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69) Alnwick Castle & Gardens, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE661QN.
You can visit either just the castle - the gardens or as we did - both.
My route covered both sites - the gardens is in the grounds of the castle. My route was around 3 miles in total. You can extend both routes to add more if required. A real bonus of both the castle and the gardens is that they both have free mobility scooters for disabled guests to use. These need to be booked via the castle and gardens visitor centres -but you do have to pay the entrance fee for each site separately.
Its not a cheap day out especially if you have children and other adults in your group. Disabled visitors who need a carer can book a free career place when you purchase your tickets online.
Costs £18:50 per adult for the castle, £14:50 per adult for the gardens. Cheaper for children.
Only guide and assistance dogs (in service jackets) are permitted in both locations.
The approach is on a wide tarmac road - this leads to the cobbled road- bear in mind the castle was built in stages from the 12th century - so expectedly wheelchair access was not high on the design scope !
The castle is the second largest habited castle in the UK- second only to Windsor.
The grounds and paths within the castle are not too bad, there are some gravel sections but these can be avoided.
Sadly the state rooms are not wheelchair accessible - 7 medieval steps to negotiate. So I was unable to view / visit these.
From the visitor centre you head down the steps- there is a ramp to facilitate wheeled access - note a lack of edge protection so please be careful up and down this ramp.
There is an easy to follow route to all parts of the garden for a wheelchair user to explore. A few hilly sections, so if you do self propel you may need a bit of a hand. I use a Batec Scrambler but used one of the locations own free mobility scooters for our visit. It handled the hills very well. My transfer was a little tricky but I could have used my own transfer board if needed.
A lot of thought has gone into the design of the gardens - to ensure they are fully suitable for a disabled visitors. Some really fun downhill sections with switchbacks near the swings in the cherry trees area!!.
You are not able to wheel down each side of the grand fountain as its stepped but this doesn't detract much from your visit.
Facilities on site:
Plenty of free unlimited time disabled parking if you enter from the war memorial in the town. Or you can park in the council run carparks outside the grounds - free for Blue Badge holders but there is a time limit of 3 hours max.
Plenty of disabled toilets are provided on site.
There is also a huge treehouse - but we didn't visit this as I doubt wheels and treehouses go well together.
What might you see?
The castle is a stunning intact 12th century fortress, surrounded by a dry moat and high walls.
The castle has featured in numerous blockbuster films so may well look familiar?
Harry Potter & the Transformers to name but two. The Inner Bailey is the location that the scenes with Harry undertaking his broomstick training were filmed.
During out of term times and weekends there are often other things to see and do - during our visit there were falconry displays, broomstick lessons and archery.
The gardens are incredibly stunning . Based around an integral and vast cascading water feature that will impress all. Especially when the timed sprays and fountains are operating.
Lots of insects - butterfly and birds visiting. Look out for visiting deer. Quite a few birds of prey can also be seen in the fields around the sites.
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