A Day at the Westonbirt National Arboretum
The UK is famous for its royal gardens and arboretums. This time around, we decided to spend a day at Westonbirt National Arboretum, Gloucestershire.
Table of Contents
Who doesn’t know the wonders of spending time in nature? Apart from many health benefits, visiting a forest, local park or places with plenty of trees also uplifts our mood. Last year, in the month of October and amidst the pandemic when we were short of outdoor activities, we decided to visit an arboretum. The UK is famous for its royal gardens and arboretums. This time around, we decided to spend a day at Westonbirt National Arboretum, Gloucestershire.
Autumn is a beautiful season in the UK. Though the trees are ready to shed their leaves, but before that, the leaves change from green to an incredible display of vibrant colours. Apart from the beautiful colours of the leaves, Autumn also marks the onset of winters. Trees look magical in the Autumn months, making September, October and November a great time of the year to visit an arboretum.
Read more about our other UK Trips here.
Why should you visit an arboretum?
The main purpose of an arboretum is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Here are a few more reasons why should you visit an arboretum or botanical garden:
- To gain new experience. Not many of us are blessed to live around green spaces or have our own garden. Arboretums are a great place to take a stroll, watch beautiful trees and birds.
- To connect with nature. Botanical gardens the perfect place to connect with nature. Home of many trees, flowers and a variety of plants, they show you the real wonder of nature.
- Education and inspiration. We can learn and identify individual trees as they are labelled and sometimes categorized for study or growth. They play a vital role in providing community education that may include demonstration gardens, classes in subjects like botanical painting, composting, pruning, beekeeping etc.
- Preservation of endangered plants. There are some plant species that need protection. An arboretum is the best place to save these plants for future generations.
- To observe global plant species. As arboretums cultivate a wide variety of trees and shrubs, so there is a good chance to see the trees that are from other places along with native trees.
About Westonbirt National Arboretum
Westonbirt National Arboretum is located in Gloucestershire, England. This Arboretum is managed by Forestry England, and it is very popular and well known in the United Kingdom. Home of 15,000 specimens and 2,500 species of trees from all over the world, the arboretum plays a vital part in research and conservation. It covers over 600 acres of woodland. This arboretum was created almost 200 years ago by Victorian horticulturalists Robert Holford.
Unlike other gardens, the beauty of this arboretum is that its landscape is laid out aesthetically rather than in botanical order.
The arboretum has basically two parts - Old arboretum and the Silkwood arboretum. The tree collection of this arboretum is divided into the following categories:
The national collection includes trees that are safeguarded for future generations like Japanese maple cultivars, maple species, bladdernut, lime, walnut.
Champion trees qualify by being the tallest or having the largest trunk girth, measured at 1.5m off the ground. There are currently 140 champion trees at Westonbirt Arboretum.
Signature trees give Westonbirt Arboretum its unique character! Some of these trees are Incense cedars and Scots pine.
Rare trees are trees that are in danger of disappearing from the planet. Westonbirt has around 100 of these threatened species and their team is working hard to preserve them for future generations. Some of these trees are the sapphire dragon tree and Madeira mountain ash.
Native trees include few Britain native species - only 30-40 - and they can be seen in the ancient Silk Wood.
Tickets for visiting are usually available to book online or at the entrance of the arboretum. Visit their site beforehand for any changes in booking and visiting hours.
There is plenty of information available into the welcome building of this arboretum about Westonbirt’s trees. You can also find helpful information and tips to make the most out of your visit.
Our visit to Westonbirt Arboretum
We visited this arboretum during the month of October. Although the arboretum is open for all seasons, an autumn visit is something you should not miss. Because of COVID restrictions, they were only allowing prebooked entries. We booked online tickets as well for our visit.
We started with the treetop bridge. This is a 300-metre long walkway that took us 13m up into the canopy, on a serpentine journey through the treetops. Walking on this bridge was an awesome experience.
The garden was very well organized. We got a garden map at the entrance and started exploring as per our convenience. Unfortunately, it drizzled throughout the day we visited the arboretum. The rain interrupted our photography activities a bit but otherwise, it was amazing to see the vibrant fall colours. The trails were muddy and my two-year-old daughter enjoyed more than anyone, jumping in muddy puddles here and there on the nature trails. My elder one collected leaves from a variety of trees to show her friends and teacher. She was eagerly reading the names of trees labelled on them.
We really liked the old arboretum. It is wonderfully designed and the trees are much matured and old. The kids had fun with the Gruffalo family sculpture placed around this area.
Silk Wood was a very different experience. We saw some exotic plantings, and traditional working woodland, dating back to the 13th century.
Activities at Westonbirt
The arboretum also offers a wealth of seasonal activities to engage all age groups. Few activities that we can enjoy here are:
If you venture into the deep dark wood in the old arboretum you may bump into the Gruffalo, the Gruffalo’s Child and other characters from the book.
Natural play trails
You can pick up a free family activity map from the Welcome Building when you arrive. There are free activities that kids can enjoy like building a den, clamber over logs, scramble through tyre tunnels, discover the mystical troll bridge and much more on the play trail.
Nature is always an inspiration for human beings for their creative venture. Once you step into the woods - find a place to sit, write a poem, draw a picture, create music or take up a yoga pose.
Outdoors birthday parties
Some kids love outdoor and adventurous birthday parties. This arboretum has facilities to throw a perfect birthday party outdoor.
You can spot birds and butterflies, insects and plant life on the forest floor. They have an app where you can log your findings that will help them protect habitats.
Picture perfect trails
For photographers, this place is bliss - especially in the autumn season. There are several stops along the way for you to pause and click some amazing pictures and capture spectacular views of the arboretum.
Forget about treadmill running. This arboretum has running routes perfect for running and soaking up the natural freshness!
If you really want to witness the magical colours of autumn then this arboretum is the best place to visit. We Absolutely loved this place, and it is a beautiful place to go all year round - tranquil, beautiful trees and loads of space to explore. You could honestly go walking for hours and still find new and beautiful trees.
Let me know
Do you agree that spending time in nature once in a while uplifts our mood? Have you recently visited a nearby botanical garden or local park? Share your experience in the comment section.