Monday, 14 March 2016

Adventures at Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames

Saturday was Disabled Access Day 2016.

So here's a blog about accessing Greys Court, in Henley.

I'd been feeling a little 'cooped up' with work for the past week, so when V suggested a trip to Greys Court for walk in the woods, I jumped at the chance!

It wasn't clear from the website whether you had to pay the entrance fee to go on the 'Estate Walk' through the woodland (it turned out we did) but the website clearly showed that it was a 'style free' walk.

It looked the perfect place to take my Extreme X8 off-road power chair. Or possibly the perfect place for it to take me!

As we drove in, the ladies at the gate informed us that we couldn't go on the estate walk as it had 'kissing gates'. They strongly advised avoiding the woods and having a short stroll across a field, and in the main gardens.

I was hugely disappointed. I do like formal gardens, but I had my heart set on a walk in the woods.

We pondered our options. Whilst enjoying the view.
 
The map said there was a fair distance before we reached the first kissing gate - why not just see how far we could go, and enjoy the journey?

So we did.

Down steep tracks (V took this pic from about 4m ahead of me - the track so steep that her head was below the level of my wheels!) - Using the 'tilt' feature of the chair I stayed sitting at a comfortable angle while the wheels climbed down the steep slope.

Through muddy sections

Over tree roots, through deep, soggy, 'steal your wellies' level of muddiness.

Oh the bliss! I was like a 3 year old who'd discovered the joy of puddles - only it was the joy of mud! Leaving poor V trying to find a safe way through.


Apparently walking on my tracks worked fairly well.


And her moment of glee at 'Haha, I can take a short cut' quickly turned into my moment of glee at 'Haha, so can I!'

After a while we realised we were doing the walk the opposite way round to the signs...and we got a little lost..not like bad lost, just like 'no idea where the official path we are supposed to be on is' lost.

This turned out to be a good thing. We found ourselves on a country road for about 20 metres, before rediscovering the proper path again - by pure chance we'd totally avoided the 'kissing gates'!

The walk was totally not 'wheelchair suitable' - but was perfectly 'off roader' suitable. A couple of times I looked at a steep, slippery, muddy section of path, with added tree roots, I thought "I'll try, but I may have to turn and go back". Only to discover that with careful driving the X8 could indeed take me places that I long ago gave up as 'unreachable'.

Plus the bonus where I can use the seat raiser to get me to 'tree climbing height' - so I can crawl/slide off the chair directly into the tree.

After a lovely lunch in the cafe - where I could drive my big off roader right up to a table (although I didn't try getting to the counter in it), we headed home. But not before exchanging email addresses with a member of staff so I could send them info on this powerchair!

We'll be going back again when the bluebells are out.

I can't wait!


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