{AD} an adventure in the Forest of Dean

Imagine an otherworldly woodland, filled with strange rock formations, secret caves, and ancient trees. Imagine a handmade picnic, with local and seasonal delicacies, wrapped in wax paper and carefully packed in a wicker basket. Imagine a medieval castle standing proud over a river valley, its walls steeped in history and drama. We found all these things and more when Wye Valley & Forest of Dean Tourism invited us to set off across the newly toll-free Severn Bridge to visit the Forest of Dean during the Easter holidays.

We began our adventure at Puzzlewood, a truly unique and remarkable woodland, the cliffs and gullies of its dreamlike landscape formed by underground cave systems (known as scoles) which were exposed by uplift and erosion, and then mined for iron ore from the Iron Age until Roman times. It’s the site of a genuine treasure trove: 3,000 Roman coins dating back to 3BC were discovered at Puzzlewood hidden in the scoles.

Puzzlewood has been open to the public since the early 1900s, when an honesty box was placed at the gate for the benefit of the local church, and it is regularly used for filming, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens. My boys delighted in imagining lightsaber battles across rickety bridges and elvish quests among the trees, and I was fascinated by the subaqueous light that filtered through the fresh leaves. It’s truly like no other woodland that I’ve ever seen, and its magic is palpable.

We stopped at Beechenhurst (home of the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail) for a delicious picnic lunch made by the Forest Deli who provided such delights as hand baked Wild Garlic & Goats Cheese Quiche, Wild Boar Sausage Rolls, local cheeses and handmade sodabread. The lovely folks at the Forest Deli wrapped the whole hamper without using plastic, as well as catering for my smallest boy’s allergies. A picnic of dreams!

Our final stop was breathtaking Goodrich Castle. One of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles, it stands above the River Wye, with spectacular views from the battlements and a fascinating history. My boys were captivated by tales of sieges and battles, archers and cannons. They listened intently to their audioguides and hared around in search of clues for the Easter Adventure Quest.

If you’re based in Bristol or the West of England, the Forest of Dean is just a whisper away, especially now that the tolls have gone from the bridges. As we discovered, it has something for everyone and is an excellent place for a springtime adventure. Click here to view a video which shows what a day in the Forest of Dean could be like for you.

Happy adventuring!

{This is a paid post with gifted experiences, in association with Forest of Dean & Wye Valley, but all thoughts, opinions, and images are my own. }

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