Much of this park is accessible to scooters, manual wheelchairs and walkers with limited mobility, also present is a disabled toilet requiring a radar key. A circular walk is described here, covering 3-4 miles, dependent on the number of excursions off the main route. The area includes parkland, specimen trees, grassland, meadow, mixed woodland, copse, walled garden, river, stream and marsh habitats.
Distance:1.2 (One Way) miles
Point of interest:The varied natural environment
Nearest town:Belfast (Dunmurray)
OS map:Sheet 15
Terrain:Tarmac paths throughout
Route:Entry to the lower car park is through gates and past a lodge on your right. At the junction, turn left and swing around to the disabled parking bays to the side of the stables. The ramble starts from here: circular ramble to Wilmont House and back.
At the junction go left (right goes to the main road). Straight on, up the long, fairly gentle slope. The children’s playground accessible by a ramped path is to your left. The path continues to Wilmont House. In front of this is a narrow tarmac path, follow this to the junction. Turn right along this yew hedged path. Just before the small black gate you have 2 alternatives.
Turn left and continue to a high modern fence and gates. Turn right, before you is a steep tarmac downward path followed by an equally steep upward gravel path. Straight on is a gloomy, shrubby tunnel. Pass through the 5 barred gate. Continue on around another wall of the garden. At the junction turn right (the left is a dead end). To the right is entry to the walled garden (see 4). You omit (5), go to (6). Note – this part of the ramble is fairly challenging/ demanding.
Continue on through the black gate to the Golden Crown Fountain. (Grade 1: Easy) (4) – To the left is a short narrow tarmac path leading to a splendid walled garden. There is presently a 1 inch threshold step, which should present no difficulty. The garden paths are narrow and gravelled but you can ramble round the perimeter though they do slope somewhat towards the back of the stables.
(5) If you followed Alternative A you may take the left hand side path at the fountain. This takes you past an old red brick building. Take the path along its side through a wooded area. About turn: return the way you came (avoiding in front of you the steep slopes mentioned in Alternative A).
(6) Return to Wilmont House and take the narrow left hand path to the back of the house.
Part 2: The Rose Gardens
This ramble starts at the rear of Wilmont House and takes in the various rose bed sections. This part of the ramble is undertaken largely over a firm grass surface though paths around the toilet block cover part of the layout.
Those wishing to follow this option should follow the broad path which swings to the right to the rear of Wilmont House. At the toilet block veer right down a fairly steep slope. At the bottom is a path to the right, which leads to the (grassed) Irish Heritage section and beyond. Return and pick up the broad path past the Japanese Garden (inaccessible because of steep steps) and on down the narrower tarmac path on your left hand side. This leads to the Dickson Rose patio and beyond over grass to the rose beds.
Much of the area is very hummocky/hilly with some quite daunting steep slopes so that only confident scooter riders, sure of their balance may feel comfortable and safe. These sloped areas are largely inaccessible to pushed wheelchairs though there are quite a number of level spaces, which a strong pusher could manage and a scooter could handle. Overall there is plenty to see (and smell).
No specific route is recommended; visitors must exercise their good judgement as to what they want to see and where to go.
Both parts of the ramble would take 3-4 hours for scooters and more for pushed wheelchairs.
Facilities:Car parking, cafe (check opening), toilets for disabled
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:Wide tarmaced paths throughout, other than around the rose gardens (grass).
Scooter: 1 (easy) Part of the route around the rose gardens is over grass and prudence must be exercised. There are also steps in various places.
Manual wheelchair/ walking: 2 moderately easy but there are inclines/ fairly steep slopes. Pushing by one person would be a considerable challenge. For the duration of Rose Week in July of each year Shopmobility Belfast provides free use of scooters to get about.
Publication:Out 'n' bout: A New Frontier
Getting to the start by public transport:Dixon Park lies on the southern outskirts of Belfast at Dunmurry. Admission is by the lower car park on the Upper Malone Road.