Review of "The Forest of Dean"

published 19/11/2006 | wellibelli
Member since : 26/10/2006
Reviews : 38
Members who trust : 65
About me :
Excellent
Pro idyllic, beautiful......plenty of woodland!!!
Cons quiet for those party people!!!
very helpful
Value for Money
Sightseeing
Shopping
Nightlife
Ease of getting around

"Magical forests"

canop ponds

canop ponds

The stunning forest of dean covers a vast area......as the name suggests it's plenty of ancient woodland with villages and towns dotted inbetween. In fact it covers over 100 square kilometers, and touches upon various counties such as herefordshie, gloucestershire and the borders of wales (the wye valley) Its about 25 mins west of Bristol. Yes so close, but it's like another world entirely.......now buckle up people because this is going to be a very lenghty review.....i'm in love with the place, and by the end of this review hopefully i'll have given you all enough reason and enticement to come dip a toe in my waters!!!

****ABOUT THE FOREST OF DEAN****

The forest of dean is one of the few remaining ancient woodlands remaining in the UK. It was designate as a national forest park in 1983, and is known as "the queens of forests all". Sounds a bit strange but it is oh so true!!! It is a truely magical forest spanning over 100s of acres. I am a lucky person to be able to live in a place packed to the brim with extrordinary wildlife, jaw-drooping views, and packed full of nature. It is an absoloute awe-inspiring place, a joy to live in with strong communities and great emphasis on "keeping it local", and plenty of attractions to pull in the visitors throughout the year, time and time again.

****THE HISTORY****

Well i had to do me a little bit of research here to refresh my memory. As i live in the forest it's common practice to learn about it's history and know all about it's heritage...but as it's a while since i've discussed it with anybody i thought i had better brush up on it!!! Some of you may not be really interested, but it is interesting none the less (if that makes sense!!) The saxons were the first to discover the forest (all that lovely hunting potential!!!) The hunting potential always remained in the forest for the kings throughout time. The forest has also been a significant industrial site, with it's coal mining and extractions of various other minerals since the roman times. Coal mining has always been one of the most important industries within the forest with no less than 5 colleries. The wood of the forest has played an important part in the heritage of britain since th 17th century.It was used during the civil war and used for the making of ships for the navy. Apart from the mining this was one thing we were all made aware of at school....in 1802 Lord Nelson visited the forest and highlighted that the finest timber in England was in a deplorable state.........hence 30 million acorns were planted over 11,000 acres. Thank you Lord Nelson!!! Obviously there was still a high demand for the timber so from then on there were carefull planting and felling programmes which have kept our glorious forest for us to enjoy today. Anyway there is a "brief" overview for you!!!

****THE VILLAGES AND TOWNS****

1 - The "Royal Ancient Forest"

Coleford - Situated in the middle of the Forest, coleford is a small market town, comprising of the few essential shops expected in a town, Bells hotel and golf course, plenty of takeaways, banks, and on the outskirts forest hills golf course.

Cinderford - again another main forest town, and again another market town. Cinderford is slightly bigger than coleford, therefore has more shops and services. No golf courses here though!!! Cinderford along with coleford lies in the heart of the forests beauty and are only a 10 minute drive between each.

2 - The Wye Valley

This is the western part of the forest, and seperates England from Wales. Now this part of the forest is an area of outstanding beauty, with plenty of views and plenty of activites on the river wye

Symonds yat - This is a town alongside the river wye, with fantastic river side pubs and resturants. It is also an activity hub of the forest, so for those who like the adventure side of things there is plenty of things to do i.e canoeing. This town provides one of the best views in the forest in the form of symonds yat rock

Tintern - Picteresque village on the banks of the wye, that has a gorgeous abbey (I used to feed smarties to the ghosts when i went there as a toddler!!! Aparently anyway!!

3 - The vale of Leadon

This area include the farmyards, vineyards and "quaint" little villages including villages such as Newent. These are on the outskirts of the forest but none the less hold their charm, being slightly different to the towns and villages in the centre of the forest. Picturesque, postcard villages you could say!!!

4 - The severn vale

This is one of the busiest parts of the forests, where the hustle and bustle can be found. Another river features here - the river severn, which runs along and though this part. This river itself is also a main tourist attraction during certain parts of the year, featuring a tidal bore (the severn bore) Plenty come to watch thic event, even to surf the bore!!!

Lydney - Again another thriving, constantly expanding market town. Lydney is one of the largest in the forest, and provides a wide range of tourist shops, one of the best known being tourists crafts. It also features the harbour, which has recently been restored to preserve it's historical importance as a key player in the industrial activities. Also there is Lydney Park Spring Gardens which features gardens and roman temple sites.

other small villages include - Alvington, Aylbuton, Woolaston, Bream, Yorkley... all of which are tuny really, usually just containing you typical, very friendly village shop and post office....oh and a pub if your lucky!!! The community spirit in these villages is amazing.....everyone knows each other, and all villagers take great care and have ALOT of pride in their villages.....after a local newspaper feature alot of cars now go around with "i love Lydney", or "i love Bream" stickers in the back window.....can't say i've got one though!!!

****AREAS OF PARTICULAR INTEREST****

Now this bit applies to both locals and tourists alike!!!

-Clearwell Caves
These are fantastic natural underground caverns - 9 of them in fact - used for iron ore, now open for the public to take a wander, on the outskirts of coleford. They are fasinating with walkways through the caves. They descend 100ft underground, dating over 4500 years. During christmas they are turned into santas grotta, and by god is that amazing. I used to beg to go there every year when i was little. They are all lit up wonderfully and it's quite something to walk around...very pretty. It's also got a cafe, gift shop, guided tours and adventure caving activites, as well as an on site blacksmiths workshop and orche workshop. Oh and a little claim to fame some of the second series of doctor who was filmed in the caves, as well as a little village called Ellwood!!! My claim to fame was that i nearly ran over Billie Piper whilst speeding through Ellwood!! Well i didn't expect a great big film crew round the corner did i!!! For more info on Clearwell caves please visit their website www.clearwellcaves.co.uk

- Puzzle Wood
Again this is in Coleford, and a very fun day out for all the family....as the name suggests it's a very enchanting 14 acre wood featuring mazes and a pre roman open iron ore mine. There are also farm animals of all kinds for the kids to pet and drool over!!!

- Beechenhurst Lodge
This is one of the very many popular sites in the forest. As the name suggests it's a lodge (cafe and art gallery) in the middle of the woods!! The main fetaure of Beechenhurst is the "sculpture trail" This is a series of trails featuring amazing sculptures from vaious artists at certain points. It fetaures the "giants chair" on top of a hill overlooking the forest. Again amazing views. This is a very popular walk with tourists and ramblers, but also provides alot of fub and interest for the kiddies too. For more info visit www.beechenhurstlodge.co.uk

There are over 96 attractions in the forest, far too many for me to list on here. But the ones above should give you some idea of the magic to expect from the forest. There really is something for everyone. For those who enjoy walking, the are numerous scenic trails and walks available for you to enjoy, from the easy stroll to a hike it's all here. For the family there is plenty to do for the kids, with sttractions such as the perrygove train station, with trains and treasure hunts through woods to animals and wildlife to see and learn about at places like the wilderness, and the dick whittington mohair countryside center in Longhope. For those who enjoy the wildlife and nature lovers the forest is an obvious place, with specialist centers such as the national birds of prey centre in Newent. For those who enjoy there arts and crafts there are places such as Tauras crafts in lydney, where you can even make your own pottery. It's even the perfect place to escape to for a weekend for a romantic weekend, with the views and scenery if the most cold hearted will be melted!!!! There are even a couple of castles lying around the place, with people far and wide coming to get wed at the renound clearwell castle (thats where i'm having my wedding!!!) Guests such as david beckham have even come along to attend weddings held there!!!

****PLACES TO STAY****

However you like to stay, whether it be camping, in caravan, staying in a hostel, self catering or in a top notch luxery hotel the forest can offer it to you.

-The Speech House hotel
This is one of the most popular hotels with tourists, but it isn't the cheapest. Set in glorious forests, it is a 17th century hunting lodge would you believe. Again this one is very popular for weddings with it's romantic atmosphere and settings, such as gorgeous four poster beds. For more info on the speech house, visit www.thespeechhouse.co.uk.
There are over 78 hotels and B&Bs to choose from, for all budgets and for all needs. Whether your just looking for a place to crash after a days walking, or whether you want to stay in places of historical importance, such as the speech house. If your after camping and caravaning there are over 11 campsites for you to choose from. For more detail visit the website at the bottom of the page.

****NIGHTLIFE****

To be fair the forest of dean isn't really somewhere you would go if you are looking for a hectic weekend clubbing. The forest is all about relaxation!! There a many many pubs in a variety of different places, all offering a freindly welcoming atmoshpher and good homemade food. For those people taking their dog on a ramble, pets are also welcome at many stop-offs along the way. Pub rides are even available, where you can stop of in a car park and have a swift one!!!! The evenings are quiet, but entertaining none the less, with local bands often playing at various pubs. If your looking to eat out there are over 40 different returants and cafes to choose from, all very induvual..some very traditional, some with a theme at an attraction.

****WOULD I RECOMMEND****

To right i would. The Forest of dean has something to offer everyone as mentioned above. It truely is a magical place, which is why so many come year after year to visit us. If you want any more info (because lets face it i can't tailor my reviews to everyones taste...please visit www.visitforestofdean.co.uk, and see if there is something here to interest year!!! Guarantee there is!!!

Thanks for your time you lovely people!!! xXx

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Comments on this review

  • Craigshadow12 published 26/07/2007
    Great review as allways :D, Craig ♥
  • drewish published 12/01/2007
    Excellent review. Wish mine were as good. : )
  • FUTURENOIR published 09/01/2007
    brilliant review keep it up hun.xx
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Product Information : The Forest of Dean

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Ciao

Listed on Ciao since: 25/05/2006