GRIEVING parents say they have been forced to wade through ankle-deep mud to reach the graves of young loved ones buried in an Exeter cemetery.
Now one has hit out at what she describes as the "appalling state" of the Children's Garden at Higher Cemetery in Heavitree.
The mother, whose own baby is buried in the Children's Garden, said: "Christmas Day was the last straw.
"Having seen the Children's Garden looking a boggy mess for a lot of this year, I thought that this may have been solved when a drain was put in half way down.
"But this only catches the run off because there is no underground drainage to soak up the water from the saturated soil.
"On Christmas Day I went to visit my baby and the entire area was flooded.
"I know there is nothing you can do about the weather and that we have seen an excessive amount of rain – but imagine how I felt when I was trying to tidy up my child's grave stood in mud and water up to my ankles."
The woman, who has asked not to be named, added: "If I had a bigger home with a large garden that I knew I would live in for the rest of my life, I would have my baby exhumed and reburied on my own land."
Christine Trigger, a leading member of the Friends of Higher Cemetery, said: "I do feel really sorry for those people who have loved ones buried there.
"The problem is that the Children's Garden is at the bottom of a slope and all the rain we have had drains off the cemetery paths. We have had exceptional rainfall and there is nowhere to drain the water off.
"It is a matter for the city council who are responsible for the maintenance of Higher Cemetery."
The grieving mother claimed that, other than when an annual planting event was staged, the Children's Garden has been "a mess".
She said: "It seems like they do not cut the grass for months on end, and then when they do mowers are taken right over the top of graves, ripping and smashing up any trinkets and toys in their path, partly because the grass is so long that you cannot see what is beneath. I have seen teddies and flowers strewn across the area, and ornaments smashed to pieces.
"It is upsetting enough as it is to lose a loved one without walking through there each time and thinking how awful it looks and why on earth did I bury my child here?"
No-one from the city council was available for comment.