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

4 Stars 4 Stars

Pushing a manual wheelchair round the Silk Wood summer trail anti-clockwise, it took quite an effort to go up from the Waste Gate to the Silk Wood barn. Otherwise, the paths were easy and it's excellent for a wheelchair based trip. The disabled facilities were excellent and the staff very helpful. I was offered a motorised chair but it wasn't suitable for us.

Lesley V, 21/Jul/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

We joined for regular exercise that comes with ever changing views in a healthy environment with good facilities. Westonbirt did not disappoint. It offers one of the best value for money annual memberships you can find as you only have to visit 3-4 times to make it pay. It's an all year round place, not just Autumn. There are so many on and off-track routes you take, or just make up your own. Joining also means you can visit after the ticket office closes.

D&T, 19/Jul/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Fantastic first visit to Westonbirt. Arrived at by car 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. Well signposted, easy to find, and an excellent Car Park with nice wide spaces. And thankfully not too busy! Entrance was quick and easy with helpful staff, then the adventure began. A truly amazing place, the location is magical, while the size and scale of the collection is breathtaking and well worth the 80 mile journey from our home. In addition the entire site - at least as far as we saw over the 3 miles we walked - was incredibly well maintained. After all the walking you'll need a bite to eat and drink, so it's good to know the food and beverage options are excellent and exceeded our expectations. As something of a coffee snob I wasn't expecting anything special when I ordered a cappuccino but the quality was by some way better than your average Starbucks/Costa - it's all in the training and these guys have clearly had the training! F&B also reasonably priced - a refreshing change - and served in the centre of the Arboretum in a lovely oak framed, airy restaurant with full height glazing and obligatory green roof, with lovely views all around. So good we went back for a second cup of coffee after a couple more hours walking. My wife and I went with our sons, aged 12 and 10. The boys were a bit sceptical at first (what, a load of trees?), but they loved it just as much as us. We'll definitely return later in the year to see the effect of the changing seasons. A real treat to go somewhere so pretty, so well maintained, with great standards of service and yet not over-commercialised. Our congratulations to the entire team at Westonbirt for a great experience - we'll see you again soon!

The Rudges , 2/Jul/2017

Thanks for sending us your lovely feedback - we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Overall this is a well managed venue it must be really challenging to organise thousands of people safely and all the staff are up beat and not officious. We went to the Olly Murs concert and it was great, I do think it would have been better if there was some super sized screens around the venue, I only got to see him if someone moved out of the way and then only because there was a large screen showing him. When Louisa Johnson performed there was no screen so we never even got to see her at all until she performed with Olly.

We were parked in "Fox" and when we got to the queue from the car park we then had to walk a long way to the end of the queue and then walk that distance back again. Surely it would be better to filter people from the car parks into the question bit by bit.. apart from these two little gripes I love the venue the staff are excellent and plenty of clean porta-loos. I would like to know what the rules on smoking and vamping are? It is very unpleasant if you are next to someone smoking or vaping if you are a non smoker.

Suzanne Carver, 1/Jul/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback and suggestions. It's great to hear that you enjoyed the concerts. As a rule we do not provide large screens, and this is to keep ticket prices as low as possible. The hire of the screen, along with the associated cameras and staff significantly increase the cost of putting on the event, which would be reflected in the ticket price. Additionally, some artists prefer not to work with screens. Olly Murs team brought a screen with them, which was why one was used for his performance. Regarding parking we had new parking arrangements in place this year, and are working with our parking partners to refine the process for 2018, to ensure that leaving the site at the end of the evening is a smooth and stress free as possible for all our visitors. Regarding smoking and vaping, as the concerts are at an outdoor venue we do allow these at the concerts, but do ask that smokers/ vapers be considerate of others around them.

Forestry Commission Response

Today my wife and I enjoyed a visit to the Arboretum. I was surprised to notice there was no concession for pensioners. I think that this is a sad reflection on Forestry Commission attitude to senior citizens. Enough said ---

Philip pallot, 30/Jun/2017

Why have you closed the tree too walk way on a weekend?! Disappointed as we were looking forward to it.

Anonymous, 23/Jun/2017

Hi, We're sorry to hear you're disappointed about the closure of the walkway. Unfortunately, due to essential maintenance works we did have to close the walkway from Thurs 22 - Saturday 23 June, however, it has now re-opened to the public.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

Friends and I attended the Rick Astley concert on Saturday 17th June, the event was well managed and didn't take much time to get in or out.

A couple of super size screans would have been good as I couldn't see much of the stage from where I was.

I also think that a more up beat supporting artist would have been better, I do like Rumour's music, but it was like a wind down to Rick's show.

Ali, 22/Jun/2017

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback - we're so glad that you enjoyed the concert. The reason we tend not to provide large screens is that we are committed to keeping ticket prices as low as possible and the hire of the screen, associated cameras and staff would significantly increase the cost of putting on the event, which would be reflected in the ticket price. We have, though, passed your suggestion onto the events team, and will bear in mind when planning for next year.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

Further to Mike's comment below about exiting the car park following Elbow's concert, we had the same experience whilst leaving after Rick Astley. We were parked in N5 and were directed to the end of the exit queue by a marshall, where we sat without moving for 45 mins, all the while almost the entire area cleared by people not queuing where told and pushing in further down the line. After eventually moving we turned towards the main onsite road and were joined by a second line of traffic from areas N1-4 - and somewhere a third line of traffic appeared! As we approached the gate to turn left onto the main onsite road the three lanes had to go into one - and there ensued lots of tooting and road rage anger and basically whoever was fastest got through the gate first. All while a marshall watched the chaos unfurl! I was expecting the exit traffic to be managed much better than previous years due to a chunk of cars being parked in the school rather than onsite but it seemed a lot worse. Although we really enjoyed the concert we'll have to consider next year whether it's worth the hassle of the nightmare of the car park.

Vicky, 19/Jun/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your comments, we are continually looking for ways to improve, and welcome your feedback. I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience leaving the car park. As you can imagine, with thousands of people leaving the site at the end of the concerts, parking poses a continual challenge for us. We had new parking arrangements in place this year, and are working with our parking partners to refine and improve procedures for 2018 to ensure that leaving the car park is as easy and stress free as possible for our visitors. We have passed your comments onto the events team and they will be taken on board when planning for next year.

Forestry Commission Response

When will westonbirt be open to come for a day out with our dogs? Thanks Sian

Sian Coupland, 18/Jun/2017

Hi Sian, We are open everyday 9am - 5pm, last entry to the arboretum is at 4:30pm. Please note that dogs are welcome in Silk Wood, which makes up around two-thirds of the arboretum, however we do ask that the Old Arboretum remain a dog free zone. If you ask the staff at the Welcome Building as you come in they should be able to point you in the right direction. Please also be aware that this week Thursday 22 - Saturday 25 the STIHL Tree Top walkway and the path down to the café and shop will be closed for essential maintenance work. We hope you enjoy your visit to us and look forward to seeing you soon.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

Saw Elbow at Westonbirt on the 16th June 2017 who were fantastic.

Couple of problems in that there was a huge gap between the support act and Elbow which I think was caused by one act not appearing although there was no announcement.

Expected the usual car park problems when leaving the event but it was particularly bad at Westonbirt taking over an hour to move from the parking space with another 45 mins to finally get to the exit.

So a good evening spoilt by poor organisation and as such would not attend a concert again.

Mike, 16/Jun/2017

Hi Mike, Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. We do allow a gap in between the support act and the main act. This is to allow time for the backstage team to set up for the main act, and also time for our visitors to use the facilities and purchase refreshments, without missing any of the performance. We're sorry to hear that you had a bad experience leaving the car park. We had new parking arrangements in place this year and are working hard with our parking partner to improve the procedures for next year, to ensure that leaving the concert is as easy and stress free as possible for our visitors.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

I appreciate all the comments by dog walkers who want to let their dogs off the lead and I know it is difficult to keep everyone happy. However, this is supposed to be a sanctuary for wildlife too, and many owners just let their dogs crash around in the undergrowth and chase anything in sight. Some owners do not have their dogs under control and they rush up to people, disturb picnics, etc. and if you say anything they say "He is only playing, he won't hurt", or similar, and you have to fend off their dog. My daughter (adult) actually had her trousers torn and leg bruised by a loose dog running up from behind and nipping her leg. The owner did not apologise or get the dog back. I do not see why dogs should not be on leads everywhere except a fenced exercise area where they can play with other dogs off lead (similar to many places in America). They can have extendable leads elsewhere and that way cannot frighten or even injure people or disturb wildlife. Also I do not think this is a place where children can be allowed to rampage around willy-nilly, screaming their heads off, as the school parties often do in the old arboretum. This is definitely not the peaceful place it used to be and is definitely over-commercialised.

Anonymous, 13/Jun/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. We work hard at Westonbirt to strike the balance between providing a peaceful sanctuary, and a place where families can enjoy a fun day out. We provide 17 miles of pathway throughout the arboretum to try to ensure that visitors who wish to, can always find a peaceful spot away from the crowds, and we at all times ask our visitors to be mindful of others. We feel that by allowing dogs in Silk Wood, provided they are kept under control, and keeping the Old Arboretum dog free we cater for the needs of all our visitors, and provide a happy balance between a dog friendly site and a space where non-dog owners can enjoy a quiet walk in the woods.

Forestry Commission Response

I must support the previous correspondence about plastic entry cards. The current ones are not fit for purpose and it is certainly very unclear in the joining literature that replacements will be free.

Also, can you please make public when the arboretum will be open until 8pm for members? I would very much like to visit in the evening but won't make the trip until I'm sure I'll be able to get in.

Thank you

Anonymous, 12/Jun/2017

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback - we have passed your comments onto the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum team. The reason we do not issue plastic cards at present is that the barriers are unable to read plastic cards. The arboretum is open to members until 8pm until the 29 October 2017.

Forestry Commission Response



Thanks for getting in contact with us. We aim to provide a wonderful experience for dog lovers and non dog lovers alike here at Westonbirt Arboretum. For this reason, the Old Arboretum is a dog free zone, and so those who are a little nervous of dogs can enjoy their walks in this area. Be aware though that dogs are permitted off the lead in Silk Wood (as long as they are kept under control), and allowed on the downs whilst on the lead. If you ask our friendly staff at the Welcome Building they will be able to point you in the right direction into the Old Arboretum. We look forward to seeing you soon and hope you enjoy your visit to us.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

Westonbirt is a wonderful place. We have been members for 12 years and have very much enjoyed walking our dogs in Silk Wood. However, we are unlikely to renew our membership this year due to all the changes. Silk Wood was always completely accessible to dog walkers, but now with the Skywalk and numerous trails, it is very difficult to walk your dog off lead when there are picnics and children on bikes/scooters everywhere. I appreciate the changes have probably attracted more visitors and that times change, but what a shame for the core groups of members who have supported Westonbirt for a number of years. What once was a beautiful, peaceful and rugged place now just feel very commercial.

Anonymous, 6/Jun/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your comments. We appreciate that there have been many changes in recent years, and that our long term members have felt these changes the most. Please be assured that all changes have been planned with great care and with the utmost respect for the landscape. We feel that the Walkway provides an excellent visitor experience for all, providing stunning views and the chance to learn more about the many rare trees we have here. It has also improved access into Silk Wood for our visitors with mobility scooters. We work hard to ensure that the Arboretum continues to provide a place where people can escape to the peace and tranquility of the woods. There are 17 miles of pathway on site, ensuring that people can always find a quiet spot, and during the summer, members are welcome to stay onsite until 8pm, when the site is less busy.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

I've been a member for many years, primarily for some peaceful dog walking in lovely surroundings. As such I probably visit 4 times a week during the lighter months. There's been a lot of changes through the years, mostly for the better, however there are a couple of comments I would raise:

1. Re the complaints about dogs. If you ever banned them or demanded leads in Silk Wood you'd lose *a lot* of members. The non dog owning public already have a dog-free half of the arboretum to enjoy - if they want to enjoy Silk Wood as well they should man-up and deal with dogs....just as I have to man up and deal with people's children.

2. Allowing bikes and scooters was a very, very bad idea in my view. The result on a busy summer weekend is a lot of young children whizzing along the paths at speed and I've witnessed less nimble walkers get crashed into. There's simply no need for it - they have young legs, use them!

3. I would be very saddened if the 'wild woods' part of Silk Wood ever became gentrified. Over the years I've seen it cut back more and more to make way for sanitised glades and, whilst they are nice, there is a beauty to the more untamed woodland environment - plus it attracts more wildlife. My particular favourite is the boundary woodland path that many occasional visitors don't discover - I think of it as the 'secret' of locals and it's lovely. Please never lose it!

Emma, 31/May/2017

I've been a member at Westonburt for longer than I care to remember, I've spent so many happy days here with my children, who are now young adults, enjoying all that you've had to offer over the years.

Once they got older and no longer wanted to visit as often I got a dog so I could still visit regularly and enjoy the wonderful surroundings that really are my 'Happy Place.'

I did miss the side of the Arboretum that I was so familiar with and all the little benches, Lime Avenue and all the little picnic spots that I'd loved for years but was happy to go and explore Silkwood side more as I had not spent so much time there.

I've been happy doing this for the last 5 years and so has my dog.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of the new bridge and the Childress trails it now so much harder having a walk with your dog without the disruption of parents expecting you to put your dog on a lead every time you walk past a child. Also looking at you like you shouldn't be there! In years past if families walked in Silkwood they knew that there would be dogs there just as I did for all those years.

I feel that to make things fair with everyone, especially people like me who have supported you for over 20 years that consideration should be made on letting dogs use the whole Arboretum whether dogs are on or off the lead or maybe offer a discounted membership.

I will for this reason not be renewing my membership next year unless this is done.

Very sad member , 10/May/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. At Westonbirt, we work hard to ensure that dog owners and non-dog owners alike are able to enjoy the arboretum and all it has to offer. For this reason we keep the Silk Wood a dog friendly, while asking that the Old Arboretum remain a dog free zone. Please rest assured that you are still very welcome to take well behaved dogs into the Silk Wood area.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

This really is a gorgeous place but there is always room for improvement -

1. Myself and my partner have been members here for over 5 years and for some reason they keep issuing paper membership cards that literally fall apart after about a month's use. It would be more economical and cheaper for you to issue plastic cards or keyring cards similar to supermarket cards, that were valid for say 3 - 5 years, and if someone does not renew after a year, the card simply declines entry. I would also pay extra for the card to be made and I'm sure many would.

2. It is not clear whether members can still access the arboretum after the official times. As in the past it used to be open until around 8 or 8 PM in the summer months which was lovely.

3. I think the events at Westonbirt are a great idea, but I think you should still have events where classical music can be enjoyed or something for families. These events have been held here in the past and were excellent.

Sadly we will not be renewing our memberships as in the past 3 years we have had to have over 5 replacement cards due to them falling apart or fading away (where the barcode is printed directly onto the paper and there is no lamination) With all the money that Westonbirt makes, it would be nice to see the small things taken care of.

Anonymous, 9/May/2017

Thanks for sending us your review and your suggestions for improvement. Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to offer plastic cards to Friends of Westonbirt members. This is because the barriers at the Welcome Building are unable to scan-read a plastic card. We will replace all damaged cards free of charge. Members are still able to access the arboretum until 8pm during the summer months. Our events team works to ensure that we have a wide range of different activities onsite throughout the year, from pop concerts, to family arts and craft events in the holidays, 10k runs and much more. We will soon be looking at our events schedule for next year and will certainly take your suggestion of another classical concert on-board.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

I still like Westonbirt but am not alone in trying to avoid visiting during school holidays or on event days as I much prefer tranquillity, a commodity which the Forestry Commission seems not to be the only body making it an increasingly distant memory. Extra car parking was much needed and I guess it had to be further away from the facilities. As I get older this has become noticeably more of a trudge. I am rather underwhelmed by the elevated walkway and struggle to see it worth the expense. Could not some money have been spared to bring back the covered seating cabins with even another couple added. It was always nice to sit in the shade, or out of the wind or on a bench less likely to be splattered with bird droppings. Does the FC fancy introducing an area or two at Westonbirt with a minimum age requirement for access? After all, the number of wrinklies is supposed to be growing!

David, 4/May/2017

Thanks for sending us your review. We understand that many of our visitors love Westonbirt because it provides a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, and we work to protect this tranquility. For this reason we have over 17 miles of pathway onsite, ensuring that at peak times it is still possible to find a quiet place to escape to. We are always looking for ways to improve and so have passed on your request to the team.

Forestry Commission Response

Visited for the first time this weekend as we are not from this area. Absolutely shocked at the 10 per head entry price which was not advertised anywhere we could see before entering. Park was not at all busy and this is probably why. Whilst it is very nice, can't say I enjoyed it any more than Sherwood Forest, for example, which only charges 3 for your car and that is it.

Anonymous, 1/May/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. In order to provide all our visitors with a great experience and to continue to care for the many remarkable and rare trees we have here, we do charge a £10 entrance fee. We are completely not-for-profit and all fees go into caring for the nation's trees and forests. We try to ensure we provide excellent value for money by having a range of activities (guided walks, Birt's I-Spy adventure, family events in the school holidays, seasonal trails) completely free after entry, as well as features such as the STIHL TreeTop Walkway.

Forestry Commission Response
3 Stars 3 Stars

We've been members for many years but I think this year we may have to reconsider re-newing our membership. I'm all for everyone enjoying the Arboretum especially the younger generation but in our opinion the target market now seems to be families. We took an elderly member of our family last week and we're surprised that there was not a concession entry price for senior citizens either.

What used to be a quiet walk with our dogs at the end of a tiring week is no longer, I fully appreciate the need to bring more income in but please don't forget your customers without young children who don't want to follow a gruffolo trial or be nearly knocked over by children on bikes, we can't always get there during the week when it's quieter. There was a family today who decided to sit right in the middle of one of the grass walk ways whilst they picked the wildflowers. There also seems to be an increase in the negative comments about dog walkers...ever since the treetop walkway was installed?!

We really don't want to be grumpy moo's but please don't forget the people that have supported you for years, like someone else has said maybe it would be a good idea to open up the car park again behind the restaurant so that you could start a walk from there to avoid the trail..also in the winter some of the back routes are not always accessible due to mud but of course that's no ones fault!!

It's just a thought as we love the Arboretum and want to continue enjoying it but time will tell but we seem to be outsiders now in a place where we once felt welcome.

Anonymous, 17/Apr/2017

We're sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your visit to us. One of our aims at Westonbirt is to connect everybody with trees, and we work hard to ensure that there is something for everyone onsite. We were very busy last week with the Easter school holidays but please rest assured that we value all our customers and try to ensure that there is adequate provision both for families and those who wish to have a relaxing walk through the woods. Though we do have features aimed at children, such as the Gruffalo trail, there are 17 miles of pathway through the arboretum, where other visitors can escape to the peace and quiet of the woods. We do appreciate that there have been many changes onsite in recent years - and that our long term members have felt the effects of this. All changes have been made to protect and preserve the remarkable landscape of Westonbirt and enhance the visitor experience. The reason that the car park was moved was to ensure the conservation of the Grade 1 listed landscape of the arboretum and Downs.

Forestry Commission Response

Wonderful place to escape to. Seems as though the most negative comments relate to dogs. I come at least once a week with my Labrador who, like me, loves it. Considerate dog owners...never seen an unpicked up 'present' and all dogs off leads friendly and playful...but I would like to see a few more poo bins in Silk Wood...perhaps disguised by wood cladding?

Luanne, 17/Apr/2017

Thanks for sending us your feedback and suggestion of more dog poo bins in Silk Wood. Your suggestion has been forwarded onto the team and we will review our facilities to ensure that there are adequate provision for dogs owners.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Just beautiful, even on a busy Easter Sunday the car park was well managed and the arboretum can absorb so may people you still enjoy the peace and serenity of those wonderful trees.

Anonymous, 16/Apr/2017
5 Stars 5 Stars

Had a wonderful day at Westonbirt. Fantastic walks past the stunning spring flowering Rhododendrons, absolutely breathtaking colours. So many beautiful trees & plants to admire. Brilliant Bluebells, dramatic Acer's & incredible Rhododendrons, what's not to love. Lots to keep children happy and very dog friendly. We will definitely come again,thank you.

Lynn Mander, 14/Apr/2017

Thanks for your lovely review! We're so happy you enjoyed your visit to us and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Thank you to Liz and Marcus who showed us the highlights of the Old Arboretum today - a very informative and enjoyable visit. The treetop walk, accessible to buggies and mobility scooters, is even better than the one in Kew gardens!

M D V, 12/Apr/2017
4 Stars 4 Stars

I haven't been there but my daughter went on school trip and she enjoyed it and I would like to take her there again but I have a question, can we have barbeque there? Thanks

Shams, 12/Apr/2017

Thanks for sending us your feedback, and we are so glad that your daughter enjoyed her school trip here. We do not allow barbeques onsite as they are a fire hazard, but there are many picnic areas in the Arboretum.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Lovely place. Lots of nice dogs with considerate owners and no mess to be seen. Nice lunch in restaurant served by charming staff. Ignore negative comments and see for yourself.

Anonymous, 9/Apr/2017

Thanks for the lovely review. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

I really love this place. Live locally and I have been visiting for the past 10 years, walking my dogs. I have seen a lot of people complaining about dog mess but every owner I see picks up their dog's mess. Recently I think the arboretum has become less dog friendly, probably due to people constantly complaining. Such a shame as it is equally a beautiful for place for people and dogs to visit.

Anonymous, 8/Apr/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us your lovely review. We are working to keep the arboretum a place where dog owners and non-dog owners can walk and enjoy the arboretum. We feel that we achieve this by having the Old Arboretum dog free, but keeping Silk Wood (which makes up around two-thirds of the site) dog friendly.

Forestry Commission Response

I was really looking forward to looking forward to revisiting the arboretum but after all the negative reviews I don't think I will bother, shame!

Anonymous, 7/Apr/2017

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback. We work hard to ensure that all our guests have a positive experience and feel that the vast majority of our visitors come away having had a great time at the arboretum. Earlier this year we received the Visit England Gold Accolade and we receive a lot of very positive feedback on both social media and trip advisor We hope you will come and pay us a visit soon.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

This has to be one of the many beautiful places we have in this country. We love to walk here each week, to see how the walks change on a weekly basis and to see the trees and flowers is just wonderful. Our dogs love it as we do. The staff are also so wonderful and helpful in this stressed life a lot of us now live this is the way to relax. To us this is the best annual membership such good value for money.

Liz Cornish, 4/Apr/2017

Thanks for taking the time to send us such a lovely review. We look forward to seeing you again very soon.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

I'm a ten year member and so disappointed at the continued 'Disneyfication' of the arboretum. How can a 'national arboretum' not even sell trees? There is an ever increasing focus on kids and suburban entertainment. You encourage visitors to report irresponsible dog owners but children run wild, the paths are ever wider and signage is brash. Such as shame as it used to be so lovely.

Jonniej, 29/Mar/2017

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to send us your comments. At Westonbirt we are committed to providing a range of activities and information to allow everyone to connect with and learn about the amazing trees we care for here. We provide children's activities and events throughout the year (such as the Gruffalo Spotters Trail and the Family Events) in order to inspire the next generation of tree lovers, but we also try to ensure that there is plenty of space for our other guests to escape, relax and learn about trees, with 17 miles of path way throughout the arboretum, and events for adults such as our Discovery Sessions. Though our Plant Centre used to sell plants, unfortunately it had to close due to lack of demand. The Westonbirt shop now has some plants available for purchase. We have a range of pathways throughout the arboretum, from wider hard-paths and woodchip tracks, which allow visitors on mobility scooters and pushchairs to explore the arboretum, but we also have smaller tracks through the trees. We appreciate that there have been many changes in recent years (such as the Welcome Building and STIHL Treetop Walkway), but please rest assured that all changes have been made to enhance the visitor experience and to enable people to learn about and enjoy the arboretum.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

I haven't visited yet and am unlikely to as I have reviewed all the comments over the past 6 months or so and all I read from the responses is ' we will pass that onto our team' or 'we are looking into upgrading our dog policy' when 99.5% of the comments relate to dogs dog poo and the quality of the food but appears despite numerous comments and complaints very very little has been done to address these issues. I am sure there are many like me that really check the reviews prior to visiting albeit a venue such as yours or a resturant. So until I see reviews reflecting real action from the FC and not placating responses to the paying clients complaints then I will give it a miss.

Geoff Wheatley, 28/Mar/2017

Hi, thanks for sending us your comments. Please rest assured that we do all we can to address visitor's feedback and to ensure that where possible we come up with effective solutions to problems. For instance, we ensure that there are an adequate number of bins for use by dog walkers onsite and that bags for their use are provided. We also feel that our policy of having Silk Wood dog-friendly and the Old Arboretum dog-free allows both kinds of visitors to enjoy the arboretum. We are also looking into ways to improve service at the restaurant, and are in discussion with the restaurant team about this at the moment. Our comments are in no way meant to be placating and we have a real desire to see to it that all problems are addressed. We do receive a lot of lovely feedback both on the website and on trip advisor etc.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

We visited for the first time on Mothers Day and completed the Gruffalo spotter walk which was brilliant! We couldn't stop telling everyone what a great day out we all had! Unfortunately the only negative was the restaurant which was unable to serve food as the chef had walked out!! I fully appreciate you couldn't predict this happening but at the end of the walk to not even get a sandwich was very disappointing!

Emma, 28/Mar/2017

Thanks so much for taking the time to send us your feedback. We're so glad you enjoyed the Gruffalo trail, and apologize that you were not able to have a bite to eat at the restaurant. We have taken your comments on board and are planning to review our procedures so we can continue to provide food for guests in exceptionally busy periods moving forward.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Spent my mother's day with my family on a beautiful walk at the Arboretum. Absolutely lovely, everyone enjoying a beautiful place

Jean membury , 26/Mar/2017

So glad you enjoyed your visit to us, we hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

Forestry Commission Response
4 Stars 4 Stars

A beautiful day for a mothers day trip to westonbirt with 3 generations & 2 dogs. As a member I know we can only walk in Silk Wood as the Old Arboretum is a dog free zone so we tend to walk first, stop for food then return to the car via a second silk wood walk. This didn't happen today. Our walk was cut short as we got to the restaurant, waited in a rather large queue only to be told at 13.40 there was no more hot food or sandwiches as 'the chef has walked out'! Surely the kitchen staff are able to make and provide a basic sandwich without the need for a chef even if it's limited fillings. With no other places to purchase sensible, savoury food, we had to cut our visit short & return home. A very disappointing end to what should have been a lovely 3 generation mother's day out. The restaurant is definitely going down hill both in terms of service and choice & there is a real lack of facilities if you have dogs i.e. nowhere to sit and eat under cover if weather inclement. Please, please do something about this before you lose members and regular visitors. Thank you.

Alison Collyer , 26/Mar/2017

Thank you so much for taking the time to send us your feedback. I'm so sorry that your visit was spoiled, and understand your frustration. I have passed your comments onto the restaurant team and we will take your comments on board going forward, as well as reviewing our food arrangements for very busy days to ensure we can cope with demand.

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

Lovely and tranquil

jane hynes, 26/Mar/2017

I note that the FC is advising that dog owners/walkers should adopt a "stick and flick" method of disposing of dog waste instead of using poo bags. Does Westonbirt intend to ask visitors to spread their animal's waste matter into the trees of Silk Wood or over the Downs and make the place unpleasant for everyone else? You provide both bags and bins so there is no excuse for people not to clean up properly after their animals.

Concerned regular visitor, 15/Mar/2017

Thank you for raising your concerns with us. The Forestry Commission does not encourage visitors to 'stick and flick' in areas with high people traffic, such as Westonbirt. We ask that all dog owners who visit us to bag the dog waste and either bin it in one of the bins provided or take it home with them. We are only suggesting the ‘stick & flick’ alternative in more remote areas of Forestry Commission property, where dog mess is then moved to areas where people are very unlikely to tread.

Forestry Commission Response
2 Stars 2 Stars

We have been members for twenty years and I can agree with the comments about over commercial exposure. The aboretum is currently heading towards a municipal park. Where has the vision of the natural woodland setting gone. Why so many conifers these are neither rare unique or interesting. Move the gruffalo trail to the Old Aboretum children would enjoy the flowering trees. Why so many very high environmental impact paths. How long will Holford vision last, it seems to be disappearing under the modern 'more money more visitors' pressure that modern exploitation of resources for commercial gain. Not much of a vision for the future. Maybe commercially dog owners will be spreadsheeted off as their contribution can be made up with greater overexposure.

David and clare, 11/Mar/2017

Hi, Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback, it is very much appreciated. We appreciate your concerns and please be assured that we work hard to ensure that the picturesque landscape of the Arboretum is maintained, while also allowing people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the woodland and learn about the amazing trees we care for here. We appreciate that there have been many changes in recent years, such as the Welcome Building and the STIHL Tree Top Walkway. At every point these changes have been planned with great care and with respect to the historic and picturesque landscape. The changes have been put in place to ensure that as many people as possible can come and learn about trees and experience the magic of the Arboretum. We are completely not-for-profit and all money goes back into caring for and maintaining the UK's forests. The reason we have conifers is that it is important to maintain a diverse selection of tree species. The conifers provide a stunning contrast to the deciduous trees, creating the beautiful landscape of Westonbirt, and are very lovely to look at in the winter when other trees are bare. We do have some very rare and critically endangered conifers on-site as well as more standard ones, such as yews, which form an essential part of the landscape. Although not all of our conifers are rare, we feel that they are very beautiful to look at and add to the picturesque landscape. The Gruffalo trail has been placed in SilkWood to ensure that families with and without dogs can come and enjoy the trail. We have a range of pathways at Westonbirt, from hard-paths and woodchip trails to simpler tracks through the woods. We like to have hard-paths onsite so that visitors with mobility scooters, prams, etc. can visit the arboretum easily. We try to ensure that the arboretum is a magical place to visit for dog-walkers and non-dog-walkers alike, and we feel we achieve this by having Silk Wood as a dog-friendly zone and the Old Arboretum dog free.

Forestry Commission Response
1 Star 1 Star

I am dismayed by what I view as the 'Disneyfication' of Silk Wood.

Whilst I understand the desire to increase accessibility and commercial scope, this has to be carefully balanced with maintaining the character and atmosphere of the wood. Sadly I feel a line has been crossed and Silk Wood has already lost much of it's charm. Ironically, by removing the disabled parking spaces from Skilling Gate, you have rendered it inaccessible to many.

Deborah, 22/Feb/2017

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback, it is very much appreciated. We work hard to make sure that the Arboretum appeals to a range of visitors, with activities for children in some areas, and quiet walking areas in others. We try to ensure that the arboretum is as accessible to all as possible. There are disabled spaces available in the car park and we also have mobility scooters available for hire from the Welcome Building so that everyone can experience the arboretum. More information on this can be found on our website:

Forestry Commission Response
5 Stars 5 Stars

We are Westonbirt member and have visited for many years with our dogs.

Whilst I appreciate that everyone wants to enjoy the site and and may not like dogs, I do feel that I have to stick up for all the responsible dog owners that enjoy Westonbirt in all weathers to walk their dogs and chill out from the working day/week. In all the years I have been going there I have not yet met one dog owner who wasn't friendly, but I do have to say I have noticed dog muck lately which is inexcusable as free dog poop bags are's a pity that the bin along the path just past the bridge had been removed however.

We tend to stick to the back routes to avoid the crowds and are dogs are not let off their leads until we have left the main paths...which from what I've seen most dogs owners do. We have never been in the Old Arboretum with our dogs as obviously we are not allowed too.

A few times we have very nearly been knocked off our feet by children riding bikes or scooters but just see it as children letting off steam. I have never seen a dog using the bridge as a pooing area...what the heck?!!!

Not all people like dogs but I really hope that Westonbirt don't let the minority spoil it for others or rethink their dog friendly policy as that would be a real shame...we're a nation of dog lovers after all. Hopefully we can continue to enjoy it together!

Anonymous, 19/Feb/2017

To the family who attempted to visit on 8.2.17. The website clearly says under Plan your visit,the price to get in. I can't find anything about paying for parking

Anonymous, 19/Feb/2017
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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.