Accessible Gardens
Accessible Gardens

Wiltshire

Iford Manor
Stonehenge
Avebury
Stourhead Gardens

IFORD MANOR

Iford, Bradford-on-Avon, BA15 2BA
Telephone: 01225 863146
Website: www.ifordmanor.co.uk

 

Review by Bella D'Arcy Reed - November 2010

I adore this garden, and I visited it many times before I became disabled, so I knew what to expect - no mobility scooter, no wheelchair of any kind - just two sticks, one of which was a sitting stick, and determination! From the entrance, you can choose to ascend a long flight of steps or go up a dirt path where the tree roots make an occasional step. This is the way I choose, as you can rest at each 'root-landing'.


When you get to the top there is the romantic cloister - up a couple of steps to get inside, and usually a seat to perch on as you take in the quiet atmosphere - don't forget to peer out of the 'Romeo and Juliet' window.


From there it is a few steps to the completely level path. From here you can see down into the gardens, and carefully inch your way onto the (sloped) grass - where I will sit on my stick for several minutes to take in the quiet rustle of the garden and the sound of water. The path takes you past (or into) the summer house, and then past the large pots, the roman sarcophagus, the reproduced boar - which Peto had made as a cast from the original, a practise not allowed now - to the little loggia with its statue, and box parterre garden:


You can then sit on the semi-circular bench seat and look back at the view. Peto was known for his benches, which garden historian Robin Whalley suggest come from sketches made while Peto was in Pompeii. Such benches are also found in the paintings of Alma-Tadema.


Taking care, you can descend some more steps to see the gorgeous little alcoves with fountains and sculpture, and then take your way across the level grass to the 'long flight' of steps which will take you back to the entrance. As there were lots of perching places I did not feel at all tired. and if you have companions, they can make sure you don't slip. Edging my way down the last steps the gentleman of the house saw me and rushed out to help me down - very kind, as it was damp that day. If you are not chair-bound, you can do this, and with guide dogs and companions. I am sorry for those who can only use a wheelchair as they will miss out - except perhaps on the delicious cakes in the cafe. it is such a pity that the website does not say this - and that it does not encourage the slightly more able-bodied to give it a try.


This article can also be found on our sister-site, www.gardensandpeople.co.uk with more photographs. You can download this article.

 

Response from Iford Manor:


In response to your comments about wheelchair users, Iford is fairly well equipped for wheelchairs to about 50% accessibility. The critical thing is for the user to telephone in advance (T: +44 (0)1225 863146) and we can normally arrange for one of the staff here their chair to enter the garden at the higher levels (e.g. at the casita) whereupon it’s pretty much all on slopes or flat. After consultation with Bella , there is now information and an accessibility map on the website http://www.ifordmanor.co.uk/accessibility.html

 

 

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STONEHENGE

Stonehenge, Off A344 Road, Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE
 
Review by Pamela Boram - February 2011
Photograph by Constantin Jurcut

 

Be aware that there can be long delays on the A303 as far back as the Bulford exit if travelling west.
 

Parking and access to the circuit round the stones is easy. You can stop on the grass area adjoining the circuit and enjoy company and food.
 

It can be breezy up on the Plain so take an extra blanket or wrap.
 

I believe there's mainly open air eating back at the entrance.
 

The disabled toilets were dirty.

 

 

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AVEBURY

Avebury, Nr Marlborough, Wiltshire
 
Review by Pamela Boram - February 2011
Photograph by Michael Stock

 

There is disabled parking in the village.
 

The gift shop opposite the car park is not wheelchair accessible.
 

We reached three main areas with standing stones in the wheelchair.
 

One adjoined the car park, the other was at the end of this and across a road which is a bit risky to cross with a chair. The third was down a lane from the car park.
 

We found sheep in at least one of these each time we visited, and sheep poo is common and a nuisance on the wheels of the chair. There were rams in one of the fields and I wonder how we can be sure they won't charge a wheelchair.
 

The terrain is uneven, being mainly fields.

 

 

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STOURHEAD GARDENS

Nr Mere, Wiltshire
Telephone: 01747 841152
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-stourhead

 

Review by Pamela Boram - February 2011

Be aware that there can be long delays on the A303 as far back as the exit for Bulford if travelling west.

 

There are two car parks, one at the main entrance complex with shop, loos etc and ticket office, the other near a pub etc and closer to the Garden entrance.

 

There's a tarmac slope leading from the complex to this second. You have to show your ticket again at the Garden entrance.

 

The circuit round the Garden included slopes and the path was traversed regularly by channels (for water run-off?) which caught the front wheels of the chair if it wasn't tilted each time.

 

The map was a bit difficult to follow in places, other visitors were lost too, and I found it not well sign-posted.

 

By mistake we went on a non-recommended route, but managed it and came to the Grotto with a good view and flowing water features.

 

The route was hard work. It would be an idea to ensure there are always other visitors around in case you need help.

 

 

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