Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden at South Walsham, in the heart of the Broads, is now 100% accessible to visitors with mobility difficulties.
A new bird hide designed for visitors with disabilities, overlooking Fairhaven’s private broad, was officially opened on March 21 by Jo Murphy (pictured), a Fairhaven Garden member who uses a mobility scooter to get around the garden’s 3½ miles of paths.
The new bird hide was funded by an access and outdoor learning project supported by Broadland District Council Community Fund, the Broads Sustainable Development Fund and gift aid donations from visitors.
The bird hide features a solar powered audio interpretation panel, which tells visitors the names of key bird species, and gives them an example of their birdsong. A similar audio panel operated by a wind up dynamo has been installed in an older bird hide on site.
The project is also funding the creation of an open-air classroom with a willow tunnel, is supporting the development of outdoor learning activities for families and schools, like the ‘Busy Bird I Spy Week’ from March 31 to April 7. It has paid for improvements to paths and the car park, with new designated parking bays for visitors with disabilities. A ‘nest box cam’ with a live feed to a monitor in the tearoom should be completed in time for the main breeding season.
Louise Rout, Fairhaven Garden Manager said: "The whole team at Fairhaven is really pleased that we have achieved 100% accessibility. We have worked hard over a number of years to ensure that all visitors can enjoy the beauty of the garden. My predecessor, George Debbage, established a sensory garden in 2006. It has matured superbly and offers an excellent introduction to Fairhaven. We opened a new tearoom in 2008, which was designed with disabled visitors in mind. But now that we are fully accessible, it means that visitors of all abilities can get around the whole garden and enjoy the full experience."
"I would particularly like to thank Broadland District Council and the Broads Authority for their support," added Louise Rout, "along with our visitors whose gift aid donations have been crucial."
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is at South Walsham, nine miles east of Norwich, signposted off A47 at B1140 junction, http://www.fairhavengarden.co.uk/, tel. 01603 270449. Garden entry is adult £5.50, concessions £5 and child £3 (under 5 free).
The garden is open daily all year (closed Christmas Day), free entry to tearoom, gift shop and plant sales. Mobility scooters are available. Dogs are welcome on leads; small charge to cover poop scoop.
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is organic, only garden leaf soil, farmyard manure and the product of the annual dyke clearance are used as fertilisers. There are 30 species of tree, and more than 95 species of bird, 11 species of butterfly and six species of dragonfly have been recorded. The garden was created by the Second Lord Fairhaven from 1947 until his death in 1973. A charitable trust was then set up to care for the garden, and open it to visitors.
Winner of Best Broads Holiday Experience and Best Visitor attraction under 50,000 visitors) EDP Tourism in Norfolk Awards 2011 and Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold Award since 2009.