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

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

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
3 Stars 3 Stars

We went to Westonbirt on Sun 15th Oct hoping for a relaxing stroll amongst beautiful trees but instead found ourselves dodging a plethora of dogs and pushchairs, and queueing for entrance and food. It was much more pleasant last time we visited and I am not sure we will bother next year. Another visitor mentioned that you were turning Westonbirt into a theme park and I have to agree. As you are more interested in attracting families than plant lovers, I'll be taking my autumn walks elsewhere in future. A real shame.

Anonymous, 20/Oct/2017

We're sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your visit to us. As mid-October is our busiest time of year, some queuing is to be expected, but we are doing all we can to shorten the time that our visitors have to wait for entrance and food; this includes bringing in additional catering facilities for the autumn period, and additional staff at the Welcome Building helping with admissions. We try our utmost to ensure that there is something on site for everyone, that will appeal to both plant lovers and family visitors. We provide family arts and craft activities in the school holidays, and the Gruffalo and family seasonal trail; this is to ensure that we help families with children connect with the trees and inspire the next generation of nature lovers. We also provide for guests who want to come to see the many rare and remarkable trees we have here. We have the seasonal trail, which showcases some of the seasonal highlights of the arboretum, the Little Book of Disappearing Trees (in which readers can find and learn about some of the world's rarest trees), and much more.

Forestry Commission Response

We were thinking of visiting you but after reading visitors comments we think the 20 to enter we think we'll save our money

Roger Porter, 20/Oct/2017

Thinking about coming the weekend of the 4th Nov - will the colours still be bold and beautiful? Which weekend is best to come?

Thanks

Elisa, 20/Oct/2017

Although it is impossible to say for certain when the best time to visit the arboretum will be, we estimate that this year the best time will be over the next week or so. However, unless we get a sudden frost, you should still see some good late autumn colour. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Forestry Commission Response

To some extent I agree with the comments above but they are a bit polarised. I/we have visited westonbirt for 30 years and wonder why you don't seem to have a webcam it would be so useful before planning a 300 mile journey

Robert, 20/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. We have in the past looked into the possibility of a webcam, and hope to do so in the future. Currently the lack of signal onsite makes a webcam difficult to install, but this is hopefully something we can work around in the future. For the time being we have a weekly update on social media and our autumn colour hotline which is updated on a weekly basis (0300 067 5691)

Forestry Commission Response

Planning to visit 29 October. Can you confirm your Changing Places will be open and advise if Mobility shuttle service is wheelchair accessible.

Anonymous, 19/Oct/2017

The changing places will be open on the 29 October. At the moment we cannot accommodate wheelchairs on the shuttle service, but we do have mobility scooters available for hire. As these are popular they must be booked in advance by calling 0300 067 4861.

Forestry Commission Response

We will be visiting Westonbirt on 26th/27th October. We have purchased tickets already, and wonder if there is a way to avoid the queues? I am a paraplegic - so wheelchair bound and would also like to know if there are any 'better' accessible routes around the arboretum?

Sarah, 18/Oct/2017

Thanks for getting in touch. So happy to hear you are planning a visit to us. The best way to avoid the queues is to avoid arriving between 10:00 - 13:00, which tend to be our busiest arrival times. On arrival our car parking staff will be able to direct you to the disabled parking near the entrance to the arboretum. We have a network of hard-paths which are fully accessible around the arboretum. If you get a seasonal guide at the Welcome Building the hard paths are all marked on here. The seasonal autumn trail is fully accessible, and the trail map can also be found in the seasonal guide. We look forward to seeing you later this week.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

Great place, but just too many dogs. They're everywhere. I like to see a family dog, but it seems nowadays that one is not enough, you have to have two or three or more. OK, there are a couple of places they are not allowed but elsewhere they are a pain. Many are on leads but those leads that are extendable act just like tripwires. It's simply ridiculous.

Day Out Spoilt by Dogs, 17/Oct/2017

We're sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your visit to us. We try to cater to the needs of dog owners and non-dog owners by allowing dogs in the Silk Wood, but keeping the Old Arboretum a dog free zone.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Six of our group visited today 16/10/17. We had no problem queuing. Storm Ophelia produced an eerie light and red sun, making for a memorable day.

The tree colours, especially the maples, were stunning. We thought 10 was good value and information boards interesting for adults and children alike.

Alicat, 16/Oct/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

I have a season ticket so come to westonbirt every week, even when it is busy as now with the autumn colours it is possible to get away from the crowds and find peace and quiet to enjoy nature. Its a wonderful place to visit at all times of the year and I thoroughly recommend it.

Sue, 16/Oct/2017
4 Stars 4 Stars

Really enjoyed our visit on 11th October. However, the Westonbirt leaflet gave the entry price as 10, and 7 for "reductions". As pensioners we assumed we would be included in that description but were surprised to learn the person on the counter told us this was intended only for students and schoolchildren. We didn't press the point and paid the full price, but the wording in the leaflet was ambiguous! I have never been excluded from a concessionary rate anywhere else, so if the interpretation of the person at the desk is right this should be made clear in any publicity material.

Lynne Bennett, 16/Oct/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. Our policy at Westonbirt is to focus concessionary rates on those groups that most need them, who otherwise might not be able to visit the arboretum. At the moment we offer reduced prices to students and job seekers, and also to those who travel to the arboretum by bicycle or by public transport. We apologise that this was not clear on the leaflet, and will ensure that it is made clearer in future.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Visited yesterday, and it was pretty good. Am about to join up, as we visit so regularly, but there are a few points I would like aired.

1) You say 'Our policy at Westonbirt is to focus concessionary rates on those groups that most need them, who otherwise might not be able to visit the arboretum.'....but that surely must include pensioners and carers. An income reduction of two thirds on retirement is surely grounds for thought, and carers, well, they do an amazing job.

2) We have a grandson with T1 diabetes. He may develop an emergency situation, yet nowhere is the 'exit' route marked. Also, there is no way of navigating by way of marked junctions. And if one had to direct the emergency services to a location....well, you couldn't.

3) The traffic flow is pretty diabolical. We got there early, but not all can, and as we left about 1.00pm, there were massive queues on the main road.

4) Payment entry pinch-point is alarming. Many views already expressed about this, yet there will be more that can't be bothered to comment. You need to improve this, with better above the 'lanes' info, quicker software and hardware, and to be honest, quicker staff. Also, while it is natural to use the toilets after a long journey, and visit the information centre, too many people gather around that area. Obviously people with dogs too will leave them with another party member, so there is a massive presence of dogs, and some owners are very inconsiderate using extending leads, or allowing their dogs to jump up at you with the excuse 'she's only young, and very excitable'! Being dog owners, we are ok with this, but I see many children and some adults looking fearful, so you need to find ways of keeping that area clear.

We had a wonderful time, aided by good weather. We will be joining in the next few days, and hope to see some improvements that we and others have suggested.

Hammond family, 16/Oct/2017

Great to hear that you are thinking of joining the Friends, we hope that you enjoy your membership. We appreciate your feedback and have passed it onto the team. Whilst we do not offer concessionary rates to pensioners, carers do receive free entry to the arboretum when accompanying a disabled visitor. The safety of our visitors is of the utmost importance to us. We have first aiders onsite to be able to help in an emergency, and there are several additional entrances to the arboretum for the emergency services to get onto site quickly. In the event of an emergency, visitors should alert a member of staff at the Welcome Building (or the restaurant / shop if you are closer) who will immediately deploy our first aiders and if necessary contact the emergency services. As October is our busiest time of year some queuing is to be expected, but we are doing all we can to limit the amount of waiting our visitors have to do when visiting us, including working with a parking partner at peak times to manage the car park and queues, and having additional staff with ticket machines at the Welcome Building.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

We had a lovely visit to the Arboretum yesterday. It was busy, but we were very impressed with the car park organisation and the extra food stalls. We barely had to queue for parking or food. The leaf colours were wonderful and our daughter particularly enjoyed catching falling leaves and the Gruffalo trail! The morning was definitely a good time to visit as it was getting busier as we left.

Vicki, 16/Oct/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Brilliant poetry exhibition bu Marchant Barron. First visit to the Arboretum very impressed, though thought cafe expensive. Would like to have seen poetry on website.

Marchant Barron Exhibition, 16/Oct/2017
4 Stars 4 Stars

Visited on Sunday 15th October, very busy with several fields full as well as car park area. Well directed to space, queue to get in very long but well organised and in only 10-12 minutes were inside. Trees as ever colourful as expected. Lots of people and dogs and children on bikes/ in pushchairs.. future visitors and a learning experience to be encouraged. Extra catering and toilet facilities welcome. I would personally like to see better trail marking... perhaps colour coded and numbered posts to accord with a site plan. Could be helpful on such a large site. Overall a good 5 hours spent relaxing with the family, grandchildren, bikes and pushchairs included. Fresh air and wonderful surroundings well kept. Thank you Westonbirt staff.

Stephen Clarke, 16/Oct/2017
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