Access review at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is one of the most treasured gardens in the UK. Based near Mevagissey in mid Cornwall, the garden has been welcoming visitors from all over the world since it was restored and opened to the public twenty five years ago.

In early summer 2015 we were commissioned to undertake a site-wide access review - we were the folks in raincoats, laden with maps and survey forms and taking an unusual interest in drainage gulleys, heights of seats, design of steps, clarity of signs and information and the like. The aim was to help make this beautiful garden welcoming and engaging for all visitors, regardless of their age and ability.

Entrance to the Lost Gardens of HeliganVisitors enjoying Heligan gardens

While the main job of a review is to draw attention to issues that limit the experience for people with disabilities, we understand the importance of resolving these in ways that are sensitive to the qualities that make Heligan such a treasured place for visitors and staff.

The review used our access chain to follow the journey of a visitor, from arrival to parking and enjoyment of the different areas of the gardens. It highlights barriers that get in the way of people enjoying their visit, and recommends actions to remove them. It also identifies potential opportunities to engage people through the different senses - of particular value to people who don’t have sight as their primary sense, but also a great way to enrich the experience for everyone.

Welcoming the report's findings, the Heligan team are already using it to make improvements. We're struck with how this project has been so positively welcomed and we look forward to helping the Heligan team move things forward. Everyone should have the chance to enjoy this beautiful garden.

The review led on to us working together to create a sensory trail, using our new Sensory Trail Markers.

Sensory Trust's sensory trail at Heligan gardensSensory Trust's trail marker

Interested in an access audit?

Sensory Trust undertakes access audits for heritage and contemporary venues. Read more about our access audit consultancy >>


Access Chain - a tool for reviewing access from the user's perspective

Outdoor access design factsheets - free guidance

Access statements - samples for you to use

What is inclusive design? How an inclusive approach makes places better for everyone.

Accessible information design - why it matters and who it benefits