Visiting a grade one listed castle in a wheelchair isn’t normally advisable. By their very nature, castles are supposed to be inaccessible. Castle Drogo in Dartmoor however, isn’t a typical castle, and the National Trust are trying hard to make it accessible.
As castles go, Castle Drogo is a baby because the build didn’t start until 1911 and was completed in 1930, this makes it the last castle built in England. Built for the businessman Julius Drewe, the castle and country home makes quite a statement.
When we arrived the castle was going through major renovations. The ongoing work, which started in 2013 is due to finish in 2017, hopefully, it’ll make the castle watertight.
The project uses a mammoth amount of free standing scaffold, it can’t be anchored to the walls because of the graded status of the castle.
I would imagine this hampers the job a bit.
Because of the ongoing work, we were unable to access most of the castle, but we did manage a little bimble and here’s how we got on…
Castle Drogo Visitor Centre
We were able to park quite close to the visitor centre in a disabled parking space. Access to the centre is straightforward and once inside it’s all on one level.
We were visiting as part of our trip with Dartmoor Accommodation, if you’re not a member of the National Trust charges apply – maybe we should join the National Trust although I must check if they have concessions for disabled people and their carers?
After a quick chat with the greeters and a little inspection of the Tramper for hire, we set off for the castle.
As you leave the visitor centre, you need to go down an incline to the main driveway where you can hitch a ride on the mobility buggy.
Accessible Route to the Castle
We didn’t take the buggy down to the castle, the walk is not too far or too steep. And, it does give you the chance to view the castle from afar…
Access into Castle Drogo
I’m not sure about the accessible route into the castle, but when we visited a simple portable ramp allowed us access inside.
Inside the Castle
Now to be fair, keeping the castle open to visitors during the renovations must be a logistical nightmare. Sadly, Bridget could only access a small section near the entrance so I was obliged to bimble on my own.
A lot of the exhibits are covered up or on shelving, but the army of volunteers on hand can give you an overview of what you would ordinarily be looking at.
As we had limited access inside the castle, we decided to take a stroll in the gardens.
Accessible Garden Walk
The accessible route through the garden is well marked out…
There are a few routes back up to the visitor centre, one is an accessible path but it looked a little bit too bumpy for Bridget.
Instead, we got back on the main driveway because it had the most even surface of all the routes.
Bridget can’t be jiggled, shuddered and rocked because it results in a flare up, so this was the safest option for us. If you’re on a scooter with good suspension or can cope with a bit of rocking then you may be able to use the other routes?
Once we were back at the visitor centre we had to negotiate the incline. This was probably my fault because we didn’t take another route, that said, it was the only option I could see.
So, I took a run at it and we made it up the hill safely. I appreciate this won’t work for everyone, that’s access, sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit adventurous and go for it!
Website: Castle Drogo
Website: National Trust
If you would like to see what else we got up to in Dartmoor, take a look at our Accessible Dartmoor Road Trip