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Friday, 23 April 2021

Nunnington Hall (National Trust)

This was the first of three days out, which I planned and booked. Because of Covid, almost all days out have to be booked in advance now. In some ways, I quite like it, as it makes you plan in more detail and days don't get wasted, deciding what to do. On the other hand, it means you can't have a few options and then see what the weather is like.

We're National Trust members, so this is usually our first port of call for days out. We're staying not far from Beningbrough Hall and Gardens. We've been there before and liked it, so it was tempting to go back. However, it's always good to try somewhere new, and the site webpage recommended Nunnington Hall, so that's where we went.

It was pretty easy to find and is in the Howardian Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). As we drove there, it was easy to see how that got designated! Like most National Trust places, once we got near, it was well signposted. The car park had a good accessible parking area, though the ground there, and in the gardens, would have been tricky in my normal chair. I had done my homework though, and brought my mountain trike, so I was fine.

Entry into the grounds is over a beautiful footbridge over the River Rye. 

Wooden footbridge over a river, surrounded by trees.

As always, our first stop was toilets. I have to say, this was possibly the weirdest layout of an accessible toilet I have ever seen! The room was a funny shape and the toilet was kind of trapped in a narrow bit down one end. The grab rail then blocked off the rest of the room and was way too far from the toilet. On the plus side, if you have a disabled child, the toilet seat had a kiddy seat built in, like an extra fold down device. Also good was hot water, decent soap and hand towels (as the hand dryer didn't work).

At the moment, because of Covid restrictions, the actual hall is closed but the gardens are open. I sort of expected the gardens to be more like grounds... They're not, it's just gardens. They were beautiful and really interesting but we didn't get the kind of walk we'd hoped for. There was some interesting information though and it was quite quirky. I was quite tickled by this sign, which for a wheelchair user, or any small person, sort of blocked the photo opportunity. I was happy to have it in the pic though.

A large blackboard easel on a lawn with large lettering saying: this is a great photo opportunity.

Photo of Nunnington Hall with the blackboard sign in the foreground.

At first, it felt a bit wrong walking on the grass. Usually these sorts of places have paths that you have to stick to. This was all grass and the paths were mowed rather than meadowy. It was actually really nice and felt more natural, though would have been a nightmare in my other chair. There were natural ramps in most areas, though some steps to reach the top part. Neil went and explored that on his own while Liggy and I took a training opportunity on the main lawn, doing some nice zigzag walking.

Then, I decided to do a spot of mountain trike training (Neil keeps telling me to 'trust my kit', which is easier said than done) and went zooming down the main slope, in manner of small child, and had lots of fun... several times.

Side view of me zooming down the hill, with my mouth wide open, shouting AAAGGGGHHHHH!

Me in my mountain trike with Liggy, my black labrador sitting by my side. We're on the big lawn with the Halls in the background.

We generally try to support the National Trust by using their cafe or buying something from their shop. Nunnington Hall didn't have a shop but we had a cuppa in the back outdoor cafe area. It was well set out with picnic tables, about half having a seat missing for wheelchairs. They were spaced out and had parasols up, which was great, as it was really sunny and warm. 

The highlight (and another training opportunity for Liggy) was a huge peacock that was strutting around the area. It was so tame! Liggy is gun dog bred, and has inherited a serious chase instinct. Usually it is leaves, which she has learnt to leave over time... but big birds, which are less common around us than leaves, are still a challenge. She's yet to learn that picking a fight with a goose or a swan will probably end worse for her than the bird. So I was ready for battle! I needn't have worried though. She must have decided this bird was out of her league, as she was calmer than usual. Either that, or she was just heat exhausted.

Close up photo of a male peacock with a dazzling blue neck and magnificent tail feathers, which he unfortunately didn't display fully.

At lunchtime, I continued my determination to get braver about eating outdoors, and we sat at a picnic table by the river and enjoyed our lunch there. I'd baked bread rolls on Monday morning, before we left... a new recipe... and they were delicious! Liggy was very happy to lie on her bed and sunbathe whilst we ate.

Liggy, my black labrador, lying on a blue mat next to my trike. Her tongue is out, panting, as it is really sunny and hot.

It was a pleasant enough morning and interesting to see a new NT property in such a lovely area... but it didn't exactly fill the day, so we then went for a drive and visited a few other towns and villages.

Monochrome photo of Nunnington Hall with large bushes in front and a large gravel courtyard.

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