The National Arboretum at Westonbirt, in Gloucestershire, is about twenty miles from Bath. Managed by the Forestry Commission, Westonbirt is a tree collection on a grand scale, and visitors can spend a pleasant day out wandering through the 600-acre site.
The tree collection was founded in the early nineteenth century by Robert Holford, who gathered specimens of rare plants being brought to Britain by plant collectors. Today the landscaped site contains around 18,000 specimens of trees and shrubs. Among the highlights are azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons (at their best in late spring and early summer), although the garden is probably most famous for its autumn displays as the leaves turn fantastic rich autumn colours.
Occasional special events and concerts are held at Westonbirt – see the official website for the latest programme of events. Guided tours and information are provided at the arboretum.
The arboretum is open daily from 9am to 4:45pm. The entrance charge varies depending on the time of year. There is a shop, restaurant, cafe and plant centre on the site.
The best way to reach Westonbirt from Bath is by car. The arboretum is located on the A433 just north of the M4 (close to Tetbury), and can be reached via the A46 from Bath.It’s harder to reach by public transport. Bus 620 (Wessex Bath) runs from Bath to Old Sodbury several times a day, and bus 27 connects Old Sodbury with Tetbury, stopping at Westonbirt.