We were invited here for Sunday lunch with family friends and overall the experience was great: private dining room, good company, relaxed atmosphere and pleasant staff. The setting is wonderful, especially on a sunny day with autumn colours everywhere and the gardens looked lovely. The food however was nothing special: I had a starter of prawns in a Marie Rose sauce straight out of a bottle, the roast pork main course was good without being great and the lemon tart dessert was somewhat stodgy; house wine was fine, coffee was good.
I couldn’t find anything on the website about access, so I rang to ask and was told that there is a side entrance which is accessible but we just needed to check with reception when we arrived that it was open. Getting round to the side entrance was no problem, and it felt like a proper garden entrance rather than just some random back door, but the threshold had rather a high lip to get over which gave quite a jolt. Inside had ramps and an accessible toilet and although getting into the bar was a little exact, it was manageable and the other rooms were perfectly spacious. Leaving at the end was problematic as the high threshold had a slight slope on the incoming side but none on the outgoing, so my scooter could not have coped with it and we had to lift it over. Presumably wheelchairs cope with it OK given that the place is geared for them generally.
On the whole, I like the way they have incorporated ramps without spoiling the character of the building and the staff were excellent at being welcoming and helpful but I would not rush back as the food was not something to go out of your way for.
There is loads to visit here including the house, the rare breeds farm and the grounds with their lake, hothouses and in spring, spectacular rhododendrons. The grounds are free although there is a charge for the house and farm. The house was built in the C16th and was the birthplace of Lord Darnley, Mary Queen of Scots’ husband. The farm nearly always seems to have cute baby animals and the buildings and displays are interesting too. The grounds are really extensive and a lot of it can be explored in the all-terrain scooters you can borrow – they are the most solid scooters I have used. The first time we went the ground was really soggy but it was no trouble (there are perfectly good tarmac paths but they were blocked in places as they were setting up for an event). The only thing to watch is that they are the sort of scooters that go faster downhill and also there are a few places, around the farm for example, where the cobbles are a bit rough. You park in the carpark nearest the house and the scooters are usually ready for you by the hut, but they will bring them over to the car and show you how to use them. This was the first place I ever used a scooter and was so glad a friend persuaded me as there is no way I could have visited the grounds otherwise and I hadn’t seen them for years! There is really good information at this linkabout all the access issues. The number to ring to book is 0113 336 7560 – ring Mon-Thur, it doesn’t seem to be staffed on Fridays.
We recently had a team ‘away day’ event here in the Barlow room. The website describes it as having access ramps and disabled facilities, but doesn’t mention the gutter which you need to negotiate before you reach the ramp! I was nervous of scooting over the gutter (my scooter is not really designed for rough terrain!) and got off and had colleagues move the scooter over it the first time but braved it after that and it was OK just rather a jolt. I’m not sure how users of self-propelled wheelchairs would find it. The carpark is at some distance but there is no problem about being dropped at the door. Once inside, it is a lovely venue, very well-appointed and with one of the poshest accessible loos ever!
We had lunch in the main house, which despite being a historic house, had a ramp up to the entrance to avoid the steps, although there was another gutter to negotiate, then staff had placed ramps over two short flights of stairs – rather steep but manageable and the staff were very helpful. Scooting around indoors was fine but the lavatories are on the floor below and although there is a lift, a staff member felt my scooter would not fit in. So, it was back to the Barlow room before we had a guided tour of the lovely gardens – flagstones and gravel paths and short grass with just one step which might be avoidable if you went a different route.
It was a lovely experience – lunch was fabulous! – but I’m not sure I would recommend this place if you were looking for a truly accessible venue.
This is a gorgeous place to visit at any time of year, full of mature trees, beautiful shrubs and loads of daffodils and bluebells in Spring. There are national collections of various plants, a birds of prey centre, a lake, a tearoom, accessible loos and ample parking. You can hire mobility scooters sturdy enough to cope with the terrain which can be a bit boggy at times. They charge £1 and you must prebook by ringing 01677 427203. We found staff to be really pleasant and helpful. There was no problem about taking the scooter out to the car.
Visited this gorgeous place recently and enjoyed the lush plants and the wonderful wildfowl on the lake. There is also a café and plenty of parking. The main carpark is joined to the park by a tunnel under the road but if you are borrowing a mobility scooter you can park in the bays in the park itself by the café. The scooters are free of charge and very sturdy although not the most convenient to operate but the paths are easy enough to negotiate. Ring 0113 2613064 to book a scooter. Great visit! http://www.leeds.gov.uk/leisure/Pages/Golden-Acre-Park.aspx