Accessible, dog-friendly gardens for wellbeing

It’s National Gardens & Health Week (13-21 May 2023) which focuses on enjoying being outdoors in wildlife and nature for mental health and wellbeing, and with the weather warming up we’re looking forward to enjoying the beauty of what’s on offer on our doorstep – particularly dog-friendly venues for our furry family members. This may involve spending more time gardening or even visiting public or open gardens in Ross-on-Wye and Herefordshire for inspiration.

Every year, Ross enjoys celebrating the great outdoors with a series of garden themed events in and around the town. This year, the team from Friends of St Mary’s Church, have worked hard to pull together a great range of events including a BBC style Gardeners’ Question Time on Friday 19 May, and a free Gardens Great & Small art and photography exhibition running until Thursday 8 June (both events at St Mary’s Church). In addition, there will be a Ross Open Gardens weekend on 3-4 June, where you can visit over 20 local gardens around Ross-on-Wye, pick up tips from local gardeners and learn how they designed their living works of art.

Throughout the summer, there are plenty of local public gardens available to explore, most dog-friendly, accessible and many with tea shops where you can enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake whilst you take a break. Here are our top three gardens within driving distance of Ross-on-Wye where you can kick back, relax and enjoy taking in beautiful landscaped gardens, lakes and arboretums.

Hellens Manor

  • About: A 15 minute drive from Ross-on-Wye in Much Marcle, Hellens Manor, a Tudor/Jacobean home, is set in beautiful rural landscape with stunning gardens, tearoom and shop, and holds regular live music and cultural events throughout the year. Take a guided tour or just wander through the gardens set in 150 acres of ancient SSSI woodland, wild flower meadows and trees ranging from Wellingtonias and Blue Atlas Cedars to many rare varieties of fruit trees. In spring the woods are full of wild flowers – daffodils, orchids, anemones and bluebells.
  • Location: Much Marcle, Herefordshire HR8 2LY
  • Contact: 01531 660504 or email
  • Open: Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 10.30am to 5.00pm until 15 October 2023
  • Dog friendly? Yes
  • Accessibility: the majority of areas are accessible, with ramps, wheelchair access and level access to most of the garden.
  • Cost: admission to the gardens and tearoom is free (donations invited – no need to book). 
Hellens Manor

Kentchurch Court

  • About: Listed as one of The Guardian’s ’12 Best Secret Gardens in the UK’, the impressive Kentchurch Court can be found on the other side of Garway Hill, about half an hour’s drive from Ross-on-Wye. This family home of the Lucas-Scudamore family for nearly 1,000 years, sitting in around 5,000 acres, dates back to the 14th century and is considered one of the most important historic houses in Herefordshire. After a stroll around its Rhododendron Wood, Walled Garden and Vegetable Garden, take a welcome break in their pretty tearoom which sells an amazing selection of cakes and bakes. There is also a Deer Park on the estate, although this isn’t open to the public.
  • Location: Pontrilas, Hereford HR2 0DB
  • Contact: 01981 240228
  • Open: from Thursday 1 June 2023, all week from 11.00 to 16.00 including Bank Holidays.
  • Dog friendly? Yes
  • Accessibility: most of the garden is wheelchair friendly
  • Cost: entrance to the garden is £7.50 (June-Sept), £5 at all other times (children free). Cash-only.
Kentchurch Court

Eastnor Castle

  • About: If you’re looking for a great day out with plenty to do for the family and kids, the stunning Eastnor Castle, just 20 minutes’ drive from Ross-on-Wye delivers on every level. Apart from its impressive exotic arboretum – planted between 1852 and 1883 by Lord Somers and boasting one of the best collection of cedars in the UK – this neo-Norman castle dominates the skyline alongside a picturesque lake and deer park. For those interested in its history, the richly decorated interiors contain medieval armour, fine art and tapestries. If you prefer getting lost in nature (literally) the Knight’s Maze will keep you and the younger members of your party busy.
  • Location: Nr Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1RL
  • Contact: 01531 633160
  • Open: daily from April to September 2023 (Grounds 10.30 to 17.30 / Castle: 11.30 to 16.30 with last admission 16.00)
  • Dog friendly? Yes
  • Accessibility: most of the castle estate is wheelchair friendly but check website for details.
  • Cost: Adults £14 / Children £8
Eastnor Castle

For more ideas on places to visit nearby, read our blog on walks for wellbeing here.