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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 10 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Westonbirt was originally the private estate of Victorian entrepreneur Richard Holford, a passionate collector and plant hunter at a time when trees and shrubs from across the world were being introduced to Britain.

Today, his collection has grown into the National Arboretum, with 15,000 different species of trees fanning out from seventeen miles of paths, including the National collection of Acers, which flame raspberry, auburn and saffron in the autumn months.

The highlight is the 300m-long Treetop Walkway, which rises gently to a height of 13 metres, giving amazing views over the tree canopy. Younger kids will love the ‘play trail’ and there are several different walking route according to how much time you have to explore.

Price from: £11
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Westonbirt is around two hours’ drive from London, in the south-west corner of the Cotswolds. There’s free parking if you’re driving, and obviously you can cycle there. The nearest train station is Kemble, located between the towns of Tetbury and Cirencester and is a 15-minute taxi ride away.

Book a ticket in advance on the website. They offer free daily guided walks (about 1.5 hours) – a brilliant way to learn about the history and conservation work. They can be booked up to 7 days in advance, and meet 5 minutes before the start at the Welcome Building.

If you prefer to go it alone, there are several themed walks available on the website, including special ones for kids (spot a Gruffalo anyone?).

When to do it

Westonbirt is open all year round, seven days a week. Guided walks run daily, one in the late morning, one in the early afternoon.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Whatley Manor

Malmesbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom (UK)[5.3 miles]

A gorgeously-restored Cotswolds manor house hotel, with an award-winning spa and double Michelin-starred restaurant.

Official star rating:

The Manor House

Castle Combe, Wiltshire, United Kingdom (UK)[12.7 miles]

A romantic country house retreat set in historic Castle Combe, one of England’s most medieval villages.

Official star rating:

Thornbury Castle

Thornbury, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)[21.7 miles]

A 1511 Tudor castle, turned luxury hotel, rich in royal history. It’s the authentic castle experience, with everything from suits of armour to panelled rooms with four-poster beds. Children over 8 only.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, United Kingdom (UK)

One of England’s most beautiful regions – a patchwork landscape of idyllic countryside, postcard-perfect villages and cosy historic boutique hotels.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Highgrove Gardens

Tetbury, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)[3 miles]

A beautiful, organic and sustainable garden, Highgrove is also the private home of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Best for ages: 14+ | £2,950

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

exterior of Berkeley Castle, with red stone walls

Berkeley Castle

Berkeley, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)[18.9 miles]

A spectacular fortress, home to the Berkeley family since the late 12th century, surrounded by a beautiful grounds and deer park, with regular history-themed events.

Best for ages: 18+ | £15

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Overview >
A pathway leading up to a red gazebo in a garden

Painswick Rococo Garden

Stroud, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom (UK)[20.8 miles]

Dotted with follies, quirky buildings, colourful borders and unusual shrubs and plants, Painswick dates back to 1799, and is the UK’s only complete surviving rococo garden.

Best for ages: 18+ | £10

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Overview >
Exterior view of the beautiful gold stone facade

Lacock Abbey

Chippenham, Wiltshire, United Kingdom (UK)[22.5 miles]

An elegant, 13th-century house built on the foundations of a former nunnery, Lacock is the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, famous for his part in the invention of photography.

Best for ages: 18+ | £15

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Overview >