There’s much to see in Surrey and we’re truly spoilt especially at this time of the year. Somewhere I have to visit in autumn is Winkworth Arboretum. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a picturesque sight throughout the seasons but when those red, orange and yellow hues arrive – it’s quite spectacular. And the clever planting of their maples, oaks and rowans ensures the views are impressive and last for weeks. The arboretum has been looked after by the National Trust for some 60 years now.
Winkworth Arboretum is known as the unfinished masterpiece. Created in the early 20th Century by Dr Wilfrid Fox, it’s the vision of one man who wanted to use plants to paint a picture. There are a significant number of trees, shrubs and flowers – many of them rare, its unique setting making the arboretum a little bit special. There are woodland, wetlands and meadows to explore with the Rowe’s Flashe Lake and its historic boathouse the most tranquil of settings. Highlights include the Winter Garden near the entrance, the Holly and Magnolia Woods and Sorbus Hill. Not forgetting of course The Bowl which is the best place to see autumn colour with all its maples. Winkworth Arboretum, like many of the National Trust’s special places, is great for families. There are always trees to climb and ‘treasure’ to be found. But it’s also a wonderful spot for a wander, even if it’s the back end of the day and you only have a camera for company.
There are lots of different routes you can take at Winkworth Arboretum that vary from those suitable for all (with no steps) to the most challenging. My favourite often sees my pass this path with its rickety fence – I must check out where it goes one of these days. To the left of here are the Azalea Steps which lead down to the boathouse. You can take other routes but I like this one as there’s always plenty of colour. Azaleas in springtime and awash with colour at this time of year. So much so in fact, it was reminiscent of a red glow with so many beautiful red leaves under foot and overhead. Arriving late in the day meant it was tremendously quiet except for the sound of the birds – and a few geese by the lake. Nature at its very best I think you’ll agree. And there was me thinking I was too late for all the colour.
There was barely a soul around as I headed down the Azalea steps. The boathouse itself has been standing sentry at the Rowe’s Flashe Lake for over a hundred years. It’s a peaceful little spot with superb views of the lake and you may even seen moorhens on the hunt for food. If you’re visiting Winkworth Arboretum in the coming weeks, please do drop your change (or notes!) into the collection at the boathouse. It’s in need of repair and the National Trust needs to raise £45,000 for urgent structural damage due to the years of visitors. Winkworth wouldn’t be the same without the boathouse, it’s such a huge feature amid the arboretum landscape.
What I really enjoy is heading over to the other side of the lake where you can look back on the boathouse. It’s always a glorious sight and just look at those reflections! Afterwards I was going to head back up through the Badgers Bowl and take in the views from the lookout point. Instead I decided to do a little detour, taking part the Wetlands Walk, to see where the path led.
I didn’t venture too far afield as it was the end of the day but did come across some wonderful hues of orange and yellow. The bench below providing the perfect pit stop from which to take it all in before heading to the Badgers Bowl and Fiona Adams Steps. Truth be told I could have stayed for hours blowing away the cobwebs and taking in all the colour. Having said that, it won’t be long before the snowdrops make an appearance – changing the landscape at Winkworth Arboretum once more. Until next time.