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13 Amazing Things to Do in the Forest of Dean

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Situated in the western part of Gloucestershire, the Forest of Dean has been the backdrop for many TV shows such as Killing Eve and Merlin. It was even featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (And who doesn’t love Harry Potter, right?) Aside from its famous filming locations, the forest is home to some amazing beauty spots that you won’t be able to get enough of. From beautiful viewpoints and woodland walks to cool museums and outdoor pools, here are 13 amazing things to do in the Forest of Dean!

This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Kim Holder.

1. Puzzlewood

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Address: Perrygrove Rd, Coleford, Gloucestershire GL16 8QB

Phone number: 01594 833187

Price: £7 per adult, £6 for children aged 3-16, free for children aged 2 and under

Think about a magical forest from a fairytale, and throw in some beautiful wildlife and an amazing atmosphere, and that is exactly what Puzzlewood is.

This magical woodland is located in Coleford and is home to some amazing wildlife, including deers, foxes, rabbits, and more.

And that’s not to mention the strange rock formations, secret caves and ancient trees that are just begging to be discovered.

Oak, beech, ash, lime and yew are all the different variations of trees that make up this historical woodland. They make for a great view and for even better Instagram shots!

During different seasons throughout the year the wood changes. All offer something different but my personal favourites are the bluebells that appear during the late springtime and the fungi that appear in the autumn.

Feathery moss is present throughout the year, giving a fresh feeling to the woodland.

You’ll also get the chance to meet some animals on-site, such as Shetland ponies, Highland cattle and Soay sheep. Bird watching is another great shout at Puzzlewood. Look out for robins, swallows, and magpies!

After all that excitement,  enjoy some lovely refreshments at the Puzzlewood Cafe – the perfect way to end this magical adventure.

2. Go Ape

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Address: Go Ape, Mallards Pike, Lake Parkend, Lydney, Gloucestershire GL15 4HD

Phone number: 01603 895500

Price: £33 for adults 16+, £25 for children aged 10-15

Ever wanted to climb around the treetops like a monkey? Well, Go Ape is the perfect attraction to do just that.

There are two locations in the Forest of Dean, one in Beechenhurst and the other in Mallard’s Pike, which are just a ten-minute drive from each other.

At Beechenhurst, you can explore the treetops by ziplining and climbing crossings and bridges.

And if you want to make your experience even more special, you can take to the trees at night with the Sundown Trees experience. This is a really fun concept that you won’t find in many places!

And at Mallard’s Pike, you and your family or friends can explore the treetops while taking part in the Treetop Challenge. This is a great activity to add to your adrenaline junkie bucket list!

Segway hire is also available at this location. If you want to stay closer to the ground, why not take an off-road trail to explore the magnificent forest and all it has to offer? It’s basically the most fun that you could have on two wheels. 

3. Beechenhurst

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Address: Speech House Rd, Coleford, Gloucestershire GL16 7EJ

Phone number: Speech House Rd, Coleford GL16 7EJ

Price: Free (Parking charges apply)

Beechenhurst is a great family-friendly attraction to visit within the forest. There are many activities to do here including five different walking trails. T

he popular Sculpture Trail is one of the best things to do in the Forest of Dean for all ages. The Gruffalo Trail, on the other hand, is excellent for kids, as it gives them the chance to discover sculptures of the Gruffalo and his friends.

If walking isn’t for you, why not hire a bike instead? The cycling trail provides a unique and faster way to get around the forest.

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Or if you fancy yourself as the next Robin Hood, you could have a go at archery.

At the main Beechenhurst site, there is a play area for the kids. Let them run wild while you enjoy refreshments from the cafe, soaking in the sun.

If it happens to be a lovely summers day on the day of your visit, you can even hire a BBQ for your time there. A great way to make your picnic special, you can bring all of your BBQ favourites along. (And who doesn’t love a burger in the sun?)

It’s safe to say that this spot absolutely thrives in the summer months.

4. Symonds Yat

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Address: Symonds Yat Rock, near Coleford, Gloucestershire, GL16 7NZ

Phone number: 0300 067 4800

Price: Free (Parking charges apply)

Want to soak up the best view of the Wye Valley? Then a visit to Symonds Yat Rock should be on the top of your list of things to do in the Forest of Dean.

With an absolutely breathtaking view of the River Wye bending through the forest, it is, in my opinion, the best view of the Wye Valley that you will find.

Walking back from the viewpoint, there are some picnic benches, perfect for those summer days where you fancy breaking up your exploring with a delicious picnic.

The rest of Symonds Yat is actually in the Wye Valley rather than the Forest of Dean, However, as the rest of Symonds Yat is only a short walk or car journey from the Rock, it’d be rude to not mention it!

You’ll find something for everyone, from King Arthurs Cave and mini-golf to a butterfly zoo and a hedge puzzle. You can even get your adrenaline pumping by taking part in summit mountaineering.

This is sure to make you feel on edge (quite literally!). 

If you’re a fan of Netflix’s Sex Education, you’ll recognise Symonds Yat as one of the main filming locations for the show. Head down to Symonds Yat West to see if you can spot Dr Jean and Otis Milburn’s iconic chalet tucked up in the trees!

Regardless of whether you’ve seen the show or not, the house definitely makes for the perfect Instagram shot.

5. Clearwell Caves

family-inside-clearwell-caves-tourist-attraction

Address: The Rocks, Clearwell, Coleford, Gloucestershire GL16 8JR

Phone number: 01594 832535

Price: £8 per adult, £6.50 for children aged 4-16, £7 for concessions (student, OAP)

Let your adventurous side come out at Clearwell Caves, a magical underground adventure for all ages. Quite like Puzzlewood, you might recognise these caves from the likes of Doctor Who, Merlin and even The Chronicles of Narnia.

Inside the nine show caverns, there are so many fun activities, such as the workshop that is held on the mining history of the caves. Bats such as the Horseshoe live in these caves in the bat churn.

However, it’s unlikely you’ll spot them during your trip as they only come out on warm nights.

It has also been discovered that boys from as young as the age of seven were working in the caves during their mining period. Known as “Billy Boys”, they were required to carry 60-70 lbs.

If you’re feeling strong (or just cocky!) during your trip you can test what that amount of weight feels like.

Used as a location for events, weddings and even an underground theatre, the Pit Theatre Chamber is another great spot to explore. It’s safe to say I’d love to experience an event there! There’s also a skeleton pool with ancient creatures on the walls from 350 million years ago.

At the end of your day, take a trip to the Lamproom Cafe to grab some well-needed refreshments after a long day of jam-packed fun.

6. Dean Forest Railway

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Address: Forest Road, Lydney, Gloucestershire GL15 4ET

Phone number: 01594 845840

Price: £14 per adult for a steam train ride, £6 for children aged 3-17

Thought steam trains were a thing of the past? Well, not at Dean Forest Railway! One of my favourite places to visit in the Forest of Dean, take yourself back in time and experience the feeling of travelling via a steam train.

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A unique experience for the whole family to enjoy, you can get up to all sorts here. But of course, the highlight is taking a trip on the steam train.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of an inspector then the murder mystery train ride will be right up your street.

Or if you’re a fish and chips lover, there is also a chance to experience a fish and chip supper on your train journey. Can it get any more British than this?

And you can do all this while soaking up some unique views of the Forest of Dean.

7. Littledean Jail Museum

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Address: Church St, Littledean, Nr. Cinderford, Gloucestershire GL14 3NL

Phone number: 01594 826659

Price: £10 per adult, £9 for children aged 3-18, £9 for senior citizens

With exhibits from all different points in history, the Littledean Jail Museum is more than just your typical jail museum.

Inside, you’ll find an exhibit on the horrors of the Holocaust, which was set up to honour all affected by that tragic time.

The museum also has an exhibit on instruments of punishments and torture from over the years. It’s safe to say that this is one of the darkest museums you’ll ever come across! Just try not to think about how these instruments were used.

Speaking of dark, Fred and Rose West are household names in the UK, but especially so around Gloucestershire. Therefore, it’s only right that there is an exhibit on these two.

You’ll also find exhibits on topics covering everything from the grim reaper to Lady Diana! While not to everyone’s taste, this museum is sure to leave you wanting more.

8. Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail

cathedral-stained-glass-window-hanging-in-forest-of-dean-sculpture-trail-things-to-do-in-the-forest-of-dean

Address: Speech House Rd, Coleford, Gloucestershire GL16 7EL

Phone number: 0300 067 4800

Price: Free (Parking charges apply)

Fancy an adventure with the whole family? Then the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail is one of the best things to do in the Forest of Dean for you.

The trail has been around since 1986 and is home to seventeen sculptures in total. However, twelve of these sculptures are either no longer visible or have been decommissioned due to safety reasons.

The ‘Cathedral’ hanging stained glass window sculpture is the most popular and makes a great spot for photos, especially when the sun shines through it.

The Sculpture Trail attracts over 300,000 people every year and is a very popular attraction within the forest.

It’s a great day out for families, couples and everything in between. All the artists’ work is specific to the Forest of Dean so locals will especially love this activity!

9. Cannop Ponds

boardwalk-to-cannop-ponds-on-sunny-day

Address: West Dean, Lydney, Gloucestershire GL15 4JS

Phone number: 0300 067 4800

Price: Free (Parking charges apply)

Originally home to the Severn and Wye Railway, Cannop Ponds are a picturesque little spot that you’re bound to love.

There are many facilities at the ponds and if you happen to visit at the weekend, there’s a catering unit to provide refreshments. However, this is weather permitting.

Make sure to bring a picnic along anyway as there’s a great picnic area, ideal for dining al fresco on a sunny day!

If you’d rather get a little more active, then there are some great walking trails around the area, for both you and your furry friend.

If you’re keen on cycling then there are also some great cycling trails around the ponds.

Or if you like your activities at a slower pace, then there’s a chance to do some fishing.

10. The International Centre For Birds of Prey

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Address: Boulsdon House, Newent GL18 1JJ

Phone number: 01531 820286

Price: £9 per adult

Fancy getting up close and personal with 200 birds of prey? Then the International Centre For Birds of Prey in Newent is one of the best things to do in the Forest of Dean for you.

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A wide array of birds of prey are conserved here, such as owls, eagles and hawks, making this a popular attraction for bird lovers.

The charity works towards the conservation of birds of prey through education, capture breeding, research and rehabilitation.

There are some unique experiences available here at an extra cost, such as owl evenings and birds of prey encounter.

Although they’ll set you back a little more, these experiences are truly unforgettable and well worth every penny!

At the centre, you’ve got twelve acres of enclosures, beautiful gardens, field and woods to discover. So regardless of whether birds are your thing or not, this is a great day out for all the family.

11. Lydney Harbour

boats-docked-at-lydney-harbour-on-sunny-day-things-to-do-in-the-forest-of-dean

Address: Lydney Docks, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 4EJ

Price: Free

Located on the Chepstow to Gloucester Road, Lydney Harbour is a historical dream.

It’s a great place to enjoy a lovely riverside walk on a long hot summer evening or even in the crisp cold winter air.

As you’re walking, look out for the sculptures scattered around the harbour. Known as the Stones, they were sculpted by local artist David Yeates to form a compass.

If you’re an avid birdwatcher, then this is the ideal place to spot some lovely birds such as the rare Dusky Warbler.

Lydney Harbour holds a lot of history and makes the Severn Estuary the gateway from the southwest to the rest of the world. It also has the second-highest tidal range in the world, making it known worldwide.

Completely free, this is also one of the best things to do in the Forest of Dean for those on a tight budget.

12. Bathurst Pool

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Address: High St, Lydney GL15 5DY

Phone number:

Price: £3 per adult, £2 for children

Ever felt the urge to bathe in the sun next to the outdoor pool without having to leave the country? Then Bathurst Pool is the perfect place to visit on those hot summer days.

This open-air pool opened back in 1920 and has seen a few closures over the years. However, it has seen a rise in popularity in the last few years and there are plenty of reasons why.

The facilities at the pool have been renovated in recent years, seeing the introduction of new picnic tables made out of recycled milk bottles. Talk about eco-friendly!

The colourful decor is enough to make anyone smile, though it might be the relief the pool provides from the hot summer sun (during our one week of summer!) that really has everyone smiling.

13. Wenchford Picnic Site

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Address: New Rd, Blakeney GL15 4AW

Price: Free (Parking charges apply)

Last but by no means least, Wenchford Picnic Site is a great place for family fun right in the heart of the forest.

With two dog-friendly walking trails to choose from, this is one of the best places to visit in the Forest of Dean to explore some of the forest’s best nature spots.

And if you fancy some refreshments after a long day walking, then there’s even a cafe at the picnic site for you to enjoy.

For those intermittent hot summer days, there is a paddling area for kids to splash around in. And hey, the dog may even get a nice cool down too!

There are picnic benches dotted around the area and open spaces perfect for the placement of a picnic blanket.

Barbeques are also welcome here, so get those burgers and buns ready for a relaxing day.

 

As you can see, there are so many amazing things to do in the Forest of Dean. So many, in fact, that many may not even know where to start!

Which of these places to visit in the Forest of Dean has most caught your eye? Please let me know in the comments below, and make sure you visit some of these places on your next visit to this magical forest.

13 Amazing Things to Do in the Forest of Dean. From beautiful viewpoints and woodland walks to cool museums and outdoor pools, there are so many great places to visit and things to do in the Forest of Dean! Click through to read more...

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