My first visit to Westonbirt Arboretum was back in August 2008 over the bank holiday weekend, to experience their annual woodworking show (now known as Treefest) for the first time. It was only the second show of its kind that I’d been to and it blew me away with all it had to offer – put it this way; we spent so much of the day walking around to see each and every stall that we didn’t have enough time left to explore the arboretum. I’m not sure how the show may have changed in the years since but it still attracts a large following.
Since then, I’d been wanting to revisit and my intention has always been to return during the autumn season, after having seen everyone else’s photos (on Facebook, etc.) of the leaves in all their vibrant, autumnal glory. Fear of going alone is all that has really held me back until now (not to mention wasting a lot of time last year ‘waiting’ for someone…). But I’ve made a few really good friends in the last year and one of them didn’t hesitate to say yes to the prospect of going last weekend.
This is one of those posts where I fear that the sheer number of photos is going to grossly outweigh the quantity of words I am able to lay on to this page. But then, there’s the chance that I’ll find the inspiration to write from somewhere as it has happened before! I like to give a little more than a slideshow or a simple selection of favourites.
Westonbirt, being the National Arboretum, always attracts an audience, especially at this time of year and also a little closer to Christmas. People seem to come from as far as London and perhaps much further to see the natural change in seasons for themselves.
If you live anywhere within driving distance of Tetbury, you love the outdoors but you’ve not been here before… You’ll be kicking yourself upon making your first visit because it really does have so much to offer for nature lovers.
We all want to see those red leaves for ourselves; the ones our favourite photographers on Instagram and Twitter are displaying for all to see. I believe these trees are acers. I kept wanting to write ‘acacia’ at the time but it’s easy for me to remember as this species lends its name to the manufacturers of my laptop!
Not only will you get to experience the wealth of colour but their trees come in all shapes and sizes. Some native; others flown in [perhaps not literally] from across the globe.
A giant redwood or sequoia; native to North America. This trunk must’ve been close to 4ft/1200mm in diameter.
This was not my first revisit to the arboretum since 2008. In fact, I’d been here twice previously within the last 12 months on two separate outings with the local walking group.
My very first walk with the group (a year ago and almost to the day) began in Didmarton to the west, before we passed through the arboretum (only briefly) before completing a return circuit to our start point. Needless to say that mention of the word ‘arboretum’ in the walk description led to almost 30 people turning up at the meeting point – it was quite intimidating for my first group walk!
Then, about three-months later, I returned through the arboretum on another walk with a different leader.
This one began in the centre of Tetbury, so we were immediately heading west to reach the arboretum and our halfway point. We passed Highgrove before that, while also just about managing to escape the concerning interests of two equine creatures.
But on neither of those occasions did we actually pay the required entrance fee to get in. They charge £9 per adult (full price) at this time of year, which you can understand when you think of the following this place has and how much work must be required for its regular upkeep. But there are also a couple of footpaths with public rights of way running in to and out of the arboretum… Neither path is easy to find or follow (I remember lots of mud on each occasion) but it’s obviously not something they’re going to tell you while you wait in line! All you really need is an OS map and a compass… Ahem.
For all the colours to be found, there’s still plenty of green to be seen.
One Gromit you won’t have found in Bristol!
We came across a couple of chainsaw carvings or wooden sculptures left over from Treefest.
Little Bo Peep needs to look down and to her left…
I think it was oak because you could smell the sweetness. Either that or chestnut, I assume. This was over in the ‘old’ arboretum, where we soon stopped for lunch beneath this glowing spectacle:
Far and away from where we were sat (and later headed), there was a mansion that I was completely unaware of.
We soon made our way across the main driveway and in to the new arboretum over on the left of the site.
That was where we came across two more wooden sculptures, which appeared to have been cut and then maybe bought or donated by private artists/woodworkers… They certainly looked unlikely to have come from this year’s Treefest, given the look of natural ageing within the wood.
“What’s the time, Mr.Wolf?”
We then continued in search of the ‘2,000-year-old’ lime tree that was clearly stated on the map they hand you upon paying your entrance fee.
But for where we arrived with our necked bent and heads already crooked upwards in anticipation of a monumental tree specimen; instead, we were greeted by its, erm, offspring?
Yes, if you read the description carefully on the notice block beside then you’ll realise that these are the descendants of a tree that apparently once stood here. It’s not quite the same as seeing ‘a 2000-year-old‘ tree but it was nice to be able to walk around inside.
We continued our walk around the new arboretum before it gradually started to rain.
On what had begun as such a bright sunny day with an almost-clear blue sky…
Come mid afternoon, we were in the wake of a downpour, with many people seeking to take shelter beneath the branches.
There really isn’t much more that I feel I can say… It was a great day out! I’d not expected to spend so long wandering around. I hadn’t really appreciate just how large the arboretum is.
But I will encourage you to pay a visit yourself some day. Maybe not this week, perhaps not even this year. But you won’t regret it. I promise you that much!
I’d also like to ask you to consider viewing all 104 photos within my Flickr album – please click here.
Thank you for reading.