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It was so good, we went twice

catch a falling leaf

One of my aims this Autumn is to increase the children’s knowledge of trees.  I’d love them to look at a tree and be able to name it. Where better to start than at Westonbirt Arboretum. Especially in leaf peeping season.


As a family, we all enjoy walking and exploring in woods, but I admit that I had a moment of doubt whether the children would enjoy going to the Arboretum.

investigating the tree

I need not have worried. They loved it.

carpet of acer leaves

They kicked leaves. Caught falling leaves. “Oohed” over the fantastic colours.

tree hugging

They hugged trees. Collected leaves and ran through curtains of branches. Spotted fungi.

looking up the tree

They stood at the bottom of huge trees, that towered above them, and looked straight up.

photographing a ginkgo tree

There was also a little bit lot of photography and noting of tree names in notebooks.

weeping acer

There are two woods in the Aboretum. We were able to take the hound with us around the Silk Wood, but not the other. She loved her walk almost as much as the children. Living in the country, we don’t bump into many other dogs on our daily walks. On this walk, there were plenty of dogs for her to rub noses with.

acer tree

Everyone loved walking round the Silk Wood. In fact, they all enjoyed it so much that the children persuaded me to take them back during the week. This time we left the hound behind so that we could go into the Old Arboretum.

checking out a fairy houseThey weren’t disappointed. Yet again, the big outside made a darn, good classroom. There is so much to see and so much more to learn.  And it was fun.

acer stained glass canopy

The question now is whether they can name more than oak trees. I think so, but I think a few more visits will help. They came home with a fascinating collection of leaves and seeds. Able to tell me which tree most of them came from. The leaves are now creating a colourful carpet on our nature table.

sweet chestnut

Most importantly, they can tell conkers from sweet chestnuts. A good life skill, if you ask me.

 It’s Friday, so I’m joining in with #CountryKids. If you are looking for more outside inspiration then I recommend you hop on over.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



32 Responses to It was so good, we went twice

  • Cara says:

    Wow beautiful photos and magical gorge pics of the trees. My ill boy is so interested in nature and the huge trees in our local parks. We rent books from the library on these topics and he adores them. Lovely post #countrykids

    • Cheryl says:

      I hope he continues to find nature fascinating. Good idea to feed his appetite with books from the library. I love seeing my children researching books on their own. Especially when they share their new found knowledge with me!

  • Charlotte says:

    Beautiful photos! Looks like everyone had a lovely time. I love those reds – amazing! x

  • Coombemill says:

    Some lovely photos as always, the leaves are finally reaching those rich red and yellow colours and look stunning. You are so right about learning outdoors, before this years chestnut hunt I don’t think mine knew the difference between sweet chestnuts and conkers. I love the big tree hug too, your children really do seam to enjoy the simple outdoor pleasures. Thank you for linking up on Country Kids.

    • Cheryl says:

      They really do enjoy being outside. Far more harmonious as well. Really wish that the school run wasn’t starting up again on Monday and back to school niggles. Ah well, just make the most of the weekend.

  • What a lovely way to learn – and they look like they are having such a wonderful time. Great photos – the colours of the leaves are fabulous.

    • Cheryl says:

      It certainly inspired them. Eldest has been pouring over our tree books ever since. Lots of nature art too. Definitely a good way to learn.

  • TheBoyandMe says:

    We’ve been to Westonbirt twice, once it was -3 and the other time it was about 30. We really should try it in Spring or Autumn as I don’t think we’ve seen it at its best, or rather in the best mood. Sweet chestnuts are very different to normal conkers aren’t they, and the tree looks so different too. Great photos of the hugging!

    • Cheryl says:

      You are missing a treat! Hope you make it on a more welcoming day. The sweet chestnuts seem plumper this year. The children mixed up the conkers and sweet chestnuts in one bag. A couple of the sweet chestnuts caught me out until I spotted their tails.

  • 76sunflowers says:

    Westonbirt is such a lovely space that we don’t go to enough. We explored it last summer and I loved the old bit . I’m with you in the trees – but I could do with brushing up on my knowledge first! Lovely pics and the hound is huge!

    • Cheryl says:

      It is a great place to visit, isn’t it? My knowledge is a bit rusty too, so I had lots of “I remember that” moments. If nothing else, walking through the trees is very refreshing.

      She is a fairly tall hound. Difficult to sneak her into anywhere unnoticed.

  • LearnerMother says:

    The Arboretum looks awesome! We often pass it on the M4 and now I read this I am thinking that next time we are planning a trip we should include a stop off. And I absolutely love the picture of your girl hiding in the tree!

    • Cheryl says:

      I can definitely recommend stopping off next time you have the chance. It would make a great place to stretch your legs. Just allow yourself a few hours. The children loved it. I don’t think they managed to pass any of the smaller weeping trees without hiding in them. A lovely, unstuffy place for children to learn in a natural way.

  • Julie says:

    Westonbirt is wonderful isn’t it? I have been, in a work capacity, a couple of times – and absolutely loved it. We don’t have anything like it near us. Edinburgh Botanic Garden is great but much smaller and more manicured. Juliex

    • Cheryl says:

      Rather envious that your work takes you somewhere as wonderful as Westonbirt. Manicured has its place, but it’s always a relief to take the children somewhere that doesn’t have signs everywhere telling them what not to do. Just relax and absorb it all. Perfect.

  • Nickie says:

    Looks like a wonderful trip out! I have also been meaning to find a book on local trees and learn how to identify them.

    So how DO you tell the difference between conkers and sweet chestnuts? Presumably one is edible and the other is not, but trial and error doesn’t sound like a very appealing approach.

    • Cheryl says:

      Conker cases, from horse chestnuts are smooth with well spaced-out short prongs and the conkers are smooth all over. Sweet chestnut cases are covered with longer thinner spikes, making it difficult to pick up without being prickled. Like the ones in my last photo. The sweet chestnuts are smooth except for a small, pointy tail. Both raw conkers and sweet chestnuts contain toxins and should not be eaten. Cooking process must destroy the toxins in the sweet chestnuts to make them edible. From what I read, cooking conkers does not work, but then if it did, we’d be tripping over all the recipes.

  • Nichola Fabfortymum says:

    oh fantastic pictures Cheryl, I love the peeping out of the Acer picture, it’s brilliant and as for those sweet chestnuts – how I would love a sweet chestnut tree. We have two Horse Chestnuts which are fun for the conkers, but I would love to roast chestnuts from my own tree. It looks like a fabulous day out and something I know my girls would love. I can’t wait to be back on my feet properly to get out more to places like this.

    • Cheryl says:

      There are only so many conker competitions you can enter. I’d plump for a sweet chestnut tree too. Hope you are feeling better now.

  • Pinkoddy says:

    What very inspirational children. My knowledge is shocking and I think that’s what holds me back really – silly with the use of the internet really, and I should make more of an effort. Glad to hear that they had so much fun too.

    • Cheryl says:

      I’m rusty, but it’s been fun relearning. You’re right. There are so many great resources to fill the gap in our knowledge. Eldest has been pouring over a fairly basic tree book and has been coming out with some really interesting facts. Definitely worth a go.

  • sarah says:

    i love the reds in your photos. so gorgeous

  • se7en says:

    Hay your blog has a whole new look – fabulous, I wish I knew how to do that!!! And your walk looks fabulous, You know we would love a walk through your countryside – and that amazing dog of yours, always catches me by surprise… a beauty indeed!!! Lots of love from the far side of the world!!!

    • Cheryl says:

      Thanks for noticing the change, se7en! Haven’t changed the look for over a year. Long over due. Still need to tidy up a few areas. Totally spoilt for wonderful places to walk and discover. Hope you make it over here again one day. Love to you all.

  • Kriss MacDonald says:

    Your post hit a chord with me as I’ve been thinking lately that it would be wonderful for me and the kids to start learning and recognising trees together. Last year I used to jog (yikes I need to get those running shoes back on..) on a trail near my sister’s house in Pennsylvania which had signs on all the trees telling you what they were. So I’d love to visit Westonbirt especially after seeing your gorgeous photos.

    • Cheryl says:

      Total blessing when there is a sign on the tree telling you it’s type. My photos do not even come close to how beautiful it is at Westonbirt. The trails are wide and lined with trees and hidey holes for the children to explore. It is a beautiful place to visit and it recharged my batteries, for sure! I remember loving nature trails where we spent time learning the names of the trees. Both with my parents and school. I hope I am passing on the knowledge to my children.

  • jo says:

    Oh it looks lovely there! REally colourful gorgeous photos too – it really is a great time of year for getting outside isn’t it?

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