Every effort has been made to achieve access to the Castle environment and facilities, from the car parking onwards. Within the courtyard adjoining the Tearooms are three identified disabled access car parking spaces, with a level route to the café, shops and Castle. Alternatively, you can park on the level cobbled area immediately adjoining the entrance to the Castle grounds, again with level access.
You may be visiting the village as a whole, including the Castle, in which case there is a public car park at the entrance to the village approx. 0.2 mile away. There is a level and even surfaced footpath all the way, and the kissing gate at the pedestrian exit from the car park is designed to be wheelchair friendly. The public car park does not have designated disabled spaces but does have a disabled access toilet.
As an ambulant disabled person, I found the stone flagged level footpaths and tarmac drive ideal for access to the cafe, food shop and fancy good shop, and wheelchair users would find the door widths and level entrances suitable.
The café has ample circulation space, and disabled access toilet facilities.
The route to the Castle is through the fancy goods shop, where there is clear circulation between display units, and double doors that are held back, out of the rear of the shop into the courtyard of the Castle. Here electric scooters can also be hired.
In the rear lobby are standard and accessible toilets.
Crossing the courtyard to the Castle entrance is level and on a lightly, small gauge gravelled surface, which is not restricting or difficult for ambulant disabled people or wheelchair users. Entrance into the castle is via a level paved porch, and huge entrance door. All tours are taken by a castle guide, with some parties (every hour or so) including a portable neck loop system to enable the hearing impaired visitor to hear what the guide is saying more clearly.
The tour route around the ground floor is all on a level, with ample circulation and door widths, but the first floor rooms are approached only via a wide staircase, that is a strong architectural feature. For anyone unable to negotiate these stairs, there is available a DVD of the tour which can be viewed on television or personal portable DVD players available for use. The guided tour is suitable for sight impaired visitors because a lot of the history is anecdotal and entertaining and interesting to listen to, and the guides will allow you to handle some of the less fragile items on display, including the 17th century armour.
The disabled access toilet in the Castle is a little way from the rooms that are visited, towards the conference/function rooms in the East Wing, but the access route through is level and easy, with smooth hard surfaces all the way.
Externally, the terrace at the front of the Castle has the same small gauge gravelled surface, that is reasonably accessible, and from there, one can gain a panoramic vista of the garden and park beyond. The path to the waterfall bridge and park beyond can only be accessed via a set of stone steps with have handrails at each side, and the footpath has some relatively steep gradients in places. The kissing gate between the waterfall bridge and the deer park is not suitable for wheelchairs.
The route to the gardens is easier: follow the terrace round until you come to some stone steps with a handrail on both sides: there is a well signposted ramped footpath to the right for wheelchair users and which gets you down onto the path that runs alongside the lake, heading towards the gardens and grounds beyond.
The walled gardens occupy level ground, and a network of paths with a very fine stone surface makes access throughout easy for wheelchair users. The central Orangery building is fully accessible but the glasshouses can only be accessed and exited via a small flight of stone steps with a handrail to one side. There are plenty of benches throughout the main garden area.
The wooded grounds beyond the walled garden are accessed via a network of broad stone paths. The paths are shaped like an oval, with a central path running straight down the middle. The eastern path (come out of the Orangery and turn right at the crossroads) has the gentlest gradient and is the easiest route to the temple at the far end. The central and lakeside paths have reasonable gradients for the return downhill journey. Benches are sited at regular intervals on the lakeside and central path.
The track around the lake and through the deer park isn't suitable for wheelchair or electric buggy access: the surface is uneven and a long stretch is across grass, the kissing gate between the waterfall bridge and deer park isn't wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, and there is a steep gradient up the path to the castle.