“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”, L. M. Montgomery said in Anne of Green Gables. And so am I. If you’re a fan of autumn too – or fall, as our friends across the Atlantic will say – follow me on my adventure to Westonbirt Arboretum, deep in the Gloucestershire countryside. It’s truly an autumnal rite of passage, with some of the most beautifully colourful trees to give you the autumn feels and get you into the fall festivities. Visitors can walk around seventeen miles of trails within this autumnal estate, which has plants from all over the world.
Getting to Westonbirt Arboretum
My family and I typically drive across to Westonbirt Arboretum from the neighbouring town of Cheltenham. There are plenty of parking spaces and you can park for free, although I’d suggest getting there early as it can get busy during peak autumn. It’s a pretty little drive to Westonbirt. You’ll wind past towns like Stroud and idyllic Tetbury. It’s on a stretch that takes you past Highgrove House and Gardens, the private residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Keep your eyes peeled as you get closer to the arboretum.
If you’re travelling from a little further afield, you can catch a direct train to nearby Stroud from London, Reading, and Gloucester. From Stroud station, it’s simple enough to walk to a bus stop which will take you to Westonbirt. You’ll be rewarded with a discount on entry if you’re travelling car free or arriving via public transport or bike.
Arriving at Westonbirt Arboretum
As you get nearer to Westonbirt Arboretum in autumn, you’ll notice the the perfect dry stone walls of neighbouring Tetbury begin to blur into golden trees. These in turn become deep red Japanese maples. You’re suddenly surrounded by the rainbow hues of the trees of Westonbirt Arboretum. If you’re unfamiliar with arboretums, firstly don’t confuse it with an abattoir like my friend (very different things!). Instead, you can expect a range of diverse, beautiful trees of all colours in the height of autumn.
Entry into Westonbirt Arboretum in the autumn currently costs £10 per adult, £7 for students, and £4 for children over 5. Of course, dogs are welcome into the arboretum also.
What’s at Westonbirt Arboretum?
Westonbirt Arboretum is essentially a huge tree garden. There are over 2,500 different species of tree from all across the world. It’s the perfect place for exploring and adventuring through the many trees. Put on some boots and wrap up warm and get ready to walk. There’s also a Tree Top Walkway for exploring the trees from above, guided walks, and a cafe and gift shop for some tasty treats and souvenirs.
Despite being open all year round, Westonbirt Arboretum is most interesting in my eyes at the height of autumn. Each season has a new seasonal trail for exploring different tree species. The arboretum even has a hotline (0300 067 5691) that you can call for getting updates on the autumnal colour changes. Or, simply see for yourself on social media.
Walking through Westonbirt Arboretum
My family and I recently ventured out for the day for an autumn walk. It’s the same I used to do every year when I was younger at the arboretum. I used to wrap up in a coat, wellington boots, and a hat. I remember the excitement of the colours, throwing crisp leaves about, and snacking on roasted chestnuts as we walked. This time wasn’t so different.
Westonbirt Arboretum is a place that you definitely need to see for yourself. Photos don’t quite do the vibrant colours any justice.
We wondered in the crisp air, before stumbling across a cafe and stopping for hot chocolates. We brought with us some doughnuts that we’d picked up en route from the most incredible bakery at Stroud Farmers’ Market. If you have time on your journey to Westonbirt Arboretum, give Pippin Doughnuts a try!
Pippin Doughnuts also make appearances in Bristol and Oxford, so check them out. We picked a variety and shared – hazelnut and butterscotch was a winner, followed by apple, blackberry and custard. Delicious!
We continued our walk through Westonbirt Arboretum, hands deep in pockets in the bitter air, kicking leaves as we went.
There is something pretty magical about walking on golden carpets of leaves. In Westonbirt Arboretum, you’ll also notice the tranquility of not coming into contact with many other people throughout your visit. Take a walk off the beaten path and you’ll find your own little corner of the arboretum.
What’s even more special is that the arboretum only really looks this colourful for just a couple of weeks a year, so you need to catch it quickly.
It’s been so lovely to relive some childhood memories with my loved ones! Sometimes, just a day out in the countryside is all you really need.
Year Round at the Arboretum
Although autumn is by far the most popular season for visiting Westonbirt Arboretum, the other seasons are also beautiful there. Here are some ideas for you and your family:
- Enchanted Christmas: Voted number 1 in Britain’s Favourite Christmas Light Display, Westonbirt’s Enchanted Christmas offers an illuminated trail through the arboretum. There’s also a Christmas village with arts and crafts, Christmas market stalls, and hot chocolate and mulled wine on offer.
- Visit in the spring: Westonbirt Arboretum is a beautiful and relaxing place to visit in any season. Bring a picnic in the spring and witness the stunning bluebells flourishing throughout the park.
That’s my day trip to Westonbirt Arboretum in the autumn. Where are your favourite places to enjoy the changing seasons?