Local attractions

Forest of Dean

The Royal Forest of Dean, once called ‘The Queen of the Forests All’, is one of the most fascinating regions of Britain. Its relative isolation created by the valleys of two great tidal rivers, the Severn and the Wye, together with its hilly terrain have helped preserve a pattern of land use, culture and heritage unlike anywhere else in the country. In 1938 these woods covering 57 square miles, together with those of the lower Wye Valley were designated the Wye Valley and Dean Forest Park one of Britain’s first National Forest Parks. Today this unique heritage and the culture of the Forest reflect a close working relationship between its people and the environment.

The International Centre of Birds of Prey

Come and visit the longest established birds of prey centre in the world! A rare chance to see Birds of Prey ranging from huge eagles and vultures, falcons, hawks, buzzards, kites, caracara, secretary birds and many species of owl up close. If you are feeling brave watch the flying demonstrations that take place daily. Look out in particular for the evening flights which run during the winter months a chance in a lifetime to see how Owls behave in the wild. There is a Children’s play area, a lovely field to have a picnic surrounded by the picturesque woodland and a Cafe selling hot and cold food.

Dean Heritage Centre

This museum is situated in lovely woodland surroundings with Soudley Ponds directly opposite. Located in an historic mill building with lake, it has a mixture of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Upon entering you start a journey from the Ice Age to the present day. As you explore the site you discover the Royal Forest’s history including fun activities for the children from brass rubbing to dressing up!

Outside, there is more to find. The larger exhibits range from machinery to buildings, and will be the subject for discussion on how things used to be compared with our modern way of life. You will encounter a Forester’s Cottage, a Charcoal Burner’s Camp, a Free Mine and to the delight of many, a couple of large Old Spot pigs on your route around the site. Take a walk along the Woodland Trail where there are lovely areas to stop and have a picnic. There is a Children’s adventure playground and a craft area where you can watch the skilled woodmen as they produce lovely wooden sculptures. Enjoy the homemade cakes in the family friendly cafe overlooking the mill pond. Home to the Gage Library which houses over 18,000 historical records and archives, please ring 01594 822170 if you have a query.

GO Ape and Mallard’s Pike

Voted Best Place to Picnic in the South West in the Warburton’s Picnic Awards 2010.

Go Ape is located at Mallard’s Pike. Go Ape is a 3 hour tree top adventure situated in the middle of the forest with 3 different levels of difficulty. Could you handle climbing a 30ft rope ladder, tarzan swinging into a giant rope net then zip wiring through the trees, crawling through tunnels and tackling high wire rope bridges? The ultimate assault course not to be missed!

Dick Whittington – Farm park

Winner of the Visitor Attraction of the Year Award 2007

This small Farm Park has so much to offer. Come and see the farm animals; goats, sheep, micro pigs, Shetland ponies, deer and lots more. Visit the indoor pet’s corner and the Aquarium, Insect and Reptile House. See the wonderful Peacocks which are allowed to wonder around the park. There is also an indoor play barn complete with mega slides, a Go Kart circuit, a giant sandpit and castle and regular tractor rides and a nature trail.

PedalaBikeaway Cycle Centre

What better way to explore the hundreds of miles of disused railways and off road cycle tracks than by bike. Its so easy to hire a bike and follow the cycle track into the forest. Take a picnic and stop off along the way. The Family Cycle Trail is a waymarked circular route taking you through the heart of the forest. Suitable for all ages and abilities.

Puzzlewood

Explore miles of meandering pathways leading you through woodland, deep ravines and rock covered moss. Fourteen acres of ancient woodland, complete with eerie passages, hidden dead ends and wooden bridges. JRR Tolkien who was a frequent visitor to Puzzlewood is believed to have found inspiration for the fabled forests of Middle Earth contained in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” whilst visiting this woodland maze. Puzzlewood is no stranger to film crews. The unique scenery having appeared in the BBC “Merlin” series, an episode of Doctor Who and more recently the film Jack the Giant Killer and Star Wars! Also, see the farm animals, enjoy pony rides and relax whilst the children play in the playground.

The Palace Cinema

An Award Winning Edwardian Cinema originally built in 1910 one of the oldest purpose built cinemas still in use in Britain and in the top 50 list of independent cinema’s in the UK! The cinema has two screens and seating for 171 and 101 respectively. Although the decor sends you back in time it is the latest movie releases complete with digital surround sound that is shown. Amazing ticket prices just £2.50 mon-thurs and £3.50 Fri – Sun.

Dean Forest Railway

There is nothing like the romance of steam and you can share the excitement sounds and smells of these trains and describe a time when train travel was more glamorous and appealing. You can all get very close to the steam engines and discover the Forest landscape in all seasons from a heated carriage or get off together at one of the stops and explore the Forest walks, before returning on a later train. The old track between Lydney and Parkend has been carefully restored. Steam trains carry passengers on a 15 / 20 minute round trip taking in the lovely scenery. Stop at the stations for refreshments and see the museum where there is lots to discover from the bygone age of railways. Depending on whether you ride the trains in one round trip, or get off to explore, you can spend between a couple of hours to a full day here. Look out for the Special Days ~ A Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine and the regular supper cruises aboard the Diesel Railcar.

Sculpture Trail

The Sculpture Trail is a unique experience. The whole trail is 4.5 miles long and will take 2 – 3 hours to complete. It is one of the first of its kind to open in the UK featuring sculptures created by local artists who have interpreted the forest environment and its history.

Severn Bore

The Severn Bore tidal wave is the biggest in the world. It is one of Britain’s spectacular natural phenomena.

Canoe Hire and Adventure Centre

Hire a canoe or Kayak and sail down the River Wye.

Goodrich Castle

Explore the 12th Century Keep, chapel and maze of small rooms. Climb to the battlements and enjoy the amazing views of the Wye Valley. Also have a varied programme of special events including visiting theatre companies, medieval theme days and medieval tournaments

Clearwell Caves

Ancient Iron mines. Nine impressive caverns for the public to explore. Still in operation producing Ochre pigments for artists and other natural paints.

Symond Yat Rock

There are a number of trails leading from the car park or follow the easy access path to take you through the Iron Age Fort to the top of Yat Rock one of the most stunning views in England. Log Cabin serves hot and cold snacks.

Fishing

There are various lakes around the forest stocked with fish. A day permit can be purchased from Connections at Beechenhurst for £5.00 per day. Or from the Tackle Shop in Market Street, Cinderford.

The Cyril Heart Arboretum

Almost 200 unusual and interesting trees various carved sculptures form this level, easily accessible arboretum. Braille signs have been installed for the visually impaired. Path around site 0.6 miles. Visit Speech House Lake made famous by BBC’s popular “Merlin” series. The Trail is approximately 1.4 miles.

The Nags Head Nature Reserve

Managed in partnership between the Forestry Commission and the RSPB. With trails and visitor centre. This reserve covers 750 acres and has one of the most impressive lists of breeding woodland birds such as pied flycatchers and redstarts.