Whilst most readers will be familiar with Wittenham Clumps how many of you have discovered Broad Arboretum? It sees a fraction of the visitors that flock to the nearby Clumps but has plenty of interest for nature lovers.
The arboretum is a 15 minute walk from the main Earth Trust Centre car park. From the car park, take the stairs up to the main building and then turn right. Follow the footpath which takes you out past the buildings, and through the area where the archaeological dig took place earlier this year (parallel to the Clumps). Continue to follow the path as it curves to the right back towards Didcot. When you reach a wooden signpost take the right hand track to the arboretum.
The arboretum was named after Ken Broad, the project manager at the Oxfordshire Woodland Group that helped design and plant it in 1998. Ken’s widow and daughter opened the arboretum to the public in 2008. It’s not on the same scale as Harcourt Arboretum but it’s free and always open. Dogs on leads are welcome but please take poo bags away with you.
What’s in the arboretum?
You’ll find specimens of every tree species that’s native to the British Isles, 49 in all! A map at the entrance shows you where to find all of the different species; there are also individual markers for each group of trees. Although I like to think I know most native trees I was surprised how many different varieties there were of some species. Take willow for example. Did you know there are grey, goat, crack, bay and cricket bat willows? I certainly didn’t!
Depending on the time of year you might also see fungi, berries, seeds and nuts. Autumn is a great time to visit as the leaves will be turning red, yellow and brown. Plan for autumn colours from mid-late September onwards and through October (although it does depend on local conditions).
The path follows a curving loop around the arboretum. At the far end is a path out towards Neptune Wood and Long Wittenham. If you want an extended walk why not park at the Neptune Woods car park, then walk to the arboretum and back? This Earth Trust map shows the route.
If you’re not walking to Neptune Wood you’ll need to follow the loop back around to the entrance, and then retrace your steps to the Earth Trust Centre. The return route provides a good view of the Clumps. They looked incredibly busy compared to the arboretum when we visited!
The arboretum and associated walk provide a great alternative to the Clumps. Have you visited? What did you think?