We were kindly invited to Westonbirt Arboretum last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing autumn stroll among 15,000 trees from around the globe. This article will provide tips for visiting Westonbirt Arboretum, to ensure you make the most of your day.
The National Arboretum is one of the finest tree collections in the world, it is cared for by the Forestry Commission. It was originally planted by a wealthy family during the Victorian period. The attraction promises on its website ‘to delight the senses throughout the autumn period – from September to November – with peak leaf-peeping time being the month of October’ and we were certainly not disappointed. The autumn colours last weekend were developing at a fabulous pace and although there was a large crowd at the entrance, the popular attraction was not crowded once we were inside and we were able to stroll leisurely, stopping frequently to explore, play in the leaves, find conkers and build dens!
Our tips for families visiting Westonbirt Arboretum
Great attraction for all seasons
The beauty of the arboretum is that it is a different experience each time you visit due to the colour of the trees. Autumn is particularly stunning however, each season has something to offer. In addition to the trails, the attraction also runs events throughout the year including the very popular annual festive event – Enchanted Christmas. We plan on attending for the first time this year to experience the one mile illuminated trial, visit Father & Mrs Christmas and enjoy the Christmas market stalls with festive drinks and treats.
Although there are a few indoor attractions you will be outside for the majority of the time. Dress appropriately, wear sensible shoes and do not forget your camera! The paths are a little bumpy but families with pushchairs should not find it too strenuous on the paths.
Bikes permitted for little ones
Parents will be pleased to know that Westonbirt have recently clarified their bike policy and children’s bikes, scooters and other wheeled toys are now permitted if they are less than 75cm in height. (This is great news for parents with toddlers who refuse to go in a pushchair!)
There is obviously plenty of space to spread out a picnic blanket if you wish to take along your own food however, there are plenty of refreshment options at the attraction too including outdoor stalls and the Westonbirt Restaurant which has highchairs, a children’s menu and bottle warming facilities.
Develop your tree knowledge
The attraction offers free guided walks for guests who wish to learn more about the different species of trees. They also offer an interactive map. Check out the website for more details.
Get ready for an adventure!
When visiting with children make sure you pick up a child’s map, available for free from inside the visitors center. The child’s map highlights all the nooks and crannies waiting to be explored and enables you to easily find all the natural play features which are not shown on the regular adults map.
Highlights of our visit to Westonbirt Arboretum
We most enjoyed the freedom our boys could experience at Westonbirt. They thoroughly appreciated the feeling of space and discovering new areas to explore. The natural playground near the education centre was a big hit, as was coming face to face with the Gruffalo. We spent a considerable amount of time building dens and wooden homes, exploring tree roots, following the stepping stones through the forest and walking along the felled giant.
Images – Natural playground, playing in leaves, climbing trees, building dens and using the stepping stones!
Would we visit again?
Yes absolutely! As mentioned above, we intend to return to experience Westonbirt in a completely different light (literally!) by visiting for the Enchanted Christmas event. We thoroughly recommend Westonbirt Arboretum as a fabulous place to visit for families who have children who love exploring the great outdoors.
We would be cautious in recommending Westonbirt to parents whose children need constant entertainment. The National Arboretum obviously does not compare to other popular local attractions such as Cotswolds Farm Park and Cotswolds Wildlife Park however, if your children love den building, climbing trees, collecting conkers and viewing wild birds then this is the place to visit for your family day out! We also recommend regular checks of the website as new attractions are being added all the time, they are currently constructing a Treetop Walkway which is due to open in January 2016 and a tree management centre is also currently being constructed as a new home for teaching visitors about trees.
Need to know
Location -Westonbirt, Tetbury GL8 8QS. Just three miles from Tetbury in the south Cotswolds. Cost of admission from now to November 2015: Adult £9, Child (5-18) £4. December 2015 – February 2016: Adult £6, Child (5-18) £2. The Enchanted Christmas event cost extra – see website for further details.
Have you visited Westonbirt Arboretum? Can you add any additional tips?