Batsford Arboretum and Cotswold Falconry Centre, Gloucs

I love the autumn tree colours. Last October we visited Westonbirt Arboretum but had a disappointing day out as it was incredibly busy. This year we went to Batsford Arboretum instead. It’s much smaller but still has some impressive autumn displays.

Batsford Arboretum is located near Moreton-in-Marsh, a picture perfect Cotswold town with honey coloured buildings. The town has a railway station with frequent connections from Oxford so we used our family railcard and arrived by train.

The Monarch’s Way

Our first port of call was the Tourist Office to get walking directions to the Arboretum. It’s a straightforward and flat route, which takes you along a short stretch of the Monarch’s Way, a 615 mile long distance trail.

Sheep walking the Monarch's Way?
Sheep walking the Monarch’s Way

The trail follows (approximately) the route that Charles II took on his escape from England. It took Charles 6 weeks to flee but fortunately we only had to walk for 30 minutes to reach our destination. The track is well signposted but the fields were pretty muddy from recent rain.

Cotswold Falconry Centre

Upon arrival the kids spotted signs for the Cotswold Falconry Centre, which is next to the Arboretum. I hadn’t planned to visit this as I thought it would be too much to squeeze into one day, but they were very persuasive. Fifteen minutes later we were seated and waiting for the flying display to start.

Bald eagle at Cotswold Falconry Centre
Bald eagle at Cotswold Falconry Centre

I’m not a great fan of falconry as I prefer to see birds flying free in the wild. However I was very impressed with the Falconry Centre. The birds were obviously well cared for and the falconer keen to stress they could fly off at any time if they wished.

Snowy owl at Cotswold Falconry Centre
Crystal, the snowy owl at Cotswold Falconry Centre

We watched a 1 hour flying display during which 4 different birds were flown. These included Scruffy, a hawk, bred especially for falconry. The falconer ensured that each bird flew for some time before rewarding them with a dead chick. The highlight of the display came from another bird, Lulu. She demonstrated amazing braking powers after descending from a great height.

Hawk at Cotswold Falconry Centre
Hawk at Cotswold Falconry Centre

After the display we looked briefly at some of the other birds. One of the Hooded Vultures had laid an egg on the morning of our visit, which will hopefully result in a chick in a couple of months. Visitors are welcome to attend additional flying displays (which use different birds) and you can also leave and re-enter throughout the day.

Batsford Arboretum

Our next stop was for lunch, which we ate in the Batsford Arboretum cafe. It was on the expensive side, but the food was freshly prepared and tasty. In addition to the indoor cafe there was also an outdoor BBQ burger and sausage stand, which the kids really enjoyed.

Autumn colours at Batsford Arboretum
Autumn colours at Batsford Arboretum

Most of the visitors to the Arboretum were older people, although there were a few families too. Despite it being half term there were no additional family activities, but we did pick up a children’s trail for 25p. This included a map of the Arboretum along with 10 questions to answer. The first question had the kids checking out this waterfall to see what was hidden behind.

Waterfall at Batsford Arboretum
Waterfall at Batsford Arboretum

The trail was good fun but we did find the map a little confusing as some of the statues were shown in the wrong places. For once, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my map reading at fault!

Pooh sticks at Batsford Arboretum
Pooh sticks at Batsford Arboretum

Despite its modest size the Arboretum still has plenty to see. As well as the trees there are a number of statues and other oddities with an Eastern theme. The kids were intrigued by the hermit’s cave and enjoyed posing next to the Buddha statue.

Batsford Arboretum
Batsford Arboretum

Batsford Park has an interesting history and was home to the Mitford sisters in World War I. The family led colourful lives which you can read about on the Arboretum website, along with the history of the Arboretum. The house is now privately owned and not open to visitors although it is visible from the grounds.

We spent around 2 hours at the Arboretum. I preferred it to the madness of Westonbirt last autumn although it is nowhere near as big, and the trees are generally individual specimens (there is no equivalent of the Acer glade). I’d definitely visit both attractions again, perhaps during spring when the Arboretum puts on a different display.

More info:

  • Batsford Arboretum is open every day except Christmas Day.  The Arboretum does have some hilly sections which may make it more harder for visitors who have difficulty walking, but the visitor centre is fully accessible.
  • If you’re visiting specifically to see the autumn colours check the Arboretum website before you set out as it has a handy leaf colour indicator on the home page.
  • Cotswold Falconry Centre is closed for winter between mid-November and early February, but then open daily for the rest of the year.

26 thoughts on “Batsford Arboretum and Cotswold Falconry Centre, Gloucs”

  1. My son loved following trails whenever we visited places. Frustrating if it’s not quite right though. Otherwise, it sounds a lovely spot. Colours look beautiful.

    1. I think I enjoyed the trail as much as the kids. Not sure what I’ll do when they’re grown up and I don’t have an excuse to get one!

    1. The Cotswolds are lovely, but as always, when you live close by you don’t always appreciate them as much as you should.

  2. That is not far from me at all and I’ve not heard of any of it. I think now the boys are getting older they would really love the falconry – thank you for sharing this information.

  3. It’s been a while since we’ve been – perhaps it’s time for another visit. Wondered if you’d pick up on the Mitfords – think I’ve read just about everything about them.

    1. Thanks Victoria. It was a bit more of an expensive day than we’d usually choose but it was our half term treat.

  4. It looked like a picturesque and interesting day out! I like the idea of the trail and spotting the answers to the questions, I’m sure this made it more interesting for the children. The autumnal colours are lovely and it looks like you had a nice bright day for your adventure. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  5. Batsford is on my list. Interesting to see your photos. It looks beautiful. We went to Westonbirt over half term and loved it. The children got a lot from our visits. #CountryKids

    1. Thanks Cheryl. We went to Westonbirt last half term but must have chosen the wrong day. I’m pretty sure there were more visitors than trees – it was heaving!

  6. That looks like a stunning place to visit but a bit pricey (1 adult and 3 kids).I do love the idea of visiting a falconry centre though.I’m over from Country Kids.

    1. Hi Aly, I agree, it is a little pricey. However I think it was worth it to see the colours. The rest of the year I’d be quite happy with our local wood!

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