Spread over a hillside overlooking the beautiful North Antrim coast, Carnfunnock Country Park occupies a former country estate that’s been turned into a public park, complete with walking trails, formal gardens, a maze and numerous family-friendly activities.
On arrival at the wheelchair accessible visitor centre, pick up a map of the park, which clearly marks steep slopes and steps. A good place to start exploring is the exquisite walled garden, featuring a butterfly garden, sun dials, a scented garden and plenty of exotic plants. Close by, the maze – designed in the shape of Northern Ireland – will delight children, as will the trampolines, mini cars, treasure hunt trail and excellent adventure playground (which includes equipment for children with special needs) at the activity centre, a short walk south. If that’s not enough, head to the privately run Family Fun Zone, where you’ll find a miniature railway, mini golf course, laser clay pigeon shooting, bungee run and remote-controlled model boats, all at a small charge. The walking trails threading through the park are not all suitable for wheelchairs, but the Biodiversity Trail (0.6 miles) is fully accessible, and offers fine views of Carnfunnock Bay.
Parking is straightforward in one of the five dedicated Blue Badge spaces about twenty yards from the visitor centre, with two extra spaces in the separate activity centre car park. Alternatively, the main lower and upper car parks, situated 130 yards and 230 yards respectively from the visitor centre, are both linked to the centre by hard-surfaced, wheelchair accessible paths. All the walkways linking the park’s main, lower areas are fully accessible, and wheelchair users will have no problem accessing the walled garden and maze. The higher nature trails are not suitable for wheelchairs, though many can be accessed on powered scooters. A Shopmobility scooter can be booked in advance, but on collection you’ll have to present either a Shopmobility Membership Card for Northern Ireland or a Scooter Driving Licence issued by the Disabled Ramblers Northern Ireland. There are dedicated disabled toilets at the visitor centre and activity centre.
Food & drink: The attractive on-site restaurant, Caffé Spice, offers sweeping views from its terrace and a good range of breakfasts, inexpensive snacks (such as scrambled eggs, baked potatoes and burgers), daily specials, a kids’ menu and delicious cakes. Alternatively, there are many picnic sites dotted around the park, many of them fitted with grills on which you can use disposable barbecues. You can also rent a barbecue pit for £12.75.