The Forest of Dean, a former royal hunting forest was designated England's first national forest park in 1938 and is today the largest area of broadleaf woodland in the country and inspiration to famous authors, such as J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.
Each season brings its own special appeal. In Spring, many parts of the ancient forest see their woodland floors transformed into spectacular carpets of bluebells while in Autumn, the evergreen trees blend with the golds and russets of oak, beech and larch, turning the area into a riot of colour. In summer, take a lakeside stroll around Mallards Pike or Cannop Pond, or enjoy a steam train ride on the Dean Forest Railway.
At Symonds Yat Rock, you can view the resident peregrine falcons nesting on the adjacent rocks and walk along the river Wye and catch a glimpse of a kingfisher or even an otter. Buzzards and sparrowhawks are a common sight above the trees while kestrels and goshawks are regular visitors. The RSPB Nature Reserve at Nagshead is home to pied flycatchers, woodpeckers and many other woodland species.
The magical environment of the Forest of Dean has for centuries inspired and nurtured many great artists, writers and poets. Today, a growing number of artists and craftsmen continue to make the Forest their home and regularly display their work at local galleries and craft centres. The Dean Heritage Centre, Taurus Crafts and Harts Barn are ideal places to view craftsmen at work and browse the gift shops.
Nature and art can blend together beautifully in the forst and this can be seen at the award winning sculpture trail at Beechenhurst. This gentle 3 mile trail through ancient woods is the largest outdoor sculpture trail in the South West.
Garden lovers can enjoy the delights of Lydney Park Spring Gardens with its fantastic collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, or Westbury Court Garden a National Trust site featuring the only formal Dutch water garden in the UK. The Butterfly Zoo at Symonds Yat, the National Birds of Prey Centre at Newent, and Puzzle Wood near Coleford offer exciting and very different family days out.
For the adventurous of all ages, the Go Ape Highwire Adventure Course at Mallards Pike or the internationally renowned Diving Centre at Chepstow encourage people to sign up to a healthier and fitter lifestyle. With such a diverse range of activities within a short distance of Highbury, there is bound to be something to suit all tastes and abilities. Whether the Family Cycle Path or the Wye Valley Walk, llama trekking or quad biking, canoeing or caving, there is something for everyone.
There are many fine golf courses within easy reach of Lydney. These include 2 courses at Marriott St. Pierre at Chepstow (15 mins), 2 courses at the 2010 Ryder Cup location at Celtic Manor (25 mins), and 2 courses in Coleford (20 mins). Lydney also has a new 12 hole course.
EATING OUT IN THE FOREST OF DEAN & WYE VALLEY
There are numerous good pubs sourcing their ingredients from local farmers and suppliers. These include...