Cycle from mallards pike in the Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean Visitor Guide: Things to do & Places to See

There are lots of fun things to see or do in The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The area has many options for places to visit and tourist attractions to have fun. There are many fun activities fun and beautiful sights for you to see. There are also some hidden gems to explore when venturing off the popular forest trails. Travelling in the forest is best on foot, bike, car or on the buses.

Forest Of Dean

The Forest of Dean is a stunning area of ancient mixed woodland and one of the few surviving ancient woods in England. The FOD covers over 42 square miles of countryside and is a diverse habitat for wildlife. The area has an industrial past based mainly around the mining industry. There are remnants of the iron, coal, and you can spot even gold mining in the forest.

History

Historically, they reserved a large part of the woods for royal hunting before 1066. It subsequently remained as the second largest Crown forest in England, the largest being New Forest in Hampshire.

Popular

  • Cycling Guide -Routes for beginners and experienced in off-road.
  • Restaurants – Places that you can eat out for lunch or an evening meal.
  • Dean Forest Railway – Enjoy a day out travelling through the area on a variety of steam trains and locomotives.
  • Activities – Adventure and fun things to do on your trip to the area.

Tourist Attractions, Places to Visit and What to See

There are many Tourist Attractions In The Forest Of Dean to suit most interests. The biggest attraction is the miles of ancient woodland to explore, either on foot or by car.

Walking in the woods

My preference for a free day out is a circular walk, with breaks for taking photographs of scenery or wildlife if you are in the right place at the right time. Accompanied by a picnic and drink as required.

Visit the Dean Forest Railway

Dean Forest Railway is Dog Friendly

A very popular place for steam rail enthusiasts and the public. You can enjoy a few train trips on old trains on their branch line through the Forest of Dean. The Dean Forest Railway also has a museum of all things rail and a few nice places to eat and drink on the way.

Have Fun at GoApe and do Adventure Activities

This is a popular place in the Forest of Dean where you can go for a splendid adventure. The GoApe site is very popular with families looking for something more active to do.

Visit the Dean Heritage Centre

Dean Heritage Centre

The Dean Heritage Centre is in the pretty valley of Soudley, Gloucestershire, England in the Forest of Dean and exists to record and preserve the unique social and industrial history of the area and its people. The centre comprises the museum itself, a millpond and waterwheel, a forester’s cottage with garden and animals, art and craft exhibitions and workshops, and trails around the surrounding woodland. In addition, there are picnic tables, barbecue hearths, an adventure playground, a gift shop selling local produce and the Heritage Kitchen, a restaurant providing home-made food. 

Explore The Sculpture Trail

Forest Cathedral at The Sculpture Trail
Forest Cathedral

This is a great day out for those that enjoy art and walking in the woods. There are 16 sculptures on the Sculpture Trail, which is about 4.5 miles long. To see every sculpture it takes about three hours, however many take longer because of picnics or detours to see the natural beauty of the area.

Enjoy The Views when visiting Symonds Yat Rock

Symonds Yat Rock overlooks a spectacular gorge through which the River Wye snakes. This rock is the perfect viewpoint from which to watch raptors. You can watch a pair of Peregrine Falcons that nest annually within sight of the rock through telescopes.

See St Briavels Castle

St Briavels Castle is a moated Norman castle at St Briavels in the English county of Gloucestershire. The castle has a huge Edwardian gatehouse that guards the entrance.

Visit Puzzlewood

Puzzlewood covers 14 acres of ancient forest, which also shows evidence of open cast iron ore mining dating from the Roman period, and possibly earlier.

Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean
Photo by Carl Newton on Unsplash

There were several miles of pathways laid down in the early 19th century to provide access to the woods and provide picturesque walks. The area contains strange rock formations, secret caves and ancient trees, with a confusing maze of paths. It is said to be one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s inspirations for Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings.

Places to Visit in The Forest of Dean

  • Cinderford – A small town in the forest with good transport links and rugby club.
  • Coleford – A small market town, it is situated approximately four miles east of the Welsh border and close to the Wye Valley.
  • Drybrook – A small village on the edge of the area with a quarry and some fantastic woodland.
  • Redbrook – A village on the banks of the River Wye, it has a village store and 2 pubs. It is a glorious spot for those using the river for fun, including for wild swimming.
  • Monmouth – The historic county town of the Welsh county of Monmouthshire. A place with a superb choice of shops and eateries.
  • Parkend – A village on the Dean Forest Railway with a shop and a few pubs. Also, many places to stay nearby for holidaymakers on an adventure.
  • Lydney – A small town with the areas railway station, on the banks of the River Severn, it has a harbour and the end of the River Lyd.
Fairplay Pond Forest of Dean

Holidays in The Area

The Forest of Dean is a beautiful location for an inland holiday in the UK. Accommodation can range from camping, glamping, B&B and hotels to suit your taste. There is a wide choice of adventure holiday activities including walking, bushcraft, and watersports on the River Wye AONB.

  • Camping – Sites in the area for holidays under canvas.
  • B&B – Guesthouses in the area for a budget and comfortable stay.
  • Hotels – A variety of different standard rooms are available in the local area.
  • Glamping – Options for posh camping in the local area. There are some truly unique places to stay.

Favourite Things to See

Our favourite places to visit and things to do in the area are.

  • Wye Valley – Strolling along the river banks of this beautiful river.
  • Cannop Ponds – Exploring the lakes and woodland in the area on foot, really should try on a bike one day.
  • Drybrook – The woods near the village as quiet and have history there.
  • Symonds Yat – A beautiful section of the Wye Valley AONB with a fantastic viewpoint of the gorge.
  • Biblins – The beautiful countryside near to Biblins footbridge is one of my favourite places to explore.
  • Churches – Some very historical religious buildings in the forest.
  • Mallards Pike – A beautiful lake with a picnic area deep in the woods.
  • Canoe – Traveling by boat downstream for a few days from Hereford to Chepstow.
  • Goodrich Castle – An 11th-century ruin on the banks of the River Wye.
  • Chepstow Castle – A fantastic historic castle Ideal a quick trip from the area, the castle is near where two rivers meet.