Accessible Gardens
Accessible Gardens


Dunham Massey House and Gardens
La Quinta Arboretum and Nature Reserve
Tatton Park and Gardens
Arley Hall
Bridgemere Garden World
Capesthorne Hall
Chester Zoo
Cholmondeley Castle
Gawsworth Hall
Lyme Park


Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Telephone: 01619 411025
Run by the National Trust



Review by John Lea - March 2011

It is a fairly long walk from the car park to the entrance but there is a six-seater buggy running from the car park to the ticket office.

This garden has been described as ‘the lungs of Manchester’. If you go, expect a whole lot of lungs taking deep breaths.

Walking towards the ticket office you pass a lake with lots of wildfowl, and they are free to watch if you only want to go into the deer park.

We were there on a bright sunny morning when daffodils were full in bloom. There was quite a lot of colour but mostly from bulbs; there should be considering they have planted over 25,000 in the last two years. Mind you, I am told that the squirrels have eaten a good share of them!

We were disappointed that there were not more early flowering shrubs but perhaps the hard winter could be the cause. I have been there in late summer when those gardens were breathtakingly full of colour.

Medium in size, the gardens are well maintained and interestingly laid out. Apart from a large cobblestone yard the garden paths are level, hard packed with very smooth gravel. The real space is in the deer park where there are many hard paths along which you can take long or even very long walks free of charge. And yes; you can get very close to the deer.

You can pay to go in the garden separately from the house or access both the deer park and restaurant without going into either.

Scooters and wheelchairs are available but it is advisable to ring and book. The only ground floor disabled toilet is just across the cobbles from the restaurant alas, on wheels, to get to either you have to bounce across those cobblestones, which isn't fun. There is a second disabled loo accessed by a lift in the restaurant block. The house has three large steps where the staff, who are very helpful, will fix a ramp. I did not go in but I was assured it would only take a few minutes. Only some of the downstairs is wheelchair friendly but in the house there is a computer available on which you can do a virtual tour.



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Swettenham Village, Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 2LF
Telephone: 01477 537698



Review by John Lea - October 2010

Lying in a tangle of country lanes situated in the triangle of Cheshire countryside between Holmes Chapel, Chelford and Congleton.

The Arboretum is entered by the Swettenham Arms Pub, therefore when you are trying to find it just follow the Swettenham Arms signs, they start by the Yellow Broom, which lies on the Chelford Road about 3 miles outside Holmes Chapel. You may wonder where you going down those small country lanes, the last mile of which is the only way in or out of the village. This is one of the most popular pubs in Cheshire so a lot of people do find their way in and out. The pub, the Church and the Arboretum share the large car park.

In 1948, Prof SIR Bernard Lovell, of Jodrall Bank Telescope fame, made his home in Swettenham and began to plant trees behind his garden. The original 28 acres, now extended to around 40 acres, is now owned and managed by the Tatton Garden Society of which Prof Lovell is the President.

Planted with a mixture of trees and shrubs from across the world and interwoven by grassy glades there is interest throughout the year. There are no hard paths, just grass but the light loamy soil never seems to tread up. I travel round in a large wheeled electric wheelchair and, other than not tackling the steep bank at the far end, I have no trouble. A medium-sized scooter would be better but a manual wheelchair could be hard work. From the back of the Arboretum you get fantastic views overlooking the Dane Valley.

As an added attraction, the pub has a lavender meadow and when that is in full flower the scent and the attendant butterflies would soften the hardest heart.
There is no staff or facilities in the Arboretum, just an honesty box at the entrance. The charge is £2.50, is it free to disabled? That must be on your conscience. Open all year except Christmas Day and food (good food) is available all day at the Pub. And as an added bonus, they now specialise in exquisite afternoon teas. There is a disabled toilet in their Lovell Banqueting Suite, but you may have to ask the pub staff to unlock it. Don't let that put you off, this is a privately owned pub, the owners live in the village and the staff are always most helpful.

If you did find the ground hard going just walk on down the tarmac lane. It is just as country lanes were in my youth; hedgerows, wildflowers and no traffic. Nostalgic magic!

+ Nearby: The Swettenham Arms, a pub serving a range of food (ask for DT key), with a lavender field.



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Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN
Telephone: 01625 374400 (enquiries)

Review by John Lea - September 2010

This vast Parkland and garden, owned by the National trust but run by Cheshire County Council attract vast numbers of visitors. You have to pay as you enter the Park; although there is a concession for disabled, it is not free. There is an additional charge to go round the Gardens, the usual carer free wheelchair pays but my wife, being a member of the RHS, gets in free and I get nodded through in the bargain. Therefore, I cannot tell you the charge.

But let us start at the beginning. There is 1000 acres of Deer Park to drive through with two large areas where you can park freely. One under the trees overlooking the large lake and the other, nearby, parking in the open where you can gaze across a vast area of open parkland. It is a Park in which you can spend many happy hours picnicking, watching children playing, dog walkers and Deer relaxing. Between these two parking areas there are toilets, including disabled.

To visit either house or Gardens would be a very long walk and so you drive to a very large car-parking complex but beware - the disabled parking area is a good walk from the garden entrance. There is a drop-off point and you need to use it if you have an able-bodied companion. Disabled parking used to be much closer, although cars are still parked in that area they appeared to belong to the staff, and the disabled have to hump it. Privately owned gardens such as Chatsworth or Alnwick have the disabled parking the closest and the staff walk the walk. (Doesn't it make you feel good to have a good winge?) Perhaps to be fair to Tatton there could be problems with space and the number of disabled visitors, even so I think they could take another look at their disabled facilities.

There is still a good walk from the drop-off point to the main complex. The restaurant is large and spacious but it is years since we used it simply because we enjoy a picnic in the Park. The disabled toilets are large with bags of room to get a wheelchair in but the one I used only had one handrail by the toilet seat; if you need two handrails to get up you will have to ring for room service.

The garden entrance is directly opposite across a large and usually crowded courtyard. There is a children's fairground ride in the middle with lots of little children milling around and dogs on leads threading their way in and out of a medley of humans. You get the picture; there are many visitors to Tatton. At the garden entrance the staff are very helpful, scooters are for hire but it is sensible to book in advance because it seems ridiculous to go through all the hassle of getting there and find that there are not available.

Once inside the Gardens they are a dream for wheels, wide paths that are relatively flat and there are plenty of seats dotted around for those who want to rest.

You enter firstly into the large walled kitchen garden, re created as it was in Lord Edgerton’s time. There is even a pineapple house as well as a fantastic range of fruit vegetables and flowers. On my last visit I spent almost two hours in this fascinating walled garden, part of that time looking at the old varieties of apples and pears all clearly named and just ripening in September. On a warm late summer's day this garden is a butterfly enthusiasts dream.

It is amazing after the hustle and bustle of the courtyard to feel a sense of peace and quiet in the Gardens. I have only found one set of steps and that is into the rose garden immediately adjacent to the walled garden, other than that you are free to roam through 50 acres of lovely mature Gardens.

But if you want to go to the toilets, you have a problem. There is none in the Garden and you cannot take the scooter out across to the disabled toilets. At Chatsworth or Alnwick you can take the scooters to the toilets or car park or the restaurants but at Tatton – no.

Other than Mondays, the gardens are open all year, and perhaps at their best in spring when azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons are in bloom. Though I think it is wrong to pick out any one time of the year because even in winter they are a pleasure to visit. The mixture of mature trees, shrubs and lakes can be very beautiful in the autumn and particularly with a touch of Frost or Snow on the ground.

The house has a more limited opening period. I have not visited it therefore I would recommend that you make individual enquiries as to times and suitability for disabled.


Response from Tim Birtles at Tatton:


"At Tatton Park we endeavour to assist all our visitors to ensure they experience an enjoyable visit, as such we do allow visitors to use the scooters across the stable yard to access the toilets facilities when opportunity allows. We have also permitted visitors to use the scooters from the Garden Entrance to the car park which has been agreed with the visitor assistant working on the site during the day. This is so we can ensure we know the location of all equipment.


As we have 750 thousand visitors per annum we regretfully are unable to allow visitors to use the scooters for the restaurant area and occasionally during peak periods when the scooters are in high demand or when individuals have booked a scooter in advance to access the 50 acres of gardens, we have had to prioritise these individuals in these instances. . The routes to the main show gardens are paved with compacted gravel which facilitates access for people using wheelchairs. Path gradients are within the recommended limits and there is a ramp to entrance with most areas being free from steps. Assistance dogs are allowed in the formal gardens."

"Parking is in the main car park.There are three parking spaces and a drop off point at the Stableyard."
"Scooters are available free but a deposit is required."
"We are open now on Mondays."
"There is access to the Mansion for people with mobility difficulties by means of a ramp. Visitors can request access to the ramp from Mansion Assistants.

There is then level access around the entire first floor of the Mansion and all state rooms can be viewed. Wheelchairs can be provided on request. The upper level of the Mansion can only be accessed by stairs due to the nature of the historic building. A stair climber is available operated by Mansion Assistants, which should be booked in advance. For those not wishing to go upstairs there is a photograph album of the upstairs rooms."



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Arley, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6NA
Telephone: 01565 777353


Review by John Lea


Fantastic herbaceous border, wheelchair friendly, all facilities and scooter hire.



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Bridgemere Nursery & Garden World, Bridgemere, nr Nantwich, CW5 7QB
Telephone: 01270 521100


Review by John Lea


Wheelchairs available with full facilities. A garden centre with several demonstration gardens that are well worth visiting.



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Siddington, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9JY
Telephone: 01625 861221

Review by John Lea


Open Sundays and Mondays. Not great and not too wheelchair friendly, teas and DT.



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Caughall Road, Chester, CH2 1LH
Telephone: 01244 380280

Review by John Lea


Gardens are fantastic, chairs and scooters available, all facilities.



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Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8AH
Telephone: 01244 380280

Review by John Lea


Superb - need to pick your path but well worth it. All facilities.



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Church Lane, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9RN
Telephone: 01260 223456

Review by John Lea


Accessibility limited in house and gardens but accessible tea room and toilets.



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Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 2NR
Telephone: 01663 762023

Review by John Lea


Setting for 'Pemberley' in the BBC 'Pride and Prejudice'. Large area to visit with the some slopes and cobbles. Hall only partly wheelchair friendly. Wheelchairs available. All facilities.







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