Accessible Parks and Gardens in East Anglia


Everyone likes to enjoy the fresh air and wildlife, but you may need to check on disabled access before setting out. Ransome Mobility supply used WAVs to customers across East Anglia, including Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

We take a keen interest in all issues surrounding disability motoring and have compiled this list of four of the leading public parks and gardens across the region, and the level of disabled access they offer.

Ickworth House, Horringer

The impressive house and gardens, just outside Bury St Edmunds, were owned by the aristocratic Hervey family, but was sold to the National Trust just over 20 years ago. The house and its famous Rotunda, which were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and its sumptuous gardens bring a slice of Italy to west Suffolk. The garden has a mix of manicured hedges, cypress trees and, in the Temple Garden, Mediterranean plants and flowers.

While some of the terrain and buildings may not be ideal for anyone with restricted mobility, the trust has made strenuous efforts to make it accessible to all. There are Blue Badge spaces in the main car park, where there is also a buggy service during the peak season.

Mobility vehicles and scooters can be pre-booked for hire, which could come in handy during a walk around the gardens, as there are some loose gravel paths and steep slopes. The Rotunda now has a lift, although access for mobility vehicles and wheelchairs is restricted owing to the age and design of the building.

Christchurch Park, Ipswich

This park in the heart of Ipswich consists of 70 acres of lawns and woodlands – and a pond or two. There’s a historic 16th/17th century mansion as well, containing works by artists as famous as Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable.

Disabled parking is available at the Bolton Lane entrance, while the Friends of Christchurch Park have done their best to ensure everyone can enjoy the wildlife. Their ParkMobile electric bus can be hired for an hour, and it can seat wheelchair users as well as able-bodied passengers.

At Christchurch Mansion, there is a manual wheelchair on-site. However, only the displays on the ground floor are accessible – the China Room contains pictures and information about all the displays upstairs. For art-lovers, there is an accessible entrance to the Wolsey art gallery from the park. There are sensory and hands-on experiences at various points throughout the mansion, and there is an accessible toilet on the ground floor.

Helmingham Hall Gardens

This hall, near Stowmarket, dates from the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and is the family home of the Tollemaches, a famous Suffolk brewing family. While the hall is not open to the public, the gardens are, and there should be something of interest to everyone who loves plants.

Knots (where items are planted to resemble knots) roses, herbaceous borders, orchards and apple trees – you’ll find them all here, each in their own named garden.

There is full wheelchair access to all the gardens, which were redesigned by Lady Tollemache, a Chelsea Gold Medal-winner.

Note that the gardens are only open from early May until mid-September, and that sometimes the grounds host other events, such as classic car shows and open-air cinema showings.

Highwoods Country Park, Colchester

This park, to the north-west of Colchester, is a mixture of woodland, open spaces and wildflower meadows – and it has a lake too. It is a haven for flora and fauna and extremely popular.

There is a level tarmac car park at the visitor centre, with four spaces reserved for the disabled. Most of the paths near the visitor centre are level and even, and there are plenty of benches if you ever need a rest. There are three marked walking trails – blue, red and yellow – with the blue route the most accessible. There are also designated cycle paths through the park which can be used by mobility scooter users.

The main garden is wheelchair accessible, while the lake also has a couple of fishing swims set aside for the disabled.

Used Wheelchair Access Vehicles from Ransome Mobility

Ransome Mobility are leading suppliers of used WAVs in East Anglia. We can fit a wide range of vehicle adaptations, including twin-flip accelerators, steering wheel balls and the Carony Drive system, which allows you to drive your vehicle from your wheelchair. To see what vehicles we currently have available, follow this link or call us on 01473 727263.

(Pictures: KAREN ROE/RAJASHREETALUKDAR/IKCUR)

 

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