Autumn leaves on trees

Holywells Park Accessibility Review

Holywells Park in Ipswich is a lovely open space, filled with grass, trees, ponds and playgrounds. The park stretched over 28 hectares with paths and trails throughout. Holywells Park is a County Wildlife Site and a Conservation Area with two listed buildings (the Stable Block and Conservatory), making it a haven for wildlife and history alike.

The park includes blue badge parking, accessed via Cliff Lane. The car park itself gives good access to the park but is simply a hard packed gravel area, no marked out parking spaces. This can be a problem if the next car in decides to park really close but it’s often empty with plenty of space. There is a map on display in the car park which gives you a good idea of where you’re heading and allows you to plan your route before setting off.

Once you’ve navigated the gravelly car park there is a steep hill down to the Conservatory and Stable Block. From here various paths branch off into the buildings and down the hill towards the ponds and play park.

The Conservatory and Stable Block areas include The Stable Block Visitor Centre and Stable Café which is open from 10am – 5pm (April to October) and 10am – 4pm (October to March). There is also outdoor seating and a fully accessible Changing Places room suitable for those with profound and multiple disabilities. There is plenty of space for transfers and a ceiling track hoist and changing table suitable for adults. In preparation for your visit you can check out the facilities in panorama.

Adjacent to the Stable Block there is a walled garden and Conservatory complete with ramped access and smooth paving. During the winter it’s a little bare so I’ll add some photos when I visit in the summer.

The park is pretty hilly so naturally a few of the paths are pretty steep but the quality of the paths is really good so it’s by no means impossible if you’re a wheelchair user. The Paths nearest the Conservatory and Blue Badge Parking are all tarmac or paving making them smooth and relatively mud free!

 

As you head down the hill and away from the Conservatory you come to a series of rivers and ponds before reaching the children’s playground. Again, the paths to the playground are pretty steep but are of good quality. There is even a slightly muddy but unfenced area to feed the ducks from, if you’re careful not to roll into the pond you can get an unobstructed view of the pond and the variety of birds on it.

Pair of Mandarin Ducks on the pond

The children’s playground is ‘galleon’ themed, named ‘The Discovery’ after the ship which sailed to North America to found Jamestown in 1607.

The play area has a variety of play equipment some that would definitely appeal to free-running grown-ups and kids alike. There is a sheltered picnic area as well as plenty of grass to stretch out on too. In the summer months there’s also a shallow water play area to cool off in.

Next to the playground there are public toilets including an accessible toilet with plenty of space for my manual wheelchair. It’s not as fancy a the Changing Places space but it’s perfectly fine for those who can stand and walk a little.

The paths, in general, get less wheelchair friendly the further you get from the visitors centre. Many of the peripheral paths are a mix of paving and natural forest floor as well as cobble stones and grass.

There are a range of river-side viewing platforms and seating areas hidden around the park which give glimpses into the wild side of the park. Amongst the dog walkers, bicycles and Pokémon Go players you can spot a variety of wildlife. Kingfishers, Gold Crests, Muntjac Deer, Green Woodpeckers, Egrets, Long Tailed Tits and more.

Muntjac Deer creeping through bracken and brambles

For fitness fans the park also features a keep fit trail with a variety of workout stations dotted around. Some are accessible but others are further off the beaten path.

Me in the forground and my boyfriend doing a handstand on some parallel bars.

All in all it’s a great place to visit as long as you’re not too bad with hills. There is plenty of open space with a great mix of flora and fauna. It’s somehwere I’ll definitely visit frequently so if you see me please pop over and say hello!

As always questions and comments are welcome

JBOT

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