Westonbirt Arboretum review – fun family days out post-lockdown near Cheltenham

Cheltenham, Days Out, Reviews
Westonbirt review family days out near Cheltenham, Gruffalo trail
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Since lockdown eased we’ve used our annual passes to Westonbirt Arboretum twice. Both visits to Westonbirt have been perfect, socially distanced days out. Relaxing, well planned and very family friendly.

We already had annual memberships to Westonbirt and have visited many many times, so it is without a doubt definitely somewhere I would recommend for a fun family day out with kids, even though it is around 40-50 minutes drive from Cheltenham.

Our kids love taking their scooters as there are endless paths for them to scoot freely on and as social distancing and numbers are well limited, this is something that is also brilliant now we are social distancing. They also love the play areas, play trails, Gruffalo statues etc., especially now they are age 3 and 5, they can both do most things.

Westonbirt family days out social distancing August 2020 fun

Westonbirt Review post lockdown

How to visit Westonbirt post-lockdown

Prebooking online is necessary as time slots do book up and that’s the only way you’re getting in. You must arrive within your 20 minute slot.

Pre-book Westonbirt Tickets here

Tickets are free to book for members, and for non-members tickets currently cost – Adults £11, Students/Jobseekers £7, Children age 5-18 years £4 (September 2020)

Tickets can be pre-booked up to 7 days in advance.

On arrival

We allow 1 hour to get to Westonbirt from Cheltenham and, now having visited twice since lockdown started easing we’ve never found a queue to get in.

There are lots of social distancing signs and markers as you approach the entrance. At the entrance you just need to show your ticket (we show our code on our phones) and membership card if necessary. It all seems very well planned, and to work.

Westonbirt review post-lockdown family days out near Cheltenham Gloucestershire

Exploring Westonbirt with the family

There are so many paths Westonbirt is just lovely and there is always a Gruffalo trail, good tree to play in, or something to keep the kids moving on and happy.

Westonbirt review post-lockdown tree climbing family days out near Cheltenham Gloucestershire

It feels very normal at Westonbirt, I think as the whole place is huge and people are usually walking across the grass and off the paths anyway.  Scooting around we haven’t had any issues – everyone really moved to the sides of paths and if they didn’t, well there is tonnes of room to go on the grass. There aren’t really any reasons to be close to people. I’d say the only exception was when we were in the wooden play area in Silk Wood and dogs started running around.

Currently, the woodland play area, nature play trail are open, with only Exploratree (the bit play area by the cafe), closed.

Westonbirt Arboretum review post-lockdown family days out near Cheltenham Gloucestershire

Toilets area open, as are the restaurant and kiosk are open – although there is only outdoor seating (all very spaced out), and a one way system operating, and only contactless card payments allowed. The Welcome Building and shuttle service are also closed.

This summer there are ‘Plant Hunters Academy’ packs available free, you just pick one up just inside the entrance.

We usually take the picnic blanket to sit on for lunch, but there are plenty of tables all distanced near the cafe, and also benches as you walk around. We also usually take the pushchair for B, as she does get tired at times being only just 3.

Westonbirt review post-lockdown reopened family days out near Cheltenham Gloucestershire

Within Westonbirt there are two areas, one where dogs are allowed and one where dogs are not allowed.

We used to visit Silk Wood alot and mainly walked and let H scoot. Now the kids are bigger they love the nature trails, Gruffalo Trails and all of the exploring they can do freely within the Old Arboretum.

Silk Wood

Allows dogs.

Located across the huge bridge – the STIHL Treetop Walkway – located to the left when you enter.

You can find the Gruffalo’s Child here (located ) but the rest of the Gruffalo characters (to my knowldge!) are located in the Old Arboretum which is a dog free area.

Woodland Play Area

The kids absolutely love the slides and logs to balance along in the woodland play area and were so glad it was open, even though the big play area by the cafe was shut.

Old Arboretum

Dog free area, located to the right when you enter.

We always find this area much quieter, and often see barely anyone. It is very relaxing with many good trees for the kids to play in and the Gruffalo statues.

Gruffalo Sculpture Trail

The kids absolutely loved finding all the Gruffalo characters in the Gruffalo Sculpture Trail.

Gruffalo Orienteering Course

Located across the Old Arboretum using fixed numbered signs which feature each Gruffalo character. Gruffalo Orinteering Map and Information can be found here on the Westonbirt website.

Nature Play Trail

Build dens, balance across logs and stumps, and so much to keep the kids occupied. This is one of our favourite areas of Westonbirt.


WESTONBIRT for fun days out social distancing?

Yes, absolutely!

This was our first socially distanced pre-booked day out at a ‘place’ which, in itself was a bit scary and daunting, but, in reality, absolutely was not. Social distancing was easy, gates propped open, picnic tables scattered, very few people, a good entry and exit system, leading to a lovely relaxed day. The kids were exhausted, and we had a lovely time too.

Westonbirt family days out near Cheltenham Gloucestershire post lockdown social distancing


Suitable for pushchairs!!

Prebook tickets

Firstly tickets must be pre-booked online. So all you do is show your paper receipt or phone ticket.

Pre-book on their websitehttps://www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt-the-national-arboretum


  • Toilets are open.
  • Cafe and kiosk are serving take away – all sign posted, one way systems and socially distanced.
  • Outdoor seating only – all spread out.
  • Woodland Play Area open
  • CLOSED: Welcome Building, Indoor cafe seating, Exploratree play area by the cafe, Shuttle Service

Westonbirt Entry Cost:

September 2020

  • Adults – £11
  • Students/job seekers – £7
  • Children 5-18 years – £4

Westonbirt membership

We are members of Westonbirt (costs around £76 for a couple and we can take in up to 4 kids) , so we only need to vist around 3 times a year to break even. This also lets us pre-book Enchanted Christmas before tickets to are released to non-members.

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