Wheelchair Accessibility in Guildford: A Complete Guide
Located in beautiful Surrey County, Guildford makes an excellent day trip from London. Home to a cathedral, castle, the classic English High Street, and rolling hills, Guildford offers great attractions without the ultra-packed streets of central London. We’ll breakdown wheelchair accessibility in Guildford so that you can enjoy it to the fullest.
Getting to Guildford from London
Before we get into wheelchair accessible things to do in Guildford, let’s talk about how to get there. You’ve got three options- driving, bus or train.
To give you context for this post, downtown Guildford is built on a hill. The bottom of the hill is where the train station, river, and The Friary shopping mall are located. From there, the main center of Guildford is located uphill.
Travel Tip: Check out our post on the best Wheelchair Accessible Taxis in London.
Driving to Guildford
The time it takes to drive from London to Guildford varies greatly 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 here.
Travel Tip: All licensed, black taxis in London are wheelchair accessible. Therefore, you can hail an accessible cab off the street.
Wheelchair accessible parking in Guildford
Parking is a challenge in London, and Guildford is no exception.
There are a number of parking lots around downtown Guildford. Below are some of the most notable:
- Bedford Road Car Park is located by The Friary shopping mall, at the base of the hill and a great starting point for exploring Guildford.
- Tunsgate Car Park is located deeper into downtown Guildford. This is a good option if you want to park near the castle.
- Upper High Street Car Park is located at 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 offer a PDF map.
Bus to Guildford
It may not sound as glamorous as driving or taking the train, but arriving to 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 having to use any other form of transportation.
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 rather steep, underground ramp leads to all platforms at the Guildford Train Station.
All trains have an accessible carriage. However, there’s a substantial, raised gap between the trains and the platform.
Therefore, the 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.
It’s important to note that only the Walnut Tree Close side of the Guildford Train Station is wheelchair accessible. This is 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
Two accessible restrooms, with no key required, are located at The Friary. The first is on Level 1 near Zara Home. The other is at Costa Coffee on Level 2, provided that 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. We’re impressed!
Wheelchair accessible things to do in Guildford
For being such an old town (it had settlers before AD 980), Guildford is pretty 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
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.
High Street starts at the base of the hill, near The Friary, and runs uphill from there. The incline is mild to medium level, 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 a barrier-free entry.
Travel Tip: Wander down the narrow side streets leading away from High Street. You’ll encounter cobblestone in some areas, but to us, the sightseeing is worth it.
A smooth, wheelchair-friendly sidewalk runs on either side of High Street beside the shops. The street itself is made up of old, cobblestone brick. Drop-curbs are on every corner.
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 towards the cobblestone.
This means that 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 being said, as you may have gathered from our photos, the cobblestone on High Street in Guildford is the milder type.
2. 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 low viewpoints over Guildford.
The Guildford Castle itself is not accessible. If you’ll be traveling with able-bodied people, 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.
There’s a short, uphill climb when entering the castle grounds. Once you’re near the castle, the area has gentle slopes.
Both the castle and castle grounds are small. Allow around 15 – 20 minutes to explore the castle grounds at a leisurely pace.
Since it’s unlikely you’ll find the 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. However, you can pretty much be guaranteed it will be open from 10:00am – 4:00pm, Monday – Sunday.
3. Spend time by River Wey
A narrow portion of River Wey flows through Guildford, between The Friary and the Guildford Train Station.
If passing between the train station and downtown Guildford, you’ll cross the bridge. The bridge has a wide pedestrian sidewalk and is where the photo above was taken.
If you love nature, taking a walk along River Wey is a great option. The path is mostly made up of tightly packed dirt, so be sure to only partake in this activity on a dry day. Speaking from our rainy day experience here!
4. The Three Pigeons
The Three Pigeons pub was built in the 18th century and is still serving food and drinks to warm up people 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 two doors that open close together. Once inside, the ground floor is accessible.
Guildford is the perfect village to escape the crowded streets of London. Do you have questions about wheelchair accessibility in Guildford? Have you already traveled to Guildford as a wheelchair user? Leave a comment below; we’d love to hear from you.
P.S.- Looking for other day trip ideas from London? Check out our post 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.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.