One of my favourite local places to visit at this time of year is Westonbirt Arboretum, which is in Gloucestershire about four miles from Tetbury. An Arboretum is a word for a collection of trees and Westonbirt has 15,000 of them including 2,500 different types. The collection was started in 1850 by Robert Holford, a rich Victorian Landlord who owned the estate.
It is now owned by the forestry commission and has 17 miles of accessible trails. The forestry commission have also been busy planting wild flower meadows. They are even carrying out experiments to find out how different varieties of tree will cope with possible climate change. Local naturalists have also identified over 1,000 different types of fungi. Many of the trees were planted during an exciting period of plant hunting when trees and shrubs from all over the globe were introduced to Britain. Unlike other arboreta the landscape was laid out aesthetically rather than putting trees in botanic groups which adds to its beauty.
The Stihl treetop walkway which was recently opened allows you to look down on the trees and it is fully wheelchair accessible. A lift takes disabled visitors to the top. Electric scooters are available for hire but need to be pre booked. Dogs on leads are allowed in the silk wood area.
There are a lot of activities for children including a chance to spot the Gruffulo and several play zones so children can climb and scramble. There is also an outdoor classroom which can be used by schools and a bird hide. A large gift shop sells a wide range of countryside books, gifts and toys. From 1st of December 2019 until February 29th 2020 there will be a Shaun the sheep Glow trail.
Food and Drink
Westonbirt has a good restaurant which serves hot and cold food, a snack bar with outdoor seating and a picnic area with benches and tables for people to bring their own food.
Autumn is my favourite time to visit when the woods are full of reds and yellows. The foresters waymark a special Autumn tints trail so you won’t miss the most colourful trees particularly the Acers.
However there are activities throughout the year including Christmas when the staff decorate some of the trees with fairy lights and children can meet Father Christmas. The woodsmen also hose down the trunks of the silver birches to give the woods a magical feel and Christmas gifts are on sale.
In summer the woods are full of colourful azaleas and rhodedendrons.
Admission is £10.00 for adults and £4.00 for children.
More details can be found here:Westonbirt arboretum
The site also has a guide to download in French, German or Japanese.
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