We’ve been to Jodrell Bank Visitors Centre several times but never to the arboretum. If you don’t know about it you could park the car and rush off to admire the staggeringly immense dish, without ever realising that the site also has 35 acres of woodland with over 2000 species of trees. The word arboretum conjures up a vision of an area fairly heavily populated with interesting trees – Jodrell Bank offers this but within much larger grounds and having more green, open spaces than I imagined. The entrance is deceiving – you feel as if you are entering a small woodland, following a path which has several opportunities to explore alternative grassy paths. But suddenly (in the vicinity of Neptune!) you emerge from the trees into a wide open grassy area broken up and edged by trees. I’m no expert and would not like to start trying to identify any of the different species, but the overall impression is of a wide variety of trees, carefully planted to lead the eye and provide contrasting textures, colours and heights. Ornamental crab apple trees are a speciality of the Arboretum, as are cherry trees and there were some wonderful displays of blossom. Another sign of spring was provided by the seven ducklings darting about after their mother on the pond (with me chasing after them on the bank).

I was taken aback several times as I turned to look at the view behind me, back towards the entrance and the Lovell Radio Telescope (the dish!) dwarfed even the tallest of poplars. In the photograph at the top you can get a sense of scale from the wooden bench in the middle towards the bottom.

A visit just to Jodrell Bank Visitors Centre and the awesome telescope is a fascinating day out, but the Arboretum really finishes the day off. It’s an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise as you walk through woodland, across grassy meadows, always surrounded by the colours, sounds and fragrances of nature. Children will love the Environmental Discovery Centre at the start of the trail, which tells them about the trees and wildlife they can expect to find. They can also become mini space explorers as they discover the planets in our solar system which are laid out in their correct positions along the Planet Path that starts by the telescope. If that isn’t enough to wear them out, they can swing like monkeys on the play area whilst the grownups take a break at the picnic tables (in warm sunshine like we did yesterday – hard to believe when I had to get hat and gloves on to walk the dog today!).

My one small gripe is that dogs weren’t allowed in the Arboretum. I completely support no dog policies in gardens where there are carefully tended flower beds and perfectly manicured lawns, but Daisy would have loved the woodland paths and the open spaces. We are responsible dog owners and would have kept her on a lead and picked up after her. I have to wonder what harm it could do to allow four legged friends to enjoy the Arboretum as well. We had to tie her up outside the car (it was slightly too warm at times to leave her inside) and then worry about her when she barked occasionally. However, that said, we all really enjoyed our visit and I look forward to returning again, perhaps in the Autumn (minus dog).

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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