An Unforgettable Day Out: Westbury Court Gardens in Autumn

View of statue at wesbury court garden

Westbury Court Gardens

By K. Yates

Autumn: A Time for Nature and Family

Autumn is one of my absolute favourite times of year. As a family, we love action-packed, fun-filled days out, but there is something about a simple day out in nature in autumn that I just love to clear the cobwebs. It makes us feel good. As a busy working mom of two, aged 5 and 9, family time together is important, and I am always looking for ways to get everyone outside and moving because, well, everyone is just happier that way! And what is better than a day out in good old fresh air… well, a free ticket, of course!


The Joy of a Free Ticket

One of the best ways to get outside and enjoy a lovely free wholesome family day out in autumn is the National Trust free ticket, which is available to claim in early September and enables families free entry to participating National Trust sites. We have been driving past the walled gates of Westbury Court Gardens for years on our way to another favourite outdoor location, the Forest of Dean, and have always looked through the gates and thought how beautiful it looks in there. So, I decided this would be the year we would make it.

Planning the Visit

I snapped up my free ticket following the link on the National Trust website with a few simple steps and looked on the calendar for a free weekend. The garden closes before the end of October, and I had been caught out the previous year by leaving my planning too late. Once I had designated a weekend, I spoke to some friends who are National Trust members about what to expect, as I like to have all the information before I go, to ensure everyone has fun! So, by the time we went a few weeks later on a sunny Saturday morning at the start of October, I felt fully prepared for a couple of hours of ‘free’ range fun!

The Day at Westbury Court Gardens

Our journey there was less than half an hour, which is always nice as quite often we find ourselves with a lot of driving to do before an adventure can properly start!

Arrival and First Impressions

Once we arrived, the first thing we noticed (after nabbing the last parking space!) was a MASSIVE conker tree right in the car park!! My girls were absolutely delighted by this, and a good fifteen minutes were well spent collecting conkers before we even made it into the attraction. In the car boot, we keep ‘nature bags’ as my girls love collecting all kinds of special things while on days out (think pinecones, twigs, leaves, etc.) that are all proudly displayed in the front garden once we get home. The incredibly nice staff member had also spent his time collecting a huge basket of conkers which he let the girls pick from to avoid them start clambering under cars and soon the bags were filled! Everyone was very happy just from this, so already the day was a success! He also gave us a brief history of the gardens whilst scanning our ticket and then gave the girls some bags of fish food to feed the fish in the lake.

Entrance at westbury court gardens

Exploring the Gardens

So, in we went with our bags of food and were pleasantly surprised with beautiful flowers and trees and more sections than we had been able to see from the road. My youngest even found a Holly bush with actual berries (that I had to persuade her not to pick!). We went for a lovely slow meander down the first canal and found the lake at the bottom (and some great hedges for a quick game of hide and seek). The fish could smell the food before we got there and to the girls’ amazement, they were splashing and bobbing and butting each other out of the way, desperate to get to the first sprinkle! The girls absolutely loved this, and we spent a great deal of time down at the lake, seeing how many fish we could attract, giving them names, and letting them follow us around the lake. After we had exhausted our fish food, we spent a while snapping some beautiful family pictures (memories!) before we continued our stroll past an old summer house building and a rabbit hutch and found a beautiful meadow over a little stream with some picnic tables in. After a game of ‘Pooh sticks’ on the little bridge, we stopped in the meadow for our picnic lunch. Like something out of a fairy tale, we somehow attracted a fearless little robin who perched right near our picnic table and kept swooping down for every little crumb (and there were lots) that the girls would drop. This was a source of great amusement for the duration of the picnic, and I am confident that by the end, more food was sprinkled and dropped ‘by mistake’ than was eaten!


Picnic lunch and robin bird

Concluding the Visit

After our rather lovely lunch, we proceeded to walk back up the other side of the gardens, admiring the flowers and the little one picking up as many sticks and pinecones as she could fit in her overflowing nature bag. At the top of the gardens is a beautiful old tree and some gorgeous scenery, then an old building with stairs up to a little lookout room. We had a quick wander up there to admire the view, and then we were finished, and it was time to head home.

Overall, we had spent a lovely couple of hours wandering around, playing silly games, collecting nature things, and enjoying being outside together. The weather was beautiful (not sure I would have gone in the rain!) and we had a fantastic time. It definitely exceeded my expectations as I knew it was a very small place to visit, and I wasn’t sure quite how long we would be able to spend there. I looked on the way out and ticket prices are usually just under £10 for an adult ticket with gift aid and a family of four like us would have been £23.40. I would not have paid that amount to visit, but for a few hours of fresh air with a free ticket, or even better as a National Trust member, it is definitely worth a visit! We had a great time and the girls loved it. The highlights were definitely the conkers and feeding the fish. I do think it was less geared for smaller children and there was a time when we were feeding the fish and they were squealing with delight that I felt we were perhaps ruining the peace of the gardens for other guests, but then, as quite often happens, an older couple stopped to watch the girls enjoying themselves and I decided that I was worrying over nothing.

View of statue at wesbury court garden

Final Thoughts and Tips

Overall, out of ten, we would rate it as an 8 for its simplicity, good value, and beauty. There is nothing like getting back to nature and some good old-fashioned fun outside and for us, it is an added bonus if it’s free! I feel like this takes the pressure off ‘making the most of it’ and allows you to just enjoy it at your own pace and when you’re done, you’re done. Facilities-wise, there was a toilet but it’s such a small place there was no cafe so a perfect opportunity for a picnic (the ticket kiosk sold a small amount of chocolate and crisps if you were desperate) and there is nothing in the way of children’s entertainment (like a park) but this just allowed us to make our own fun and games! The car park is exceptionally small (I knew this before we went) but it was free to park which is nice and I also knew there was plenty of free roadside parking if it had been full. This may even be a better option for you if you want to avoid a barrage of conkers raining down on your car! As days out go, this was a nice small little local adventure for us rather than a full-blown day out, but it is great to have variety and it was enjoyed by our family just as much. We have lots of lovely pictures and memories.

My top tips for anyone planning a visit would be:

  • Go nice and early for a parking space
  • Take a bag for conkers and other nature items
  • Pack a lovely picnic
  • Make sure to feed the fish, and you will have the best time!

fish at wesbury court garden

 

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