A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Accessibility in Guildford

Guildford sits in beautiful Surrey County and makes an excellent day trip from London. It’s home to a cathedral, castle, the classic English High Street, and rolling hills.

In other words, you can enjoy Guildford’s many great attractions without the ultra-packed streets of central London.

In this guide, I’ll offer an overview of wheelchair accessibility in Guildford to help you enjoy this charming town to the fullest.

Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Guildford, I’d love to hear about your time there in the comments section. I appreciate it, and I’m sure our future readers will too.

Getting to Guildford From London

The Friary shopping center in Guildford.
The Friary shopping mall, which we’ll use as a reference point during this post.

Before we dive into the wheelchair accessible things to do in Guildford, let’s talk about how to get there from London.

You have three options:

  • Driving
  • Train
  • Bus

To give you context, downtown Guildford sits on a hill. The bottom of the hill is where the train station, river, and Friary shopping mall are located.

From these places, the main center of Guildford is located uphill.

Driving to Guildford

The time it takes to drive from London to Guildford varies on the time of day, whether you’re traveling on a weekday or weekend, and where in London you’ll be traveling from.

Expect anywhere from a 45-minute to a two or more hour drive.

In most cases, the train is faster. However, if you decide to go by car and don’t have your own vehicle, you can call an accessible cab.

Guildford sits in Surrey county, which is dubbed an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” So, whether you go by train, car, or bus, you’ll get to enjoy the scenery of green rolling hills and other stunning countryside views.

You might even see windmills. The United Kingdom is home to 8,000 wind turbines, making it one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world.

Travel Tip: All licensed, black taxis in London are wheelchair accessible. So, you can hail an accessible cab off the street.

Wheelchair Accessible Parking in Guildford

The uppermost part of High Street in Guildford, making it easier to roll down by wheelchair from here.
The uppermost part of High Street in Guildford.

Parking is a challenge in London, and Guildford is no exception.

However, there are several parking lots around downtown Guildford. Below are some of the most notable:

  1. Bedford Road Car Park is located by The Friary shopping mall at the base of the hill. It’s a great starting point for exploring Guildford.
  2. Tunsgate Car Park is located closer to downtown Guildford. This is a good option if you want to park near the castle.
  3. Upper High Street Car Park is located in the topmost part of town. From here, it’ll be a downhill stroll through Guildford. If someone else is driving and you’re a manual wheelchair user, they could pick you up at the bottom of town after you finish your explorations so that you don’t have to push uphill.

You can view details about accessible parking lots in Guildford on Guildford Borough’s website. Here, they list every accessible parking lot in Guildford, the number of accessible spaces in each parking lot, and a PDF map.

Bus to Guildford

It may not sound as glamorous as driving or taking the train, but arriving in Guildford by bus is an excellent way to travel.

What makes it so great?

The buses are accessible and all bus travel is free for wheelchair users.

The most convenient bus stop to get off at is the Friary Bus Station. From there, you’ll be able to explore downtown Guildford without using any other form of transportation.

A beautiful building along High Street in Guildford with a wheelchair accessible ramp.
A beautiful building along High Street in Guildford. Note the ramp on the left side.

The ramp is located at the front door of the bus, making it easy for the driver to assist you if needed.

Train to Guildford

Whereas the tube in London offers relatively good accessibility, traveling to Guildford requires taking the Overground.

Many, but not all, Overground stations are wheelchair accessible. Guildford is one of the stations that’s (mostly) accessible. A steep underground ramp leads to all platforms at the Guildford Train Station.

All trains have an accessible carriage. However, there’s a raised gap between the trains and the platform.

Therefore, the train staff will set up a ramp for you. You can indicate your need for a ramp in advance if you book your ticket online, or you can request assistance upon your arrival.

A wheelchair accessible sign pointing to downtown Guildford and the Guildford Train Station.

It’s important to note that only the Walnut Tree Close side of the Guildford station is wheelchair accessible.

That’s the side of the station that leads to downtown Guildford, so it’s unlikely you’d need to use the other entrance, which is Guildford Park Road.

Wheelchair Accessible Restrooms in Guildford

Wheelchair accessible bathroom in Guildford.

Two accessible restrooms with no key required are located at The Friary. The first restroom is on Level 1 near Zara Home. The other is at Costa Coffee on Level 2, provided you buy something from there.

The Guildford Train Station and other public restrooms throughout Guildford have accessible restrooms by means of the Radar Key system. For a small fee and with proof of a disability ID, you can pick up a Radar Key from the Guildford Tourist Centre.

The Guildford Tourist Centre will also be able to help you with any accessible questions you may have.

Not only will the Radar Key give you unlimited, independent access to wheelchair-accessible restrooms throughout Guildford, but you can use it at over 9,000 restroom locations in the United Kingdom.

Wheelchair Accessible Things To Do in Guildford

For being such an old town (it had settlers before AD 980), Guildford is quite well adapted for wheelchair users. Below are some of the highlights of things to do as a wheelchair user in Guildford.

1. Stroll Along High Street

A pretty view of the buildings on High Street.

If you only do one activity in Guildford, it should be exploring High Street.

To be fair, there are two main streets in Guildford—North Street and High Street. However, North Street is shorter, with fewer charming shops and cafes, and ultimately wraps around to High Street.

North Street in Guildford.
North Street in Guildford.

High Street starts at the base of the hill, near The Friary, and runs uphill. The incline is mild to medium, so some manual wheelchair users may need help pushing.

High Street is lined with shops, so if you’re pushing on your own, you’ll likely have plenty of breaks built in as you explore them. Most shops have barrier-free entrances.

Travel Tip: Consider wandering down the narrow side streets leading away from High Street. You’ll encounter cobblestone in some areas, but the sightseeing is likely worth it.

A sidestreet veering off from High Street.
A side street veering off from High Street.

A smooth, wheelchair-friendly sidewalk runs on either side of High Street beside the shops. The street itself is made up of cobblestone brick. Drop curbs are on every corner.

Example #1 of the sidewalks and cobblestone on Guildford's High Street.
Example #1 of the sidewalks and cobblestone on Guildford’s High Street.
 Example #2 of the sidewalks and cobblestone on Guildford's High Street.
Example #2 of the sidewalks and cobblestone on Guildford’s High Street.

It’s common for there to be musicians on the sidewalk, and markets can be found on the weekends. When there are markets, the stalls are located directly on the street, most facing toward the cobblestone.

Musicians performing on High Street.
Musicians performing on High Street.

This means the sidewalk will be free for you to use, but you’ll need to roll along the cobblestone if you want to shop at the market.

That said, as you may have gathered from these photos, the cobblestone on High Street in Guildford isn’t as atrocious as in some places in Europe.

2. Guildford Castle

A view of the Guildford Castle.

Exploring the Guildford Castle grounds is an absolute must for park lovers.

The castle is an easy stroll from High Street, towards the bottom of the hill. Exploring the castle grounds is free and a paved path will lead you through gardens, pieces of castle ruins, and viewpoints over Guildford.

A wheelchair accessible path at the Guildford Castle grounds.

Unfortunately, Guildford Castle itself isn’t accessible.

If you’re traveling with non-wheelchair users, they can enter the castle for a small fee. There’s an accessible ramp that leads about halfway up to the castle entrance, which is where you can enjoy low viewpoints over Guildford.

You’ll encounter a short, uphill climb when entering the castle grounds. Once you’re near the castle, the area has gentle slopes.

The Guildford Castle grounds.

Both the castle and castle grounds are small. Allow around 15 to 20 minutes to explore them at a leisurely pace.

Since it’s unlikely you’ll find Guildford Castle on a tourist map outside of Surrey County, you just may have the entire place to yourself.

The Guildford Castle and grounds’ hours of operation can vary depending on the time of year you visit. However, you can pretty much be guaranteed it will be open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Sunday.

3. Spend Time by River Wey

River Way in downtown Guildford.

A narrow portion of River Wey flows through Guildford, between The Friary and the Guildford Train Station.

You’ll cross the bridge over it if you travel between the train station and downtown Guildford. The bridge has a wide pedestrian sidewalk and is where I took the photo above.

If you love nature, exploring River Wey is a great option. The path is mostly composed of tightly packed dirt, so you’ll likely only want to partake in this activity on a dry day.

4. The Three Pigeons

An outside view of The Three Pigeons pub.

The Three Pigeons pub was built in the 18th century and is still serving food and drinks to warm up its customers on chilly days. As is the case for many buildings on High Street, The Three Pigeons is said to be haunted.

The pub has a flat entry, although a little squeezing will need to be done due to the two doors that open close together.

Once inside, the ground floor of The Three Pigeons is wheelchair accessible.

Ready to Visit Guildford?

A side street in Guildford with moss covered brick buildings.

Guildford is an excellent village to escape the crowded streets of London.

Do you have questions about wheelchair accessibility in Guildford? Or have you already traveled to Guildford as a wheelchair user? Leave a comment below with your questions and advice.

P.S.- Looking for other day trip ideas from London? Check out our guide on 12 Wheelchair Accessible Things to do in Oxford, A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Canterbury, and Wheelchair Accessibility at the White Cliffs of Dover.

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