We’re all guilty of taking our hometown for granted. I do it all the time, planning holidays abroad instead of a staycation in the Forest of Dean. In reality, the Forest of Dean is a beautiful place to live with lots to see and do. If you’re planning a visit here, here’s nine things you must do.
1. Beechenhurst Lodge & Sculpture Trail
Not only is Beechenhurst Lodge the perfect place for a picnic, but it also features a play area, café, climbing tower Tree Top Junior – a junior version of Go Ape aimed at 6-12 year olds, making it a great place for families to visit. Beechenhurst is also the starting point for the infamous Sculpture
2. Taurus Crafts
With a strong emphasis on local artisan produce, Taurus Crafts hosts 15 artisan businesses, a café, gift shop, and local food shop and deli. On site, you’ll find a stonemason, chocolatier, leather worker, picture framer, knitter and quilter, among more. You can also paint your own pottery or play a round of crazy golf. It also regularly hosts exhibitions by local artists.
Puzzlewood is an ancient woodland site and tourist attraction near Coleford. It’s also a popular filming location: Dr Who, Merlin and Jack the Giant Slayer have filmed there, among more. It’s a beautiful part of forest featuring gulleys of mossy rocks, twisted tree roots, bridges and lookouts.
4. Clearwell Caves
Clearwell Caves are now a working mining museum where you can see the impressive and atmospheric caverns the iron miners made. There are displays throughout the Caves which tell the miners’ story from the Stone Age to the present day. The site regularly hosts activities and events, plus caving expeditions, so check what’s on before you visit.
5. Cannop Cycle Centre
Cyclists of all ages and level of experience can enjoy a great cycle trail starting at Cannop Ponds,featuring exhilarating descents and not too difficult climbs, as well as beautiful views along the way. You can bring your own bike or hire one from Pedalbikeaway.
6. Symonds Yat
Symonds Yat is a great place to spend a day in the Forest of Dean. The Symonds Yat Rock offers a beautiful viewpoint of the River Wye and surrounding area. There’s also opportunities to enjoy a spot of birdwatching, have a picnic and/or go rock climbing there. Symonds Yat also boasts an amusement park, easy walk trails and regular river cruises down the River Wye. One of Herefordshire’s most popular tourist attractions, the Amazing Hedge Puzzle, is located close to Symonds Yat, at Jubilee Park. There, visitors will find an intricate hedge maze, butterfly zoo and miniature golf course.
7. International Centre for Birds of Prey
The International Centre for Birds of Prey is the oldest dedicated birds of prey centre in the world. There are between 20 and 38 birds living there, all of which are flown every day. There are two paths to follow at the Centre. One goes straight down to the flying ground, where you can watch the flying demonstrations and wander around the ponds. While the other takes you to the aviaries.
8. Go Ape
Mallards Pike Lake is home to Go Ape’s original Tree Top Adventure and Forest Segway Trail. As well as being a great place to swing from tree to tree or zoom along the forest trails, Mallards Pike is a great spot for a picnic or gentle lakeside walk.
9. The surrounding market towns
The Forest of Dean is surrounded by beautiful market towns which are rich in history, art and culture, such as Chepstow and, my favourite, Stroud.
Have you visited the Forest of Dean? I’d love to hear what you thought of my hometown!