Autumn is my least favourite season of the year. The days get shorter and darker, it gets colder (and quite often wetter) and people start talking about Christmas far too soon. It doesn’t really live up to the idyllic images of pumpkin patches, hot chocolates and trendy ankle boots which seem to be all over the internet. However, although I’ve never been autumn’s biggest fan, I do enjoy a sunny day when the leaves are on the turn – and Westonbirt Arboretum is the perfect place to go! I’d intended to go last year and ran out of time, so was determined we would make the time this year.
Westonbirt Arboretum is home to 2,500 different species of tree from the far corners of the globe and five national tree collections. It’s meant to be one of the best collections of trees in the world and is run by Forestry England. It’s not the sort of place that would usually be top of places I want to visit, particularly as there is an entry fee, but I couldn’t resist the autumn colours…
Westonbirt Arboretum has a different trail each season, alongside different activities and events. On arrival, you’ll be provided with the current seasonal trail map to help guide you through the trees and see something special. Although I really enjoyed my day out and would consider going back in another season, Autumn is clearly what the Arboretum is known for. There’s even a hotline you can phone to keep up to date with colour changes! There were also plenty of warnings about queues on the drive towards the Arboretum. Following the advice of a blogger who had been the previous week, we arrived for 2pm as a lot of morning visitors were starting to go home.
There were two Autumn trails to complete – one through the Old Arboretum and another through the Silk Wood. We managed to complete them both before closing time, even with the amount of time we spent taking photos. However if you want to venture off the trail to see more of that area, or really want to take your time then I’d advise just doing one route in an afternoon.
We started in the Old Arboretum as this had been recommended to us as first time visitors. Dogs aren’t allowed in the Old Arboretum so something to be aware of if you’re planning on bringing a furry friend along. We stuck to the Autumn trail so there was actually a lot more of the Old Arboretum that we could have seen, but we were drawn to the reds and pinks of the turning trees. I think we were there just a little early to catch Acer Glade in its full glory, but we still really enjoyed the mix of colour and seeing a lot of trees on the turn.
After we finished in the Old Arboretum we headed past the very busy cafe and play area towards the Silk Wood (where dogs are allowed). The cafe was really busy even though we weren’t there at lunch time, but the food did look good. I’d advise being flexible with when you eat or bringing a picnic if you’re planning on coming for the full day.
I think I actually preferred the Silk Wood walk to the Old Arboretum. It was much more spread out, but that meant that it appeared to be less busy and you had more chance of getting a photo without other people in the way. I also think there was a greater variety of colour in the Silk Wood – with some very yellow trees as well as hues of orange, pink and red.
At the end of the Silk Wood trail was the STIHL Treetop Walkway which gave the opportunity to see the trees from a different perspective. It was lined with interesting bits of information which made me come away feeling as if I had learned something, rather than just taking a ridiculous number of photos of leaves.
Despite the number of people who had clearly decided to see the autumn colours at Westonbirt Arboretum on the same day as us, our trip felt very peaceful and relaxing. There was never a point where we stuck in a crowd of people, and if we had been we could have simply taken an alternative path. Visiting the Arboretum was the perfect thing to get me in the mood for Autumn and ready for the change of season (although I’m still sad about the clocks changing). I can see why people make an annual pilgrimage to Westonbirt Arboretum and I enjoyed it so much I have a feeling we might start doing the same…
Have you been to Westonbirt Arboretum? What do you do to get in the mood for Autumn?