scooter this time as last time I found the ones you can borrow too high to get onto! My dad borrowed a park scooter and the instructions are that you head straight out of Canal Gardens – I suppose they consider them too big to manoeuvre in the more confined space – so we headed first for the Monet and Alhambra Gardens. Forgot to take photos, so one from Autumn will have to do!

Alhambra Garden, Roundhay Park
Alhambra Garden, Roundhay Park

These gardens are really accessible and while the Monet Garden looks best in Summer, there is always something of interest – the daffodils were pretty much over but there were hundreds of what I think were scilla under the trees – very pretty!
We then headed for the park ‘proper’ which is always good to see- what a great resource Leeds has in Roundhay Park!

Barran's Fountain, Roundhay Park
Barran’s Fountain, Roundhay Park

My scooter coped fine with the paths but I did notice a slight feeling of strain because the paths all have quite a camber – you are frequently leaning at an angle. I didn’t notice on previous occasions, presumably because of using their large scooters. Never mind, didn’t spoil the visit!

The Mansion, Roundhay Park
The Mansion, Roundhay Park

It was pretty chilly despite the sunshine, so we didn’t make a long visit and it was a good excuse to sample the tearooms in the gardens.

Roundhay Park, Leeds
Roundhay Park, Leeds

Dad returned his scooter but nobody queried mine as we entered the tearooms via the sliding windows on the terrace. It wasn’t busy despite some schools being on holiday and was quite civilised with pleasant staff. The cakes were all pre-packaged but weren’t bad, particularly the ’Yorkshire Rascals’ – presumably a cousin of Fat Rascals?!

Canal Gardens, Leeds
Canal Gardens, Leeds

After that we had a look at the gardens, which always look good. The walled garden area will look wonderful when the roses are out. The main part has planted beds and of course, the canal! There is also an intricately carved tree stump, depicting animals you’ll find in the gardens, including meerkats!

Canal Gardens, Leeds
Canal Gardens, Leeds

A few practicalities: there are accessible loos in the various cafés and the visitor centre, Blue Badge parking outside Tropical World and on Mansion Lane. We parked in the Tram Park as I find it easier to get in and out onto/from the road surface, as it were, than the pavement, although actually, the pavement is mostly very low in Mansion Lane. The council’s page for Roundhay Park has plenty of access information and the number to ring to book scooters, which are free.

The park also looks fabulous in Autumn!

Accessible wildlife!

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

We decided to visit Norfolk because I had seen a review of Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve, run by the Hawk and Owl trust, on Euan’sGuide,  so we booked some accessible accommodation nearby, which turned out to be far better than we thought – see my review of Norfolk Disabled-Friendly Cottages for more detail.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

Off we went to Sculthorpe in the Saturday morning sunshine and we weren’t disappointed! It’s lovely to go somewhere that’s so accessible you don’t have to give it any more thought than anyone else would – this is how it should be.

The whole place is accessed by boardwalks with netting on for grip and all the hides are accessible too. The only non-boardwalk section is the lane you go down between the visitor centre and the reserve itself – but as the staff explained, you could drive down the lane and start on the boardwalk from there if you preferred.

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

As the lane wasn’t rough (just small pebbles), we parked by the visitor centre (the carpark is gravel but with hardstanding for the Blue Badge spaces) and scooted from there. The visitor centre, which is where you pay – a voluntary donation – and where the loos are, is of course, fully accessible and has a shop and plenty of information. There are two accessible loos – one inside and one outside.

The boardwalk at Sculthorpe Moor
The boardwalk at Sculthorpe Moor

We headed off after a member of staff had given us a map and explained how all the hides are accessible and mentioned a few things we might see – not just birds but potentially deer and water vole too!

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

It was very beautiful and quiet and we could hear birdsong as we scooted round – including up into the hides, some of which were high in the air but with gentle ramps to get in. We were rewarded by spotting some birds we’d never seen before, on a feeder just outside one of the hides and we also watched some water vole running in and out of their holes by the stream – just lovely!

Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve
Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve

The whole experience was great – the easy access, the pleasant, helpful staff and of course, the wildlife!

Daffodils and blossom!

In the gorgeous sunshine of last Sunday we went for a spin along the riverbank and around Rowntree Park. No ducklings yet but plenty of other signs of spring – trees coming into leaf, blossom and lots of daffodils!

Rowntree Park, York
Rowntree Park, York

For a trip like this, I prefer my Bootmaster as it feels safer; my new powerchair would actually cope fine but going down the steepish slope as you enter the park gates from the riverside would probably feel a bit scary in the chair. It’s just psychological – I don’t suppose there’s any danger of actually falling out!

Daffodils in Rowntree Park, York
Daffodils in Rowntree Park, York

 

Pergola, Rowntree Park, York
Pergola, Rowntree Park, York

 

 

 

Here are some more places where you can see spring flowers.

 

 

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York University