We popped back to Chirk Castle near Oswestry on another sunny Sunday today. Chirk Castle is situated in a 480 acre estate with lots to see and explore. We joined the National Trust last summer with a £10 Junior Membership for Emily and an Essential Companion’s Card which has been fantastic value and gives us girls places to go and explore.
Just like all attractions built in the late 13th century, accessibility isn’t entirely straightforward but lots of measures are in place to try and make Chirk Castle as accessible as possible. There are accessible parking spaces close to the Visitors Centre and a wheelchair accessible shuttle bus which takes you up to the main castle. Undoubtedly the bus trip, shop and café are Emily’s highlights….
The bus takes you to the main entrance of the castle and very close to the entrance to the grounds. We spent most of our time in the gardens last time as the main house was closed for the Winter. There are lots of level paths and lawns, and accessible paths dotted about.
The main courtyard area which leads to the main house, servants hall, dungeons, shop and café is slightly more challenging as there are cobbles and more uneven surfaces. Emily can manage surfaces like this with help and there are a few ramped options. Most places are reached down 1 or 2 steps or have a lip leading into them, so a very close eye needed on the escaper extraordinaire. We tucked into our picnic in the courtyard area!
We give most things a bash with Emily, and will tackle physically challenging things like cobbles, mud, sand, or walks in the woods to try and make sure she doesn’t miss out on anything. We know she will need extra help and it’s sometimes a 2 man job but it’s important to us that we can do as much as possible as a family.
However, we had to draw the line today at the stone spiral staircase down to the Dungeons! There was no way Emily could have managed them and I’m not sure there would be a way for the NT to make them accessible. They are a bit hair raising even if you can manage them!
The main house (or East Wing) is now open, and we made our way in using the wheelchair ramp access entrance. The house has a spacious lower floor with widened doorways and level access throughout – they were ahead of the game in the 13th century in some ways! Wheelchair access to the first floor isn’t available but virtual tours showing the upper levels are available. We managed to reach the first floor using the narrower set of stairs with handrails either side.
After leaving the main house we had a chat with a friendly real-life knight while waiting for the bus, then had our return journey down to Home Farm and the Visitor Centre, with Emily directing operations regarding seating…Back at the Visitor Centre you can find the main shop, a seasonal kiosk, second-hand bookshop, play area and Wild Play area. We had a bash at the play area last time but at the moment there isn’t any accessible play equipment.
Chirk Castle is a lovely place to visit and is very family and dog-friendly. There is lots to see and do inside and out, and lots of different activities during the year. It’s really important to read the accessibility guide before visiting as the stairs, cobbles and hills are more challenging, but knowledge is power! We were able to access most areas of the castle, it would have been a little more difficult when Emily was still using a rollator or we were using the adapted pushchair, but not impossible! All the information you need is in the access statement, just copy and paste the link.
The National Trust have put lots of extra measures in place like ramp access to the East Wing, a shuttle bus and accessible parking spaces. It would be fantastic to see new accessibility features like some accessible play equipment and even a Changing Places facility, but we appreciate 700 year old buildings present some challenges to modern day accessibility needs!
We have some wonderful accessible holiday accommodation listed on our website www.accessibleholidayescapes.co.uk which are all within an hours drive of Chirk Castle. Just copy and paste the link below and take a look!