The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is known as one of the finest botanic gardens in the world and after visiting with my family this past weekend, it’s very clear why. It also made for a great accessible day out to enjoy the last days of summer. Made even better by the beautiful September sunshine we experienced for our day in the Capital.
Arriving at the main entrance of West Gate – John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre on Arboretum Place around 2pm, we discovered all six disabled blue badge bays were taken (most of the cars didn’t even have a blue badge). These bays are on the left-hand side and allow you to park for free if your blue badge is on display. We were lucky to get parked in a regular bay on the right of the entrance. There is roughly the same number of regular bays at the entrance so you may want to factor that into your planning if unable to park in a disabled bay as the other option would possibly be on-street parking.
There are disinfectant mats that you must cross before entering the building. This protects the plants from any germs and diseases.
Inside the John Hope Gateway Visitor Centre you’ll find a large spacious area with an Information desk, gift shop and toilets. A lift will take you up to the Gateway restaurant. The information desk has a lowered section for wheelchair users, a hearing loop and there was a number of motorised scooters and wheelchairs available for visitors to use if required.
Off we went with a map in hand to explore the 72 acres of the Garden. First up was the Cryptogamic Garden which led us to the Native Woodland. Our nephew was particularly impressed with the Native Woodland and the various fairy doors he found hidden amongst the trees. Hearing him shout “Come this way Auntie Emma” with excitement made me smile.
I was very impressed that the woodland was wheelchair accessible and I didn’t experience any problems driving through it. The path was smooth even amongst the trees.
The Edible Garden and Fruit Garden were next up and what a delicious sight they were. Full of all my favourite fruit and vegetables. I’ve always wanted to grow my own and seeing this just made me want to even more. It will happen…one day!
The Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden has a nice little maze to
wander get stuck in (just kidding!). I didn’t fancy getting stuck at a dead end and having to try find my way out so I opted to drive around the perimeter. Another highlight for my Nephew was the stone pavilion.
The inside of the stone pavilion was striking. The roof was completely covered in pine cones and the walls beautifully decorated with seashells and tiles displaying Scotland’s national flower, the Thistle. It was very impressive and a nice spot to relax in and shelter from the sunshine or rain (depending on when you visit).
The Palm House and Glasshouse entrance has a grand appearance and looked incredibly inviting. Level entry and push-button automatic doors makes it easy to enter and wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to go inside The Glasshouse as we ran out of time. It is a definite must for our next visit as it looked amazing and I really want to see the 3,000 exotic plants from around the world and the 200-year-old palm tree. Who wouldn’t?
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a great example of excellent accessibility for wheelchair users. Displaying clear signage of accessible and inaccessible paths. The signage is positioned low down so that is it easily seen by children and wheelchair users. Most of the paths are tarmacked and very pleasant to drive on. All buildings have push-button automatic doors and level or ramped ground floor access. There are also 11 accessible toilets located throughout the Garden and its buildings.
I highly recommend a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh – you won’t be disappointed. It makes a great accessible day out and is fun for all ages. The only disappointment was that we didn’t arrive earlier to make the most of our time. It’s so easy to lose track of time while rolling around this massive Garden and exploring the various features and buildings. Even though we were there for several hours it still wasn’t enough time to see it all. The next time we visit, which I hope is fairly soon, we are going to concentrate on the other side of the Garden, the Glasshouse and the restaurant or café. The Terrace Café even has two designated tables for wheelchair users. Now that’s pretty cool!
Admission to the Garden is free, but if you want to visit The Glasshouse you’ll pay £5.50 for an adult, £4.50 for concession, children under 15 and carers enter for free.
Have you been to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh?
What’s your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh?