Signage to get to the Arboretum from the main road network may not be the best (we only saw brown signs within a few hundred metres of the site, but otherwise had to rely on satnav), but it’s well worth persevering to get there.
Parking is reasonably priced at just £4 for the day and – as might be expected – arranged with military precision. In the current Covid-19 climate, booking ahead is essential. Although we arrived 20 minutes early, the attendants knew exactly when we were due and where we would best park. Entry to the Arboretum is free, though a donation is welcomed. At the time of visiting, this was recommended as £5 per adult.
Although the attraction allows dogs to visit, it isn’t the most ‘dog-friendly’. There is a dedicated dog walk and pets are allowed to enter the main site. They are not, however, allowed into the ‘garden room’ exhibits – pets must remain on the path. Whilst this may not be a major issue, it does mean that pet owners need to be prepared for viewing of the exhibits to be perhaps more time-consuming (or compromised) than might otherwise be the case.
The site is big and to do justice when visiting, several hours are needed. We had 3 hours, which was nowhere near long enough. The aforementioned dogs issue – having to take turns to view exhibits – meant that much got missed. We will go back, but without our ‘boys’.
For people with mobility difficulties (or wheelchairs and push-chairs) pathways are wide, smooth and well-maintained. There is a land-train (charges apply) that runs around the site and which wheelchair/pushchair users can access too.
Catering provision was good at the time of our visit when visitor numbers were strictly controlled. There’s a restaurant and ‘takeaway’ cafe with outdoor seating. Pets are not permitted in the restaurant. Around the site there are benches for ‘comfort stops’, but no facilities for picnics – no waste bins, in particular.
There are volunteers around the site, who are keen to help and share their knowledge/ experiences. They were friendly and chatty, but not intrusive when quiet reflection was wanted.
The whole site – including buildings had an open and modern appearance. Toilet facilities were immaculate and cleanliness both indoors and out, was impeccable. Children are catered for with a dedicated play area, but parents/grandparents need to be mindful of the formality and respectful ambience of the setting – the venue is not a playground!