The Forest of Dean is one of the best places to check out in the UK, rich in nature and history there are loads of amazing activities to get involved with! So here are some of my favourite things to do in the Forest of Dean….
Whether you’re after adventure and exploration in the more rural areas or a light hike and beautiful view, the Forest of Dean has is a wonderful place to spend a weekend away.
With so many suggestions of places to visit in the Forest of Dean I’ve broken down a list of my top twenty-one things to do, which I hope will give you some ideas for planning your trip!
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21 things to do in the Forest of Dean
This magical woodland has played host to many a film and tv crew over the years making it the perfect location to live out your favourite shows such as Merlin, Star Wars and even Doctor Who.
Caving is such an exciting activity and Clearwell caves offers the perfect opportunity to try it out. With both larger caverns and opportunity for deeper adventures there’s something for everyone here!
Slimbridge Wetland Centre
So not technically in the Forest of Dean but just over the River Severn is the Slim bridge wetland centre which is definitely worth a visit for those interested in wildlife! The centre offers some amazing views, information and guides of the local wildlife and estuary!
Cycling and Biking
One of the best ways to get around the Forest of Dean is by bike, on the amazing cycle trails. These cover the entire forest and are suitable for all abilities and ages. Even better is that if you don’t have a bike of your own you can hire one out at the Forest of Dean cycling centre.
Symonds Yat Rock
This look out spot is definitely worth the hike, offering amazing views from what once was the location of an iron age fort! There are plenty of circular routes up to this viewpoint however, the best one by far crosses the famous Bilbins bridge which connects the Forest of Dean to the wider Wye Valley!
The Forest of Dean sculpture trail is a unique art exhibition featuring site specific installations (meaning they were built and inspired by the forest!), which has been running for 35+ years with new artwork installed all the time it is definitely worth a visit.
This is the perfect spot for a lake side adventure! With plenty of activities to choose from including treetop climbing, kayaking, and segway trails Mallard’s Pike is the perfect spot for those seeking a more adventurous day out!
This impressive castle is steeped in history and intrigue; branded as Wale’s grandest castle, it dates back to the 1400’s and has links to the Tudors and English Civil war- making it the perfect destination for history lovers.
This working free mine and museum offers underground tours led by one of the current miners! Here you can learn all about the Forest of Deans ancient tradition of free mining and the unique lifestyle it has created.
This magnificent fortress stands on the edge of the river wye and holds over nine hundred years of history within its walls. It is definitely a sight to be seen, having been carefully preserved over hundreds of years. The doors of the castle although realistic are actually copies of the historic doors that once occupied the entrance- now preserved within the castle they are the oldest castle doors in Europe!
This gothic masterpiece of a building now turned into something of a ghost monument is a reminder of the Tudor era dissolution of the monasteries. Missing its roof among other areas, the abbey still stands strong and is not to be missed when visiting the Forest of Dean.
Cyril Hart Arboretum
This beautiful arboretum is home to over two hundred different tree species, collected over the last century with some dating to as early as the 1900s. There are distinct species collected from all over the globe available to walk around and view.
Dymock woods is a designated sight of special scientific interest and its easy to see why with a wide variety of wildlife and plant species it a fantastic location to enjoy the natural surroundings. Be sure to check it out in the springtime to enjoy the famous daffodil bloom.
These beautiful ponds are the perfect spot to enjoy a bit of wildlife watching, with trails leading all around the ponds and back into the forest, it is an excellent location to enjoy a peaceful walk or cycle. The ponds are home to some amazing bird species including the colourful mandarin duck so keep an eye on the water for a chance to spot them!
Dean Heritage Centre
The Dean heritage centre is not just an information point for visitors but also includes five museums, several outdoor exhibits and plays host to interactive demonstrations and activities throughout the year which anyone can get involved it. It is well worth checking out on your trip to the forest.
With views over the estuary and river Lydney harbour makes for a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset whilst on an evening stroll. The harbour itself is shrouded in history with connections back to the industrial revolution and given its importance as a link from the south west to the rest of the world it holds a special place with the people of Lydney.
Nagshead Nature Reserve
The RSPB nature reserve at Nagshead is well worth a visit if you are in the area. A prime spot for birdwatching and wildlife it’s great for nature enthusiasts, with the chance to spot the Pied flycatcher and Goshawk.
The Severn Bore
One of Britain’s few natural spectacular phenomena the Severn bore occurs when a large surge wave can be seen on the River Severn estuary reaching as tall as 50 feet. Be sure to check the viewing times for the best chance at catching a glimpse.
Coleford town is the perfect base for exploring the forest, a beautiful market town with a range of independent businesses to shop. The historic clocktower is the centrepiece of the town with lots of events and activities throughout the year.
In the depths of the forest lies Beechenhurst centre and park, with a range of activities from different trails and information to high ropes and walking routes. It is the perfect place to begin your adventure in the Forest of Dean.
The Wye Valley greenway
The Wye Valley greenway is an excellent walk to enjoy the natural surroundings and history of the forest; with the trail leading through a renovated railway tunnel. The tunnel runs for 1,080 metres giving your walk an extra sense of adventure as you head one hundred metres below ground- but don’t worry there is plenty of lights to guide your way!
If you on a bigger trip exploring more of Europe check out my guides to France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and United Kingdom.
My Travel Tips and Recommendations
To book flights, I always use flight search engine Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals.
For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through Booking.com. I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb.
Picking travel insurance that covers you in all eventualities is an essential part of planning a trip for every single person. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. You never know what’s around the corner.
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