I had to look up the meaning of arboretum. For those who are ignorant like me, an arboretum is a botanical collection composed exclusively of trees. More commonly a modern arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants. So when we woke up one dry Sunday morning, we decided to investigate this further and make use of our National Trust membership and head to Winkworth Arboretum in Godalming, Surrey.
The History of Winkworth Arboretum
With so many stunning sites across the country, you’d be surprised to discover that Winkworth is the National Trust’s only arboretum. And it’s all down to one man’s vision who wanted to use the trees as a canvas for planting trees to ‘paint a picture.’
Dr Wilfrid Fox bought the wooded valley and lakes in 1937 and experimented with different tree species at Winkworth Arboretum, which is why is home to a number of rare and unusual trees.
Things To See and Do at Winkworth Arboretum
If you’re keen walkers – Winkworth Arboretum has three suggested routes – the most challenging is nearly 4km and covers the whole landscape.
Because we had Peanut with us, who is at that ‘I want to walk everywhere stage’, we stuck to the main route, and even though it was dry – the weather was intensely chilly so we didn’t want to head too far out. After strolling past the Winter Garden – where we found scented Witch Hazel., our main focus was to get to Rowe’s Flashe Lake. It was here we took a seat on the deck of the timber boathouse and admired the stunning views across the water, as well as the duck and geese.
From this point, we meandered slowly up the Azalea Steps (which in spring will produce a spectacle of colour against a backdrop of maples) and cutting across past we then came across the Owl Bench, which both the children loved! We couldn’t get them off it. We only managed to prise them away with the promise of the going to Winkworth Arboretum’s play area – which of course, was the highlight of their trip, particularly the wobbly bridge and natural climbing frame.
For me, I was stunned to see the hundreds of daffodils blooming. It was such a spectacular display which really brought some sunshine into the bleak midwinter’s day.
We didn’t even get the chance to see these other features at Winkworth Arboretum:
• The Holly Wood – you can find 40 different varieties of holly here
• The Magnolia Wood– which boasts some of the finest specimens
• Sorbus Hill– affords magnificent views across the surrounding countryside
• The Bowl– where there is an intense concentration of autumn colour planting
Winkworth Arboretum Through The Seasons
We as a family love exploring our local National Trust Surrey sites, particularly for the first time, as there is an added sense of adventure. Plus, depending on the time of year, there’s always the opportunity to return and discover a different feel throughout the seasons. So we are really looking forward to going back to Winkworth Arboretum in the spring and summer where there will be an abundance of colour from the carpets of Bluebells, cherry blossom, magnolias and azaleas. During autumn is where the arboretum really comes into its own – as the trees are the stars of the show – from oaks, rowans and maples.
Even though we didn’t get to really see Winkworth Arboretum in its entirety I view this maiden visit as a scouting mission – we went, we liked and we’ll definitely be going back. For us, it was about blowing away the cobwebs and getting some fresh air. And we got all of that and more…
Things To Know Before Visiting
• There is a Tea Room – which serves hot food, beverages and packed lunches. The seating inside is tiny, however, there is plenty of tables outside. Meanwhile, be prepared to queue at busy periods.
• There is access for all at Winkworth Arboretum, but some areas are more accessible than others. There are also lots of steep steps and slopes so do take care especially with young kids.
• There are guided walks and events on regularly, check the website for updates.
• Dogs are welcomed on short leads.
• Entrance fee for non-National Trust members is Adults: £9.05 and Kids: £4.50