Westonbirt Arboretum

If you love nature and horticulture and are visiting the Cotswolds, you will want to make sure that Westonbirt Arboretum is on your itinerary.  This National Arboretum is situated near the market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.  The arboretum is probably the most famous in all of the UK, and was originally planted in the middle of the 19th century by Robert Stayner Holford.  Following his death, it was passed onto his son, George Lindsay Holford, and then to the Earl of Morley, and finally to the Forestry Commission, which manages the beautiful park today.

At Westonbirt, you’ll be able to explore an elegantly cultivated landscape with more than 18,000 trees and shrubs, planted within 600 acres.  There are 27 kilometers of paths to explore, taking visitors to the two main areas of the park, the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood.  The Old Arboretum has a more cultivated look than the Silk Wood, which offers an experience closer to that of a wild forest.  The Old Arboretum features the stately grounds which so many visitors to the Cotswolds associate with the English countryside.  Many rare trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants can be found in the Old Arboretum and the Silk Wood, including some of the tallest or largest of their kind in the entire country.  These special trees and plants are marked as “champions” with blue labels to identify them to visitors.

With so much to see and do, you could probably easily spend days in the Arboretum exploring and learning about trees and flowers.  So if you are only going to be in the area a short while and you only have a few hours to spend in the Arboretum, you will definitely want to check the Arboretum’s website first to find out what flowers are in bloom and which leaves are turning.  You can also find guides to the 17 miles of trails as well as activities for children and adults.

Depending on what time of year you are in the region, you may be able to visit the Arboretum during one of its annual festivals, Treefest, which features music, camping, and other fun activities in August, or the Enchanted Christmas event.  During the Enchanted Christmas event, trees and pathways are illuminated in the evenings so that guests can explore the beauty of the park at nighttime and see the Arboretum in a whole new way.

Westonbirt Gardens

Westonbirt Arboretum Website

Tetbury

Tetbury Tourist Information Guide

Tetbury is a mid-sized Cotswold town located in Gloucestershire.  It was founded in 681 by an Anglo-Saxon who built a monastery there, most likely Ine of Wessex.  Tetbury established its importance in the wool industry in medieval times.  To this day the Tetbury Woolsack Races pay testament to the history of the town.  Contestants in the races on Woolsack Day run up a steep hill carrying a 60 pound sack of wool.

Tetbury is perhaps best known for its shopping.  While antique shops are a popular attraction throughout the Cotswolds, Tetbury is regarded as the premier town to buy antiques with over thirty stores to choose from.  People travel from all over England and throughout the world to shop in Tetbury.  You will also find plenty of tea houses, pubs and inns along Tetbury’s streets in which to relax or stay.  Nearly all the shops in Tetbury are locally owned.  In the town centre you’ll come across the Market House, an intriguing building that seems to stand on stilts.  The House contains the clock and dolphins which you see featured on the town’s emblem.  Also popular and located in the city centre is the Tetbury Police Museum which exhibits the history of the policing trade in the county since 1839.

If you want to get out and see the countryside, just east of the town you can enjoy Preston Park which follows the Railway Yard Path toward Long Newnton.  You can enjoy both long and short walks as well as picnics here at the picnic tables.

Another attraction just outside of Tetbury is Westonbirt Arboretum.  The 600 acre park showcases over 16,000 exotic and rare trees and offers many woodland paths for you to amble along.  The arboretum holds many events including pop concerts, charity walks, fireworks and a yearly Festival of the Tree.

Also of interest (although less accessible) is the Highgrove House where Princes Charles, William and Harry live.  The House is less than a mile from Tetbury and is closed to the public, but occasionally you can get in on garden tours.  It is not uncommon to see one of the princes visiting town!

One magnificent house with lovely grounds you can explore is Chavenage House on the edge of town.  This Elizabethan style manor is located near the National Arboretum and was constructed on 600 acres of land with 17 miles of paths which are open to the public.  Many tourists and locals consider the grounds of Chavenage to be as glorious as the Arboretum itself, particularly during the autumn as the foliage changes colours.

The Cotswold Water Park is within easy reach of Tetbury and contains the largest inland body of water in the country.  Here you can partake in a variety of activities and sports and relax in the tranquility of nature.

Tetbury is a haven for antique shoppers but also offers a wide variety of activities both in town and in the immediate surrounding area for people with diverse interests.  There is plenty to see and do here that can keep you busy for days!

Tetbury Wikipedia