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Your comments on Forestry Commission - Westonbirt, The National Arboretum - visitor information, events and tree collection information

As a member I continue to be saddened by the often vitriolic posts about dogs. Despite being a fully paid up member as a dog owner I can only access Silk Wood which I totally accept. I wish others were as tolerant. I don't necessarily want to listen to screaming children but I realise that in a shared world I can't have it all my own way. May I suggest clearer signage that pre-warns those less tolerant that Silk Wood is dog friendly and for a dog free experience they may prefer the Old Arboretum.

Anonymous, 30/Dec/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback - we do our best to ensure that Westonbirt provides something for both dog walkers and non dog walkers by keeping the Old Arboretum dog free but by welcoming dogs into Silk Wood. Your comments regarding clearer signage on this policy onsite have been passed onto the team and will be taken on board going forward.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

We visited the Enchanted Christmas last weekend, I was quite disappointed. It was very similar to the year before last. Its quite expensive for what it is

we arrived at 3pm to have a little look around the grounds, the door staff were most unpleasant and wouldnt let us in. We weren't even permitted to go to the coffee shop!

Would not recommend it due to this.

On a normal day it is a lovely place but too expensive, considering they have a gift shop and cafe they make money from.

Caroline , 21/Dec/2017

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to send us your comments - we are always looking for ways to improve and your comments will be taken on board going forward. In order to allow us time to set up for the event, we do close general entry admission to the site at 2pm on Enchanted Christmas days. This is to allow staff time to set up for the event so we can ensure that the evening is a success. We made every effort to communicate this clearly to visitors on the website and social media. In order to continue to care for the many rare and remarkable trees we have here at the arboretum, we do charge a fee of £7 per adult in the winter, and £10 per adult in spring, summer and autumn. We are completely not for profit and all entrance fees go back into caring for the nation's trees and forests. We ensure that we offer excellent value for money by providing a wide range of activities and events onsite free after admission, such as family events in the school holidays, the seasonal trail, seasonal family trail, TreeQuest App, STIHL Treetop Walkway and more.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Have been wanting to visit for a long time and now family have moved nearby we did so. What is not clear, and you also do not cover in your answers to comments people have made about entrance prices, is that there is an annual membership which also allows entrance to the botanical gardens at Kew, Cardiff, Edinburgh and other places! We arrived and were discussing the costs of entry and said to the cashier about the annual fee and was then verbally told about the joint access to other gardens with the annual membership. We have the Edinburgh membership so then said we had it but didnt realise so hadnt got our tickets with us. After checking in the car we returned and was told you have no method of checking if we hold membership so we decided we had to pay the full admission. If you advertise the annual membership and how good it is with admission to other gardens you would probably get a whole lot of people buying it and then dropping by for short visits and a meal, rather than feeling it is so expensive you have to make a day of it. Also we did enjoy our (expensive) visit. The idea of climbing a hill isnt that appealing but the very clever walkway up into the trees is not a climb yet suddenly we were up in the treetops, a very clever design. We enjoyed a cup of tea in the cafe designed like a tree house and lots of people were having full meals very happily. Thinking of buying family the annual membership but will have to research which is the best to buy, for instance, yours which allows access to Kew, or Kew which allows acces to you. They are different prices I think ...

Sarah, 20/Dec/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Came to the enchanted christmas tonight. Fantastic. Better than last year. Can't wait for next year's event

Mary, 16/Dec/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us such a lovely review. We're so glad that you enjoyed your visit to us and hope you enjoyed the rest of the festive season!

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Well I went to the Christmas event last night and it absolutely blew my mind. I have booked to go again twice! Have been to the arboretum many times it is absolutely fantastic. The facilities are great and it lacks the tacky nature that some similar places take on. It is peaceful and serene but still plenty for all of the family. If you have not seen the Christmas light up, do! Its spectacular.

Sal , 3/Dec/2017

That's so lovely to hear! Thanks for taking the time to send us your review! Have a great Christmas and we look forward to seeing you again at Enchanted Christmas.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

We love it here, its 40min drive but we try to come a couple of times a month with the dogs to get the most of the membership. You feel like you are in a little bubble walking around the trees. You can always find somewhere quiet even on a sunny Sat afternoon. Its beautiful, my favourite place in the area. Thank you for keeping it going :-)

Anonymous, 29/Nov/2017

We're so glad you enjoy your visits to us, and thanks so much for taking the time to post your review here! We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

Do not visit during half term. Far too many cars, people, children, push chairs and DOGS. More like a theme park. Entrance fee too much. No peace and quiet.

I visited some years ago and it was wonderful. Not this time. Restaurant poor, tea in a paper cup.

Marianne, 28/Nov/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. October half term is our busiest time of year, and we receive a large number of visits to the site. Though the main entrance and restaurant facilities can be crowded during this time, with 600 acres to explore it is possible to get away from the crowds and enjoy a tranquil walk even at our busiest times. We are aware that dog lovers and non dog owners like to come and enjoy the trees here at the arboretum, and we think that our solution of allowing dogs in Silk Wood but keeping the Old Arboretum a dog free zone provides something for all our visitors. In order to care for the many rare and precious trees we care for here, we do charge a fee of £10 per adult in the autumn, spring and summer and £7 per adult in the winter. We are not for profit and all entrance fees go back into caring for the nation's trees and forests.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

As usual a wonderful place to walk round, de-stress, talk about all sorts from nothings to serious stuff, enjoy a hot drink and cake and marvel at the trees in all seasons. We think the "hanging" poems are remarkable; can we get them in a leaflet or booklet? I'd be happy to pay good money to have them to read at home.

Sally Wilson, 23/Nov/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your lovely feedback, it's always great to hear when people have enjoyed their time onsite. Yes, a book of the poems will be available shortly, and you can pre-order a copy at Marchant's website: https://marchantbarronwords.org/book/

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

First ever visit yesterday and loved every minute - confirmed totally that trees are good for the soul - and poetry can be too.....

Anonymous, 18/Nov/2017
1 Star 1 Star

Totally disgusted with the 10 entrance charge per person and the fact that the shop cafe and toilets where past the entrance so not even a option to use I have in the past visited westernbirt and was able to walk in part of the forests and look in the shop as only the old arboretum access was charged for!!

Anonymous, 15/Nov/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your comments, and we're sorry that you did not enjoy your visit. In order to take care of the many rare and remarkable trees we have here, we do charge a fee of £10 per visitor for adults. We are completely not for profit, and all the money goes back into caring for the nation's forests. We believe that the entrance fee provides great value for money, with a wide variety of activities and sights available within the arboretum, such as seasonal trails, the STIHL Tree Top Walkway, family activities in the school holidays, the Gruffalo Sculpture trail, and much more.

Forestry Commission Response

We are planning to visit Westonbert arboretum on Thursday,

Is it still worth to visit for colour change?

Nil, 14/Nov/2017

Thanks for getting in touch, there is still some late autumn colour about, but the peak of the colour is now over. The best time for the Autumn colour is around mid October (though this does change every year, dependent on the weather), so if you aim for then next year you should see autumn at its best.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

Lovely place to walk around with some beautiful trees, but as many others have said - extremely poor signage, overpriced and staff not very friendly or welcoming.

Anonymous, 13/Nov/2017

Hi, We're so sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your visit to us. We have passed your comments onto the team. Regarding signage, we try to make this as clear as possible while still preserving the tranquility and feel of the arboretum. However, it is important that all visitors are able to find their way round site easily, and your comments will be taken on board going forward. In order to care for the many rare and remarkable trees we have here, we do charge an entrance fee £10 for adults. However, we feel we do provide excellent value for money, by having a range of activities on site, which are all free after admission. These include the STIHL treetop Walkway, our seasonal trail, family trail, booklet of threatened trees, family events in the school holidays and much more. All our staff receive regular training, and it is important to us that all visitors receive a friendly welcome. Your comment regarding the staff will be passed onto the team and we will issue a reminder to staff of the importance of making all our visitors feel welcome when they arrive onsite.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Lovely place for all ages , each season so different and inspiring. Lots of activities for young and nibble older ones. The buggy hire was invaluable when I had cancer and such fun. Nice to see the dogs enjoying the environment. The restaurant and outdoor eating area are very nice. Lovely gifts in the visitors shop, easily spend a whole day here.

Bee, 13/Nov/2017
3 Stars 3 Stars

Im disappointed again to read numerous comments about people complaining about dogs at Westonbirt...with someone even complaining about people owning two or three dogs, obviously not a dog lover as they would realise dogs are pack animals who love another dog to live with!!!! Us dog lovers who are also members who

helped keep Westonbirt going in the days before it became like a theme park are being made to feel even more unwelcome!!! We see the disapproving looks towards our dogs even though they are well behaved and kept on leads in the busy areas. Numerous times we've nearly been run over by kids on bikes or scooters and kids expecting elderly people to jump out of the way with not a word from the parents.. Come on Westonbirt you really need to get the balance right or youre going to lose some loyal members, but maybe youre not bothered as were not your target market anymore.

Samanrha, 12/Nov/2017

We're sorry to hear that you have been unhappy with your recent visits, and in particular that you feel that dog owners are now unwelcome. Please rest assured that we value our loyal customers, and work hard to ensure that all our visitors feel welcome when on site. As we have many dog lovers and non-dog owners amongst visitors, we feel that the fairest way is to make the Silk Wood (which encompasses two thirds of the arboretum) dog friendly, but to keep the Old Arboretum a dog free zone. Dogs are also welcome to be off the lead in Silk Wood as long as they are kept under control.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Booked a buggy for my Mum to use during visit but I was so impressed with the kindness of the lady who made sure that Mum had a blanket and gloves to keep her warm when out and about. The trees were gorgeous and we could have kept going all day long, such a wonderful day out with great staff to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. Thank you.

Sue Elliott, 10/Nov/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Very very good. We haven't been for a couple of years so the spectacular Stihl bridge was new to us. A very dog friendly place. Well staffed (quick service in the restaurant). A couple of complaints though...Gruffaloes everywhere, some on leads, some off leads, couldn't avoid them. They're wild animals you know, with teeth and and claws and stuff. Think of the Elf and Safety! Not to mention Gruffalophobes. And there weren't enough dogs. If you had more dogs off the lead they might be able to hunt down the Gruffaloes.

Seriously though, not so keen on the poetry (upmarket litter).

Jon, 6/Nov/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback, and we're so happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit. We are constantly on the look out for ways to connect people with the incredible trees we care for here. The Conversations with Trees trail, is designed to express the feelings inspired in many by the trees. It is a temporary feature and will leave us on the 1st December.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Visited yesterday with my 2 month old and 15 month old. The autumn colours were fabulous and the new skywalk is amazing. A big negative for us were the other visitors' dogs. There were hundreds of them, mostly off the lead. I was constantly having to stop them coming up to my toddler. One jumped up on the pram and got muddy footprints on it. The owners completely ignored me when I asked them to stop their dog. I think all dogs should be kept on leads as sooner or later something serious is going to happen. It has put me off visiting again.

Anonymous, 6/Nov/2017

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We are aware that we have many dog owners and non-dog owners amongst our visitors, and work hard to ensure that we provide a pleasant experience for everyone. We feel that the fairest way to achieve this is to allow dogs in the Silk Wood, but to keep the Old Arboretum a dog free zone. Dogs are allowed off the lead in the Silk Wood, but under the condition that they are kept under control. If you feel that anyone is behaving irresponsibly regarding dogs, please report it to a member of staff in the Welcome Building.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Beautiful colours, as always. We loved the poems - inspirational! We met several people who were enjoying them, but hadnt seen the intro on the map/guide. Ill be spreading the word about Marchant Barrons incredible poems along the Silkwood trail. Will there be a book of the poems?

Liz Miles, 5/Nov/2017

Thanks so much for taking the time to write us such a lovely review, we're so glad you enjoyed your visit and liked the 'Conversations with Trees' poetry trail. Yes, a book of the poems will be made available shortly. You can pre-order a copy from Marchant's website: https://marchantbarronwords.org/book/

Forestry Commission Response

I'm unhappy with the website my daughter really wats to go here and she can see no pictures she wants to see pictures before she decides if she wants to visit

Bruce, 4/Nov/2017

Hi, Thanks for sending us your feedback. We do have some seasonal pictures on the sliders at the top of the page, but the best place to see photos of what the arboretum currently looks like is our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Charming. Magical. Well organised. Great staff and great food...the poem banners were aptly moving and a wonderful addition to the experience. Definitely coming again.

Mrs Julie M Kabouya, 2/Nov/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Came for our first visit on a windy morning as Storm Brian approached. Had excellent info from a guide in the visitor's centre - took the The Silk Wood Trail and thoroughly enjoyed our walk through the woods. The poetry banners enhanced our experience -though we did not know the poet. Autumnwatch explained all with their excellent piece on the woodland and Marchant Barron. Congratulations the writer, the installer and the Forestry Commission for making our visit so special.

Harry & Melinda, 30/Oct/2017
3 Stars 3 Stars

The weather was beautiful today which made the walks well worth the visit. Shame about the cafe. It was my birthday too! We ordered the soup, 35 minutes later we were still waiting. We then realised that they'd given us the wrong table number. We asked for a refund which we got for our soup, We then thought we'd get a snack and walk round. Queues were so long, we had to buy a pack of biscuits from shop and eat that. When it's busy take your own food or be prepared to wait a long time.

Sue, 30/Oct/2017

We're sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy your experience in the restaurant, and we apologise for the mistake. We have sent your comments onto the restaurant team.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Amazing day out! We (four adults) arrived on 29th October having forgotten it was half term. We were dismayed to see all the cars and people, but Westonbirt were well prepared and we didnt ever have to queue long for toilets or food. Food and drink was reasonably priced and good quality and everyone disappeared onto the trails so it was never too crowded. Loved the trees and information - great day out. We'll be back

Linda, Andrew, Richard and Claire, 30/Oct/2017

So happy to hear that you enjoyed your visit to us - come back and see us again soon.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Great woodland....real shame about all the parents letting their out of control kids climb all over the beautiful Japanese Maples though. Kinda ruined my day!

mark, 29/Oct/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Lovely grounds with great facilities and gorgeous landscapes. Colourful trees. Really did not need the poetry on large red banners though. It spoilt the natural environment for us.

David and Karen, 29/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. Here at the arboretum we try out different ways to connect people with trees - and we feel that the eight poems on the banners help to express and capture the feelings of awe and wonder inspired by trees. The eight poetry installations are a temporary feature and will only be with us for the autumn, and they are confined to the Silk Wood.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Came during half term- like most of the South West-it was very busy. Was expecting massive queues to get in and at the cafe, but neither was the case. Well controlled entry to the site and extra food outlets made the whole thing run smoothly. Double the pay of your logistics team- it worked! Also the cafe staff similarly deserve a bonus, managing to serve, seat and clear after huge numbers of people efficiently and with a smile on their faces. Very impressive.

Susan, 29/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us such a lovely review. We're so glad you enjoyed your visit.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

We had a very pleasant walk along the Silk Wood trail but this was spoilt to some extent by having to constantly detour around dogs, many of them not on leads.

Anonymous, 28/Oct/2017

Thanks for sending us your feedback. We try to cater for the needs of all our guests by keeping the Silk Wood a dog friendly zone, and allowing them to be off the lead in this area as long as they are under control, but the Old Arboretum remains a dog-free zone. Whilst we do allow

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

We were looking forward to another lovely visit to Westonbirt and to find the Gruffalo with our grand daughter only to find the maps were very inaccurate and inadequate and we wasted a lot of time asking other families (who were also lost) trying to find that area. We feel the maps need to be greatly improved for visitors to find their way around.

We do love the beauty of Westonbirt apart from that and enjoy our visits normally.

Judith Eyres, 27/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send your feedback. We're sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your visit. We have passed your comments onto the team who put the map together.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

A very enjoyable recent visit. I was impressed by the new entrance building and walkway which had been built since my last visit a few years ago. Also great that you have a good no. of scooters. The one down-side remains the catering facilities which are rather disjointed, inefficient and unattractive plus the queues discourage one from staying. Perhaps improving that whole area could be your next big capital project?

Anonymous, 27/Oct/2017
1 Star 1 Star

Why can I not find the cost of entry on your website?

Keith, 27/Oct/2017

Admission prices can be found under the 'plan your visit' section of the website: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6xcmk2 We will endeavor to make this section clearer to visitors in future.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

We had a great afternoon with bright Autumn sunshine and took a number of photos of the light effects amongst the trees. Although very busy it was still possible to amble on the loop walk in peace and quiet which suited our son who has Asbergers..The shop was filled with lovely objects to buy and we greatly enjoyed the whole Westonbirt experience.One or two suggestions though.We would have preferred the walk to be marked with upright sign posts as although we are usually good map readers we lost our way several times and when crowded the green ground level arrows are hidden.The gruffalo was once more very elusive as someone with a young child stopped us to ask its whereabouts.

Lynn Burgess, 26/Oct/2017

Hi, Please could you advise how much entry / car parking costs?

Kind regards

Mike Pearson, 24/Oct/2017

For the autumn period, entry is £10 for an adult and £4 for a child. Further information on pricing can be found here: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-6xcmk2

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

We visited today and were impressed with the organisation and facilities provided. We were very sad to dee the ignorant behaviour of some people, who were causing damage to beautiful acers. For example people were clambering into trees for photo- opportunities, with no regard for the well-being of the trees. In one instance a mother encouraged her children to climb into an acer, causing at least one branch to break. She said it was an accident!

CathyF, 22/Oct/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Visited on 9th October..easy parking..easy entrance..loved the ambience of the arboritum..really pleasant staff in the cafeteria area and the shop..and a great range of gifts..wad really impressed with the size and scale of the place..plenty of space to get away in amongst the trees..will definitely be back with the family.

Susan Baggett, 22/Oct/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

I loved coming to this place with my granddaughter but was disappointed not to find The Gruffalo trail on your new Autumn map. We had to ask other walkers where it was.

Julie Belcher, 22/Oct/2017

Thanks for sending us your review. The Gruffalo Wood is marked on the Family Trail map, but is not on our seasonal trail map, your comments have been passed onto the team.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Hello, just to say we had a wonderful time, really noticed all the changes since we came a long time ago when our children were at home, and loved walking amongst the trees. It was super busy but worth the wait, and found a quiet bench just to take in the beauty and general loveliness....thank you, we will be back for the evening in December

diane corrister, 22/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your lovely review. We're thrilled you had a great time. Looking forward to seeing you at Enchanted Christmas

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

My husband and I visited Westonbirt on the 21st October 2017.We were warmly welcomed by all the staff.We didn't have a problem with queueing,which was good,as the weather was very blustery.I chose to push my husband in a wheelchair,although we did have the option of using a mobility scooter.The scenery was wonderful,and in the main,reasonably easy to access most areas.The one issue was the restaurant-it was a busy day,but I feel the size is far too small,and only the more able bodied would be able to enter.The only other choice was to have sandwiches/tea trying to find an area where we could shelter,away from the wind and rain!We also thought that the maps we were given,were quite difficult to understand,and we did meet several people who were in the same situation as ourselves.These issues didn't affect our enjoyable time at Westonbirt,but we would have given 5 stars instead of the 4.Thank you.

Anonymous, 22/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your lovely feedback. Your comments on how we could improve have been passed onto the restaurant and map teams.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Visited on the afternoon of the 14th October, a busy time but with so much space it didnt feel crowded. Car park was being managed so we were quickly directed to a space and bought tickets at an overflow entrance so in within 10 minutes.

Quite expensive for a family but worthwhile to see some spectacular tree avenues and of course the autumn colours. Amazing foresight from the original designers to plant such such a wide variety of species and sizes in a way that looks so perfectly planned many years later.

Children entertained by the freedom to roam, the felled logs, info boards (especially th stink tree) in the silk wood. Didnt venture far into the old arboretum but did walk across the new since our last visit Stihl bridge. Should have gone across earlier in the visit as its brilliant, entertaining facts along the architecturally impressive structure, a genuine tree top view and crows nest view point.

Wish I lived closer as its a good day out.

John & Non + 2, 21/Oct/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Fabulous place to visit. avoid the dogs by walking around the old section.

rob hook, 21/Oct/2017
4 Stars 4 Stars

Despite arriving after 10 o'clock because of a road closure we did not have to queue. The car parking attendants were delightful. We had a good walk and visited the restaurant for lunch. Although it was very busy, the queue moved quickly and the staff were pleasant and very efficient. The menu also catered for a wide range of dietary needs. The site is well served by loos and the ones we visited at the main entrance were clean and well maintained. Paths were smooth for wheelchair and buggy access. The only critisum would be the signage. Although proficient map readers, to much hilarity, we found ourselves doing the same route more than once and we were not the only ones. However all in all a very good day out.

J. Gunner, 21/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your review. We have passed your comments onto the team.

Forestry Commission Response
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