It was a rainy April morning in Shrewsbury. It didn’t look like it was going to be a perfect day for getting married. We had been invited to a wedding reception in the evening, and hoped that the day would clear up for celebrations for the Matt and Sara, the happy couple, and also for us to be able to make the most of our visit out there to the National Trust’s Attingham Park which was nearby. The plan was to start the visit in the morning, to enjoy the Mansion and the park whilst, hopefully, not getting too wet and muddy so that we have enough time to get ourselves smartened up to go to the evening’s festivities.
Attingham has a magnificent Regency Mansion set in 4,000 acres of beautiful parkland with riverside and woodland walks and a deer park. It can be found from the A5 near Shrewsbury taking the B4380 towards Atcham. From there the brown signs mark the way. The drive enters the ground through an archway before leading to the visitor centre. The blue badge parking is nearby and the car park surface is tarmac. When we went there was no “Access Statement” document on the National Trust website here which was a shame because it warrants one as there is a lot to do and see in the grounds and house. (Subsequently Attingham staff have been in touch with us at Access-Out-There to say that they are updating their Access Statement so have a look for it on their website because it might be available before your visit.) There are self drive and manual wheelchairs available from the visitor centre, and as we went around the park we came across shuttle buggies which drove around the site providing a means of transport for those in need of it.
When we arrived the rain was still coming down so, deciding to head indoors first, we made for the mansion. The flat entrance into the mansion is through the back door so Titania took us that way. A tarmac path led us under a clock archway into a court yard and on under another arch towards a big grey door. Through this we found ourselves welcomed into a circular room where we left Titania’s FreeWheel and went into the main house. From there we made our way to the picture gallery which was a marbled room with what looked like statued recesses around the wall which turned out to be clever paintings with a 3D effect.
The mansion was sumptuously decked out in its Regency finery and in the rooms were sheets of notes which provided information. Even in rooms which were in the process of being restored and refurbished we were able to go through and see the progress being made. Volunteers could be found at various places around the house who were happy to answer any questions. We spent a couple of very interesting hours going round the house packed with family histories on each floor. This was possible for Titania and Richard as there was a lift which the volunteer staff at the mansion made available to us. Restrictions are in place to use the lift, specifically some powered wheelchairs or mobility scooters will not fit in it. If in doubt about the accessibility of the Mansion it is best to contact the property before visiting.
By the time we emerged from inside the rain had gone and the sun was trying to dry out the grounds. Initially we went around the front of the mansion admiring the vastness of the building. The mansion entrance is especially impressive with four massive columns supporting the ornate portico, all looking out over the uninterrupted horizon.
Time for a walk out there around the grounds. There were a couple of circular walks which we could have tried. One, the World War II walk, crossed a bridge over the river Tern and went through the deer park before re-crossing the river further upstream and joining the woodland walk. The leaflet we picked up when we entered explained that this walk was about 2.5 miles on uneven paths which sometimes become muddy as they would certainly be on this soggy day. The shorter loop, the Mile Walk, had mostly level paths which were advertised as “suitable for wheelchairs”. This route stayed on this side of the Tern and following the path beside the river and it was this we chose.
The path, while dotted with the occasional puddle, what solid and easy going for Titania. The trail found the river and followed alongside it. Daffodils brightened the banks. Eventually this path too joined the woodland walk where the paths were equally good, although there were a few more puddles.
The woodland walk eventually led past the walled garden, so we decided to compare and contrast with the garden we had seen at Croome the previous day. It was smaller but still quite large at two and a half acres. It appeared to have had more time and manpower in its restoration from its previously abandoned state with more planting in the beds and growth in the orchards.
There was a gardeners room we could look round, and the walled garden’s focal point, the dipping pond, had been made into a memorial to the gardeners who had left to fight in the Great War and never returned.
We left gardens and completed our walk finding ourselves back at the stables, a large courtyard, mainly tarmac but beware of the occasional cobbled area. Here there were shops, toilets, exhibits of historic stable stalls and most importantly, somewhere to get a cream tea.
We had enough time left to partake of the said cream tea before heading back to Shrewsbury to clean off the mud and spruce ourselves up for the evening’s wedding reception. Attingham Park had a lot to offer both in and around the mansion itself, and in the walks and gardens. Titania had found few obstacles so, despite the weather in the morning, a good time was had Out there.
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Richard & Di
20th March 2017