If there is one thing that suits my whole family it is nature. With 3 boys of varying ages still at home you can imagine that getting in the great outdoors is just ideal. It lets them get fresh air and exercise (which I want them to have) but for them they have the freedom to run, jump, make noise, explore and learn on their own terms. This last weekend we visited Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire as it is one of the best places in the UK to see the true beauty that autumn has to offer. It is accessible for wheelchair users and dogs are welcome.
“…home to 15,000 trees, a succession of plants from different areas of the temperate globe burst into a succession of bright, golden or burnished tones meaning there is something to delight the senses throughout the autumn period – from September to November – with peak leaf-peeping time being the month of October.”
Our Experience of Westonbirt Arboretum in autumn
When we arrived shortly before noon it was really busy but there was plenty of parking and queues to get in (and for the toilet) moved very quickly. Entrance cost us £30 for 2 adults and 3 children and included any parking. Each of the 3 children received a children’s map and we also took one adult map. We hardly covered even all of the children’s bits whilst we were there, as five hours later the boys were still shouting, “Look a tree, a tree!” and running off exploring. Luckily for us a lot of the trees had signs on them telling us what they were. The children began to realise that certain “types” of trees could be identified by their leaves.
Westonbirt Arboretum is a wonderful place to take children to discover nature’s playground. During our time we enjoyed seeing just how many different colours and shapes of leaves we could find; made leaf angels, threw, caught and made art with leaves, we also collected some to take home. There are plenty of places designed to play with trees – with den building, tree roots, tree stumps to hop on, a troll bridge, a felled giant and much much more. To ensure we did not get lost we followed the trails: Old Arboretum (where no dogs are allowed) and Silk Wood (where well behaved dogs are welcome). This is certainly somewhere you could spend a long time because even the hour trail took us well over 2 hours because the children were enjoying each bit so much that they were not ready to move on. We will have to go back because we ran out of time, but not before finding The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. The accessibility meant that our son was fine to walk around in sandals without getting all muddy (something that we only noticed when we got there!!!)
The Gruffalo Autumn Nature Trail – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
We were gifted The Gruffalo Autumn Nature Trail book by the Forestry Commission England and what a treat that was. Packed full of lots of imagery, facts, and things to do in the forest all associated with autumn – and stickers too! Out of the 24 pictures of things to find our 6 year old found 18 of them! The book really got him excited as he was eager to share his findings and add the Gruffalo Paw print sticker. There are also facts that your child can read and learn at home, as well as places to draw and make notes.
Westonbirt Arboretum in October made it really easy for him to find every single colour leaf in his book. It was a real visual treat to see the different shades of trees all at one time. We also looked at the different shapes of the leaves and discovered which types of tree they belong to. The book also has a leaf detector page and some inspiration on how you can use your leaves for art. Other things we discovered in the forest and were in the book include berries, mushrooms, bugs, conkers, acorns, sycamore seeds, cones and beechnuts – there was even things that the adults did not know! We will definitely be looking into getting the books for the other seasons now.
The Forestry Commission
Have so much going on and so many ideas for things to do with your children in the Forest (and for those without children!). Please visit The Forestry Commission for further information. The Forestry Commission has listed Westonbirt Arboretum is listed as the number 1 place to go to see autumn! See the top 10 autumn places to visit.
For more photos of Westonbirt Arboretum in autumn on my Facebook Page
I received the book, a bag, a notebook, Gruffalo picture frame and 2 free parking passes in return for sharing the joy of the Forestry Commission with my readers. All words and opinions are honest and my own.