Westonbirt Arboretum is approximately 3 miles southwest of Tetbury, Gloucester and is managed by Forest England. It is one of the most important and well-known arboretums in the UK.
It is also known as National Arboretum UK and this title is certainly well-deserved.
The first time I visited Westonbirt Arboretum was on a crisp, clear, autumn day in November a few years ago.
To say it blew my mind is an understatement.
The National Arboretum of Westonbirt is the most beautiful space I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
I am in awe of what has been achieved here and what continues to be achieved.
The whole Arboretum is a credit to it’s carers.
It is the largest collection of trees and shrubs from all over the world in the UK, and is found deep in the rolling countryside of the Cotswolds, in itself AONB. (An Area Of National Outstanding Beauty)
I find the place very emotive, the grandness of it all overwhelms my senses.
I love trees and here I am surrounded by beautiful, majestic specimens such as oaks, chestnut, maple, cedars and many many more.
There are several lovely areas to see during a visit here, including Silk wood, the Old Arboretum, maple glade and the tree walk
As I enter the maple glade through Silk wood a most profound sense of peace envelops me, this feeling is so strong it has sometimes brought a few tears.
It’s as though the trees can speak to you and they have an extremely calming effect.
Westonbirt Arboretum has around 18,000 trees and shrubs planted over an area of approximately 600 acres. Its 17 miles of marked paths provide access to a wide variety of rare plants.
The two main areas that visitors like to explore are The Old Arboretum which is a designed landscape offering spectacular views, stately avenues, and a grand collection of rare and exotic trees from around the world dating back to the 1850s, and Silk wood.
Silk Wood is very different. It too contains many exotic plantings but at its heart is a traditional working woodland that dates back to the 13th century.
Visitors are also welcome to explore anywhere within the Arboretum, through woodland tracks and off the beaten path. Except for working areas that state “no entry”, these are few and are staff only areas.
On some days there are events such has “behind the scenes” tours and sometimes the plant propagation area is open to the public too.
Throughout each season there are trees of special interest highlighted both at the visitor centre and in maps that are freely available.
Westonbirt Arboretum History
The arboretum was established in 1829 by Robert Holford, during the heyday of worldwide, Victorian exploration and plant collection.
It was extended later by his son George Holford.
After the death of George in 1926, ownership of the arboretum passed to his nephew and then eventually to the Forestry Commission in 1956 and Forestry England in 2019.
The Holford family’s mansion was separated from the Arboretum in 1927 and is now a girl’s boarding school.
Autumn Colour At Westonbirt Arboretum
Westonbirt is famous for it glorious autumn colour. People travel from all over the world to see the maples, acers and other trees that put on a grand autumnal show. Vivid crimson, gold, red, bronze and copper shimmers in the sunshine.
It truly is spectacular and for me it will continue to be a very special place.
Once you have discovered Westonbirt you will never forget it and will want to visit again and again.
There is beauty and a very spiritual experience awaiting you, in whichever season you visit.
What Is There At Westonbirt Arboretum?
- Large visitor centre
- Gift shop and cafe with large outdoor seating area
- Westonbirt Wood works
- Courses and workshops for art, photography, bee-keeping, woodwork plus many other seasonal courses
- Guided walks
- Children’s play and learning activities
- Events and concerts
Find out more about all events and courses at Westonbirt Arboretum website.
Sunday to Saturday 9:00 to 16:30
Cafe opens at 9:30
Dogs are welcome in the Silk wood area but not in the Old Arboretum.
There are plenty of seats and benches around for you to take the weight off of your feet, both along the marked pathways and in quieter, less visited areas. There are several picnic areas too, with tables and benches. There is nothing stopping you enjoying a picnic anywhere within the Arboretum what-should-you-bring-on-a-picnic
are both useful reviews for my top picnic essentials.
Miserden Gardens Near Westonbirt
Miserden gardens near Westonbirt Arboretum are a short drive away near Stoud and are well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Miserden house and gardens are privately owned as is the village in which they sit. Surrounded by the stunning Cotswolds countryside near Stroud, Miserden is a little gem.
The gardens date back to 1620 when the Jacobean house was built. After a fire in 1919 Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to create a new wing, which boasts a beautiful arched loggia. This looks out over the lawns, arboretum and deer park. The arches are swathed in wisteria.
Cotswolds stone steps, pathways and walls lead you through the Arts and Crafts gardens.
The huge mixed herbaceous borders are lush and colourful, filled with perennial plants, roses and shrubs. In flower during my visit were poppies, peonies, roses, salvia, lupins, delphiniums and foxgloves to name but a few.
Beyond the rise walk is a terraced area boasting a summer house, stone built rill and fountains.
Further on from the lawned and meadows a path winds through a small arboretum with views to the deer park and surrounding fields.
The Edwardian glasshouses look to be undergoing some restoration. One of them has been converted into a cafe serving lunches, snacks, cakes and drinks.
Hotels Westonbirt Arboretum
Tetbury itself is a very picturesque market town, with an abundance of antique shops, delicatessen, cafes, restaurants and hotels. Also the Highgrove shop which is very popular as it where produce from Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate is available, amongst other gorgeous, crazily priced, luxury goods.
A quaint coaching inn in the heart of the pretty, historic village of Avening.
Rooms are modern, light and airy.
Large walk in shower
Dinner Menu at the pub is typical English pub fare, well-prepared and delicious.
Breakfast was also very good with a wide choice.
Literally a stones throw from the entrance to Westonbirt, this country hotel is truly magnificent. I am determined to stay here for one of my visits to this area.
Having been in the bar for a drink, I can assure you that looking around this hotel is is definitely one of old world courtesy and customer comfort. There are rooms within the centuries old building itself and also suites that are in the grounds. Flagstone floors, beams and huge stone fireplaces, it is wonderful.
Looking for more forests to visit and actually stay in a forest cabin for your holiday or short break? Read my article about Deerpark Forest in Cornwall
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