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10 reasons why you should visit Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire is home to the UK's longest river, largest mature oak woodland, and most inland port. It's where you can visit iconic film locations, walk in the footsteps of poets, and explore 4,500-year-old mines.

However, Gloucestershire has an identity crisis. In addition to its county town of Gloucester, it has three lovely areas - The Forest of Dean, The Cotswolds and the Severn Vale, which somehow don't come together in our minds as a single county. 

We've brought together these disparate parts of the county in our top 10 reasons to visit Gloucestershire this spring. Stay at Forest of Dean on the western edge of the county.

1. The Forest of Dean

- 20 million trees

The Forest of Dean is a place of myths and legends, rivers and waterfalls, outdoor pursuits and natural beauty. It contains 20 million trees, bordered by the Rivers Severn and Wye. Thanks to Nelson, who ordered the planting of 30 million acorns to grow timber for shipbuilding, you can see the largest oak woodland in the country - shipbuilding moved to steel and iron before the trees matured!

Gloucester is home to a magnificent cathedral

2. The River Severn

- With one of the wonders of the natural world

The longest river in the UK at 220 miles, the River Severn cuts Gloucestershire in half along the Severn Vale, adding to the sense of disconnect within the county. It boasts the 2nd largest tidal bore in the world which is at its most dramatic following the new and full moons and the spring and autumn equinoxes. Late March is the time to catch it.

3. Gloucester Cathedral

- Scenes from Harry Potter

With a story dating back to the 7th Century, Gloucester Cathedral is part of our country's rich history. The resting place of Edward ll, who was murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle, it became a Cathedral under the reign of Henry Vlll in 1541. It's also a cathedral that the kids will be happy to visit, as they can follow in Harry Potter's footsteps through the monastic cloisters which feature in the films as Hogwarts.

4. Gloucester Docks

- The UK's most inland port

Gloucester Docks is Britain's most inland port but now the goods ships of old have been replaced by narrow boats and pleasure cruisers and the Victorian warehouses are home to museums, restaurants and shops. Visit on 27 - 29 May, when the Tall Ships festival will bring the history of the docks alive.

The Cotswolds is one of the prettiest areas in England

5. The Cotswolds

- The essence of England

At the opposite edge of Gloucestershire to our cabins, The Cotswolds is one of the prettiest areas in England. Honey coloured thatched cottages, village greens and rolling countryside abound. Gloucestershire is one of five counties that are home to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it boasts Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water and Cheltenham, the most complete regency town in Britain.

6. Puzzlewood

- A mystical woodland

Back in The Forest of Dean and Puzzlewood is a must-visit attraction. This magical, moss-covered woodland is reputed to be J.R.R. Tolkien's inspiration for the forests of Middle Earth and it's easy to believe. It's a great family day out, with plenty of exciting activities for children.

7. Clearwell Caves

- 4,500 years of human endeavour

Open now for the summer, beneath the Forest of Dean lies Clearwell Caves, a warren of passageways connecting huge natural caverns. The hidden world tells the story, not only of thousands of years of mining but of millions of years of history. This fascinating world is a key part of the history and heritage of The Forest of Dean.

The spectacular view from Symonds Yat Rock

8. Dymock

- Daffodils and poets

You know spring is in the air when a host of golden daffodils appear in the Gloucestershire countryside. Take the circular walk from Dymock through wild daffodil country, past orchards and woodlands, meadows and streams. Neighbouring Kempley have a Daffodil Weekend, 18 - 19 March with organised walks. This is also the land of the Dymock Poets, who include Robert Frost and Rupert Brooke. Follow in their footstep on the Poets' Paths.

9. Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley

- Peregrines and a pull ferry

Stay at our Forest of Dean location and enjoy a woodland walk to Symonds Yat Rock. This limestone outcrop overlooks the River Wye as it loops through the valley below. From April onward, watch the pair of nesting peregrine falcons on the cliff-side before heading down into Symonds Yat East for refreshments. Then catch the ancient pull ferry over the river into Herefordshire for a riverside walk.

10. Slimbridge Wetland Centre

- Wildlife and family fun

As its 30,000 wintering birds head back to their summer homes, the Wetland Centre prepares itself for sand martins, chiffchaffs and barn swallows in March, followed by the summer warblers and cuckoos, yellow wagtails and black-headed gulls in April. A group of giant yellow plastic ducks fly in on 8 April to 23 April for Dusty's Giant Duck Hunt!

Discover for yourself the many delights of Gloucestershire this spring...