Continuing my hunt for great places to visit which are dog friendly and have good disabled access, I managed to visit a garden I have wanted to visit for a long time – Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset.
Due to the nature of the gardens, I wasn’t sure how accessible it would be, as I have visited many places over the years that say they have disabled access, but how good that is can vary widely.
On our trip out we were accompanied by our respective families, so Brinkley enjoyed being the centre of attention on our day out.
I have to say we did get a little lost on the way there as our Sat Nav didn’t register where we were for most of the journey, because there are lots of hills and valleys in the area. So if you are planning to visit, I suggest you remember to pack a map, just in case.
When we arrived, there was plenty of parking with disabled parking areas.
A big plus was that you could visit the restaurant, shop and garden centre for free before paying to enter the gardens.
I love visiting the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, but I have been unable to see their ‘sub-tropical jungle area’ in the Lost Valley, as it isn’t really accessible for those with mobility difficulties and wheelchairs. My husband Matt and my Dad said that when comparing these two gardens, Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens is similar in planting and design; however about 50% of these gardens can be enjoyed by wheelchair users, which is great to see some of the subtropical plants. I will say though that if you suffer from a lot of pain, the paths are quite rough, so be prepared to take your time and enjoy what you can.
The gunnera in the ‘Upper Pond’ and ‘Bog Garden’ areas in the gardens, are amazing. We saw beautiful fuchsias and hydrangeas dotted around the garden, and we all thought that the ‘Walled garden,’ ‘Victorian walled gardens’ and the ‘Lily pond’ were exquisite. It is a peaceful place to enjoy the plants at their best.
Other areas of interest are the sculpture trail and they hold special events for example plays, falconry events, and enchanted floodlit evenings. You can even have your wedding there!
It is a truly beautiful garden! The design and layout of the plants is cleverly done, as you are able to admire the views and planting schemes from many angles. To catch a glimpse of what you can expect check out their virtual garden tour
At the end of your visit, there is a nice garden shop, to tempt you!
If you are lucky you may catch a view of the extravagant Golden pheasant!
Brinkley thoroughly enjoyed the day out, as there was plenty to sniff and investigate!
As the well known saying says, as quoted on a beautiful wood carving that you see when you enter the gardens –
‘Enjoy the Garden.
Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints.’
Quick overview using our criteria
- Does the place accept dogs? Yes if the dog is kept on a lead.
- Do they provide bins? Yes
- Do they provide an area for refreshments for our furry friends? Yes they have water bowls in the Colonial Restaurant area outside.
- If visiting a place that has a café / restaurant / pub where are the dogs allowed to be? Dogs are welcome on leads, we chose to sit outside as it was easier.
Disability access –
- How accessible is the area? Approximately 50 % of the gardens are accessible, so I wasn’t able to see the whole garden.
- Is parking near by? Yes there is a car park next to the gardens.
- Is the area suitable for wheelchairs – manual or electric? You can use either, but I would say that an electric wheelchair/scooter would be at a great advantage due to the terrain. Some of the paths are quite rough and the smaller front wheels of a wheelchair could have difficulty. If you go, take someone who is strong.
- Is there is enough seating? There are some, but would have appreciated more.
- Are there disabled toilets? Yes
- Are there any steps? Yes, but ramps are provided into various buildings and you can choose various paths on the recommended route around the garden.
- If there are doors – how easy is to open them – fairly easy.
- If the place visited has a café/restaurant are there alternatives for those on a gluten free diet? Yes, savoury and sweet
- Do they cater for a vegetarian diet? Yes
So in conclusion
It’s a stunning garden, with a lovely restaurant, and shopping area. Brinkley enjoyed his visit and we will be back!
When deciding how to grade the garden’s under our criteria, it was difficult to make the decision as it ticks so many boxes, but feel it could do with some more seating and I wasn’t able to see the whole garden, because of the terrain, (but I appreciate all the effort they have gone to, to make it as accessible as they can, due to the layout of the gardens, this is a difficult task for them.)
It is a great day out for the whole family and I fully recommend a visit!!!
I am awarding them a Brinkley award and will still be sending them a Brinkley card.
If you would like to visit here are the details –
You can find this lovely garden in Abbotsbury near Weymouth in Dorset.
Admission fees –
Adult – £9.50
OAP, Student, Disabled – £9.00
Children 5-15 years – £6.50
Family Ticket – Group of 5 with a maximum of 2 Adults- £26.00
Near by is the famous Abbotsbury Swannery and Abbotsbury Children’s Farm. If you would like to visit these too, the gardens, swannery and farm run a special passport ticket scheme, so you are able to make the most of your visit to this beautiful area.
If you are an RHS Member check your handbook for when you can use your card for free entry.
If you have the Gardener’s World 2 for 1 gardens visit card you can use it here, which is great!
Opening Hours –
Open everyday apart from the 18th December – 1st January
10 am – 5/6pm Winter until 4 pm
If you visit, I hope you have a great day.
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