My visit to Kew Gardens in Richmond, London.
Blue Badge Parking: Yes
Concessions/Carer Prices: Free admission for disabled visitor and one carer
Wheelchair/Mobility Scooter hire: Yes (mobility scooters to be booked in advance)
Accessible Toilets: Yes
I visited Kew Gardens on the 2nd of December with family. This was my first time visiting the attraction.
On arrival, we easily found a blue badge parking space outside the Elizabeth Gate. There are only three spaces at this entrance, and I suspect that at busier times of year these will fill up quickly. There are details of other blue badge parking locations on the Disability and Access area of the attraction’s website.
At the gate we were given free admission for myself and my carer, which was brilliant. As we entered the attraction I was impressed by how smooth the paths were, which continued to be the case throughout the entirety of the gardens.
There are accessible entrances to the buildings, however these aren’t very well signed. This meant I had to send an able-bodied person in my group ahead to locate these entrances to save me trekking around the entire building looking for the ramp. Most of the doors did not open automatically and were quite narrow. If visiting alone, this may cause some problems for an individual with impaired mobility. It is also stated on the website that use of mobility scooters inside the glasshouses is prohibited, but that those using mobility scooters can borrow manual wheelchairs to enter them.
Once inside, the buildings had smooth paving and I was able to self-propel my wheelchair with ease. There were plenty of accessible toilets which were very large, had helpful rails and had changing facilities within them too. Some areas of the buildings (such as the viewing platforms in the Palm House) are not wheelchair accessible.
I was disappointed on arrival at the Treetop Walkway to find that there was a barrier across the lift. There were no signs to indicate why this was. We called the helpline from the map but there was an automated message saying their lines were only open Monday-Friday (we were there on a Sunday). This was quite a disappointment but hopefully this was a one-off.
One thing I feel it is important to note is that Kew Gardens is directly under a flight path, meaning that a plane flies very low over the site every few minutes and is rather loud. This may cause problems for visitors with sensory issues.
Kew Gardens’ website states that they are able to offer specific tours for those using British Sign Language, for those with dementia and sensory guided tours for those with sight loss. These sound wonderful and are a rarity.
Despite the problems I came across, I really enjoyed this attraction and it was beautifully decorated for Christmas. I think they really do intend to make the gardens as accessible as possible, but more signage would really be useful and perhaps a specific accessibility map for disabled visitors. I would still recommend going if you are in London and enjoy beautiful scenery and exotic plants.
Thanks for reading.