A family visit to Batsford Arboretum, Cotswolds

by Jan

Batsford Arboretum is a large woodland garden near Moreton-in-Marsh in the north Cotswolds.  Spread over 56 acres, this arboretum provides a beautiful outdoor space, with plenty of areas for kids to explore.  We made a family visit to Batsford Arboretum on our recent stay in the Cotswolds.

Luckily, Batsford Arboretum was not far from where we were staying in the historic market town of Chipping Campden.  We went one afternoon after a busy morning exploring the  nearby village of Bourton-on-the Water.  Read on to discover the best things to do at Batsford Arboretum.

Trees at Batsford Arboretum, Batsford, Cotswold, UK

Batsford Arboretum is home to one of the UK’s largest private tree collections and showcases a unique selection of trees and shrubs from around the world.

Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford created the remarkable gardens in the late 1800s, after inheriting the Batsford Estate.  Previously, he’d worked abroad in China and Japan and you can still see a lot of oriental influence in the gardens today.

Bridge and river, Batsford Arboretum, Cotswold, UK

As you’d imagine, the arboretum has trees of all shapes and sizes, so there’s plenty of variety.  In fact, the kids really liked the informality of Batsford Arboretum and the absence of neat flower beds!

In addition to this, they liked the assortment of other kid-friendly features.  They found a walk-through hermit’s cave, a walk-under waterfall, several statues, and a bog garden.

We had a route map to follow, with a useful guide to what we were seeing.  However, it was easy to divert if we wanted a closer look at anything.

Allow about two hours for your visit to Batsford Arboretum.

The old sheep wash

yellow skunk cabbage, Batsford, Cotswold, UK

Funnily enough, the bog garden was created in an old sheep wash.  This swamp area is now a pretty pond area with attractive plants and wildlife.  It’s hard to imagine it was formerly used to clean Cotswold sheep!

Apparently, as the area never dries up, it’s absolutely perfect for moisture loving plants.  We saw plenty of yellow skunk cabbage, a plant I always remember because of its fantastic name!

The bog garden is also a haven for aquatic life.  In the summer the area attracts dragonflies and some endangered newts.  We must have been too early in the year, as all we could see was one fastidious duck making the most of the washing facilities!

Duck at Batsford Arboretum, Cotswolds, UK

Batsford House

As you navigate round the arboretum you’ll spot the neo-Tudor Batsford House in the distance.  Unfortunately, it’s now a private house and not open to the public.

In fact, the house that stands today is not the original manor.  It’s a replacement for the Georgian house, knocked down by Mitford shortly after inheriting the estate.

Batsford House, Batsford, Cotswolds, UK

Trees at Batsford Arboretum

As you’d expect, Batsford Arboretum has an extensive tree collection.  This comprises rare trees from around the world, including Norwegian spruces and mighty redwoods.

As we were there in spring, we also enjoyed the last of the daffodils, covering the floor in vast carpets of yellow.  It was also the ideal time to see spectacular displays of pink flower from the cherry blossoms and pink magnolias.

Huge Magnolia Tree, Batsford, Cotswold, UK

Batsford is a great all-year arboretum and the colours in Autumn from the Japanese Maples are apparently stunning.

One of the most interesting trees was the Cathedral Lime.  You can see 15 suckers that have grown from the original tree and taken root in the vicinity.  Amazingly, the host tree is about 200 years old, and some of its dependents are already 100.

Japanese Rest House

One of the best things to do for kids at Batsford Arboretum is visit the Japanese zone.

The Japanese Rest House is one of the features influenced by Milford’s time in Asia.  Look out for the dragon on the roof, put there to ward off evil spirits.  And, in front of the house you’ll see a golden Buddha and bronze statues of Japanese deer.

Batsford Arboretum, Cotswold, UK

Running down one side of the arboretum is a stream with three oriental red bridges.  In fact, the stream isn’t real, but an artificial watercourse, created by Mitford.  Nevertheless, it is still very pretty and perfect for a photo stop!

Batsford Chinese Lion, Batsford Arboretum, Cotswold, UK

Visitor Centre

To access Batsford Arboretum you must walk through the Visitor Centre.  This area includes a garden centre, gift shop and tea shop.  If you are visiting with kids, there’s a playground with a big sand pit by the café.

Lastly, we stopped at the paddock by the car park to stroke the very gorgeous donkey.

For full details of admission prices and opening times click here.

Other things to do near Batsford Arboretum

The Cotswold Falconry Centre

Whilst you’re at Batsford Arboretum you could visit the Cotswold Falconry Centre, which is adjacent to Batsford garden centre.  The centre is home to about 150 birds of prey.

Throughout the day the centre hosts flying demonstrations and trainer talks, so you can see the birds in action.

If you combine a visit to both attractions, you’ll get a 10% discount.  Click here for more details of prices at Batsford.

Cotswold Archery

Another family attraction at Batsford is Cotswold Archery.  They have a dedicated archery range at Batsford and run pre-booked archery experiences for all abilities, from 8 years old.

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower, Broadway, Cotswolds, UK

Another stunning attraction to visit near Batsford is the pretty village of Broadway and Broadway Tower.

Broadway Tower is the second highest point in the Cotswolds and has view stretching over 16 counties.  You can walk to the tower from the historic village of Broadway or drive up to the car park.

The iconic Broadway Tower stands within Broadway Tower Country Park, managed by the National Trust.  Once you’ve got to the top you can visit the café or just stop to admire the views. Click here for more details on a walk to Broadway Tower.

Getting to Batsford Arboretum

The easiest way to get to Batsford Arboretum is by car.  It is a short distance from Moreton-in-Marsh from the A44.  The postcode is GL56 9AT  .

Alternatively you could walk on the Monarch’s Way, which is only 1.7 miles.

If you are travelling by public transport, the nearest train stations are Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham.

Parking at Batsford Arboretum

There is a free car park within walking distance of the garden centre.

Have you been to Batsford Arboretum?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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