Snarling Snow Leopard

An accessible family trip to Marwell Wildflife Park

Marie Holden, the founder of walkswithwheelchairs.com and walkswithbuggies.com is passionate about the great British countryside and spends much of her free time investigating and reviewing new walks and trails. She lives in Dorset with her husband, her two children and two dogs. In this article, Marie tells us about her fun and accessible trip to Marwell Wildflife Park with her family.

Our British weather is just so temperamental; we can go from experiencing cold, wet and windy to an astonishing heat wave in only a matter of weeks. Long and glorious days of sunshine, filled with outdoor fun, lots of laughter and, most importantly, ice cream! On a particular summer weekend, I decided to avoid the influx of visitors coming to Bournemouth and head inland with the little ones and visit the zoo.

Marwell Wildlife Park is situated in the heart of Hampshire, they have done a brilliant job of catering to the needs of those with access challenges. They have considered everything from exploring the park itself – by providing a free land train service – to access into their gift shop. The paths throughout are a mixture of gravel and tarmac, all of which would be very easy for those with pushchairs or wheelchairs to navigate. Marwell provide a number of wheelchairs that can be hired out, although due to the demand for these it is worth booking in advance.

As usual with our ‘educational’ outings, our first stop as a family with young children was the play park. This was to get rid of any excess energy, ensuring maximum concentration for learning all about the animals! When the children had finished playing with the great white shark, we started on our Marwell adventure. We followed the recommended accessible route, which took us through every part of the park and meant we didn’t miss any of the animals. The wooded boardwalks were a fantastic bonus, as they allowed those with access challenges to get even closer to the animals.

From perky penguins to the giant giraffes, Marwell had every type of animal that I had promised the kids they would see. The meerkats were a real favorite for Hannah, perhaps in observing their cheeky and playful nature she saw a little of her own spirit! Joshua was definitely more taken with the penguins; in fact any animal that had a love of the water seemed to be more up his street.

With half the park explored, I was in desperate need of a coffee, so we decided to stop at another rest and play area on the recommended route. They really have planned the facilities very well here, just when you think you can’t go on, you see the welcomed signs of coffee and ice cream.

I really was very impressed with the accessibility of Marwell and how well they maintained the park. I would definitely recommend and return without hesitation. With both children fast asleep in a matter of minutes, I started to think about the nice cold and refreshing glass of wine I was going to drink later that evening and our next family adventure…

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