From gentle strolls in our corner of the Forest of Dean, to riverside walks in the Wye Valley. From pretty wildlife and sculpture trails to challenging cross-county hikes, the Forest of Dean area offers some great walking
Take the Peregrine Path along the River Wye for a look at the nesting peregrines, or cycle through the border countryside between England and Wales. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers cycling for all abilities, including some amazing MTB challenges.
Symonds Yat straddles the River Wye on the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire borders. The perfect spot for a summer day out, it’s half an hour’s walk through the woods from our Forest of Dean cabins. After watching the peregrines at Symonds Yat Rock, take a riverside walk and then enjoy a hearty meal at the Saracen’s Head Inn. A great way to understand something of the character of the Forest of Dean is to take a whistle stop tour of its four market towns, Cinderford, Cole ford, Lydney, and Newent, each with a different but related history. Further afield, the cathedral cities of Hereford and Gloucester have lots of attractions, including, at Gloucester, the most inland dock in the country, which has been redeveloped as a shopping and cultural area.
General Manager, Forest of Dean
Puzzlewood, 14 acres of ancient, moss-covered woodland, reputed to have been the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, is a magical forest that the children - and adults - will love. There is so much to see and do here, you will want to plan in a full day. Also, nearby, is the Butterfly Zoo and Hedge Maze, where you can enjoy lots of activities, including playing crazy golf among Roman ruins. Another family favourite is Clearwell Caves, where 4,500 years of history are hidden below ground.
Clearwell Caves offer an underground glimpse of the lives of Forest of Dean miners over thousands of years and the vast caverns are breath-taking. The Dean Heritage Centre continues the story above ground in a five-acre site, centred around a heritage mill and peaceful millpond. It tells of the lives of foresters through the ages in this unique area. Bringing the story up to date, the Taurus Craft Centre is home to local artists, sculptors and craftspeople, where you can watch them at work, have a go at some of the crafts and buy beautiful hand-crafted gifts.
Half an hour’s walk through the forest brings you to Symonds Yat Rock, a 500ft limestone outcrop, affording stunning views of the River Wye. From this vantage point you might be lucky enough to catch site of the peregrine falcons that nest on the cliff-side during the summer months. Back in the Forest, Beechenhurst Lodge is the hub of forest fun, where the children can play in the adventure playground and you can all enjoy lunch in the Gavellers café. Here you can also pick up the Sculpture Trail, which features forest-inspired work by local artists. If you are still full of energy take your tribe for some treetop adventures at Go Ape.
There’s plenty to do on a rainy day. Clearwell Caves, an underground labyrinth, tells the fascinating story of thousands of years of mining. Back above ground, explore the Forest of Dean by steam train on the Dean Forest Railway or take the kids to Perrygrove Railway, where they can explore the hidden passageways of the Indoor Village. Just 10 minutes’ walk away from your cabin at Forest of Dean is Hot Pot Pottery, where can you shut out the weather and book a go at pottery painting or pottery classes and add food to your experience too! If you prefer something stronger, how about a brewery tour at Hillside Brewery? If you like what you are tasting, use code FORESTHOLIDAYS10 to save 10% in their online shop.
Retreat Manager, Forest of Dean
Walk here during spring and you’ll notice plants bursting into life and bringing fresh colour to the forest. Your sense of smell is the next to be awakened as the pungent wild garlic bursts into flower. The aroma is unlikely to go unnoticed as, along with bluebells, the wild garlic covers large swathes of the forest floor. Both of these species are indicators that this forest has been around for a very long time.
The Forest of Dean is home to many animals, including wild boar, roe deer and dormice, but more recently, pine martens have made a welcome return. We are proud to have supported our partners at Forestry England and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust with their pine marten reintroduction project. Being nocturnal animals, they can be difficult to spot, but if you do see one, note their characteristic pale yellow ‘bib’, which is unique to each individual animal.