After brilliant days out on Forestry England sites at both Cannock Chase and the Forest of Dean, we were keen to explore another one of their locations. Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire is a beautiful, dog friendly day out that has something to offer for the whole family. Young children with bikes under 70cm tall can cycle around the site while adults enjoy a relaxing walk. And of course, there’s plenty of fun for dogs too. The majority of the site is dog friendly although there are a few areas where dogs can’t go and others where they need to be on the lead. The cafe sells doggy ice cream too which is always appreciated!
About Westonbirt Arboretum
Westonbirt, the National Arboretum has two national tree collections and 2,500 tree species from around the world. Unsurprisingly, it is therefore regarded as one of the most important collections of plants in the world. It plays its part in conservation and research as well as being open to the public.
The arboretum came into being nearly 200 years ago due to its owner Robert Halford’s passion for the natural world. The whole 600 acre arboretum was given to Forestry England in 1956. These days, Visitors can walk in the tree canopy on the tree top walkway. The view from up there is fabulous and my dog loved it even more than we did – it was like an access window to squirrel world. It blew her tiny mind.
There are a variety of paths of different distances with both running and walking trails. Many of these are on hard surfaces on gravelled paths. This makes them accessible for prams, buggies, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Things to do for children
For young children, Westonbirt is a lovely place to cycle and follow the various different trails that take place throughout the year. At the moment there’s the winter family trail, winter seasonal trail, Birt’s I-spy adventure and the Shaun the Sheep glow trail. You’ll need to download the Shaun the sheep app before you arrive because the signal is a bit hit and miss on the site.
Carved wooden Gruffalo sculptures are dotted around, particularly in the Old Arboretum. This is an area where dogs aren’t allowed, but if you do have a dog you can still see the Gruffalo’s Child in Silk wood. Another great attraction for children is the abundance of play areas. There’s a small park by the cafe, as well as woodland and natural play areas included on the natural play trail. If you want to follow this, you’ll need to get a map from reception when you arrive.
My girls loved visiting the National Arboretum and it’s a great way to get children out into the fresh air. They enjoyed playing on the small park, but had even more fun on this clearing full of logs. It’s amazing how long something so simple can keep them entertained. Older children will appreciate the plant hunter orienteering trail. It’s great to see somewhere thinking of children who want to visit but may have grown out of using the play equipment.
Food and drink
The cafe at Westonbirt Arboretum serves a variety of meals and caters well for dietary needs. I had a vegan soup with bread and the girls both had hot sandwiches and chips. Whilst the cafe isn’t dog friendly inside, there is a large seating area outside where dogs are welcome. Water bowls are provided here too.
There is also a small kiosk near to the entrance to buy basic snacks and drinks. If you decide to bring a picnic instead, you’ll be spoilt for choice with all the beautiful clearings to sit in for lunch. There’s also a lovely community shelter that would be ideal for a picnic.
What you need to know about visiting Westonbirt Arboretum
How to get there: Directions are available from the ‘how to find us’ tab of the Westonbirt Arboretum website.
Ticket prices: Prices start from £7 per adult and £3 per child out of season. Under 5’s are free. The prices vary according to the season and several discounts are available, including a reduction for anybody who doesn’t arrive by car. Full details can be found on the ‘parking and prices’ tag of their home page.
Parking at Westonbirt: There is a huge, free car park with plenty of space and accessible spaces are located closer to the entrance.
Is Westonbirt Arboretum accessible? Many of the paths are made of a hard surface that is fine for wheelchairs, pushchairs and mobility scooters.
Events at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum: A variety of events and trails take place throughout the year. It is worth checking their website to see what’s on when you visit. Certain events are ticket only, so do check whether you need to book in advance.
Is Westonbirt Arboretum part of the National Trust? No, it is a Forestry England site so National Trust membership cards can’t be used here.
Westonbirt Arboretum Membership: Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a charity that supports conservation at the site. It costs £39 for a single membership and £76 for a joint membership and members can bring up to four of their children or grandchildren aged under 18 to visit for free.