The Hirsel Estate offers history, beautiful woodland, riverside and lakeside walks, an abundance of bird life, famous highland cattle, a museum, a craft centre where crafters can be seen at work, a welcoming café and a golf course known for its outstanding beauty. Accessibility for those less mobile has been created in many areas, details of which are in the body of my review and in my Accessibility Summary at the end of the review.
The Hirsel Estate comprises of 3,000 acres situated in beautiful countryside on the ourskirts of the little town of Coldstream which marks the border between England and Scotland.
The Hirsel is the seat of The Earls of Home who took ownership of Tthe Hirsel in 1611. The Home family have served both the local and national community – with Sir Alec Douglas-Home (14th Earl of Home) serving as Prime Minister in the early 1960's. The Hirsel is currently under the stewardship of David, the 15th Earl of Home and his immediate family. The historic house The Hirsel, the family home is not open to the public but the Estate is open for all to enjoy.
We visited The Hirsel Estate in April. Entering the Estate, we drove along the long driveway lined with daffodils. The driveway provides views of the adjoining beautiful golf course and the surrounding rolling countryside.
Entrance to The Estate costs £2.50 a car. Blue Badge Holders gain free entry.
The Car Park with a designated blue badge area is close to the Reception Area, Café, Museum, Craft Area and WC and there is level access to all these areas.
The large lake which is opposite the car park caught our eye. The lake is surrounded by woodland carpeted with Spring Bulbs. There is seating around the lake and we took time to sit, relax and enjoy the scenery and watch life on the lake. Over 170 species of birds have been identified in the lake and woodland area.
There are a variety of walks available for various abilities. These walks are detailed on posters near the car park. As I have reduced mobility and need a walking stick we took a walk turning right from the car park, this walk is on a level surface. Our walk took us past the lake woodland and fields and allowed us the opportunity to see the famous Douglas Highland Cattle.
On our return from our walk we stopped at The Cottage Tearoom. The Tearoom has level access, is furnished with pine tables and Country Cottage style decoration, we enjoyed a welcome scone and coffee. There was a variety of sandwiches, baked potatoes with different fillings, three types of soups, cakes and biscuits on the menu. Sandwiches cost around £4.65 per person, Baked Potatoes £5.55 and Soup £3.85. The Staff were friendly and will cater for special dietary requirements. For those wishing to eat outside there are plenty of exterior tables and chairs to make this possible.
There is a Gift shop selling a variety of Northumbrian and Scottish gifts. The Craft Centre is housed in a series of workshops in what appears to look like former farm buildings. Crafters can be seen at work. There are ceramics, glassware, candles, textiles silverware to name just a few. There is level access to the Craft Centre.
The Museum is also housed in former farm buildings built around a courtyard. The museum provides a historical background on how people worked on the estate and how different departments and operations affected each other.
Access to the Museum buildings is level although there are small sections of cobbles) As you open the door the display is immediately in front of you, you do not need to go inside it can be clearly viewed from the doorway or just inside the doorway where in most cases a seat is provided. The models in the display are life size. The flooring immediately inside the doorway which is a tiny area is in some parts a bit uneven but this does not reduce accessibility into seeing the display as you do not need to go fully into each area to see the display
There is part of the Museum where ' A year at The Hirsel is illustrated. This area of the museum is larger and is accessible to those with poorer mobility with ramps being in place and a wider entrance.
A children's playground can be found in the centre of The Courtyard.
The Hirsel Estate is open seven days a week during daylight. The Tea room is open 10am – 4.30 pm. Our visit in April allowed us to enjoy the sights of Spring arriving. Locals say May is a special time to visit when the Rhododendrons and Azaleas close to Dundock Wood on The Estate produce a kaleidoscope of colour and scent, so we may well visit again in May.
The Hirsel Estate is just outside Coldstream. Coldstream lies on the Scottish bank of the River Tweed. A stone bridge dividies the two countries. As you cross the bridge into Coldstream you pass the Toll House/Marriage House. Once upon a time Coldstream rivalled Gretna Green as a marriage venue for runaways!. Coldstream has a main high street which houses shops and cafes. Although, inland, The Hirsel Estate is not far from the spectacular Berwickshire and Northumbrian Coastlines dotted with magnificent castles, rugged cliffs and unspoilt beaches which the north eastern coast is so well known for.
Accessibility summary: Dedicated disabled car parking. Level Access to Museum, wheelchair accessible WC, Tearoom, craft workshops, gift shop. Level walk (other walks for varying abilities are shown on posters). Friendly, helpful staff. Seating thoughout the estate. Clean signage. Dietary requirements met. Guide/Assistance dogs welcome.