We took Frank out last weekend for a trip down to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire I’d never been before and was keen to visit this ancient woodland – the second largest forest in England.
It’s about a 3 hour drive from home. On the way down, we stopped not far from our campsite and took a walk along a 5 mile sculpture trail (www.forestofdean-sculpture.org.uk) in the forest. This is a collection of 17 contemporary sculptures dotted around the forest. My favourite sculpture was the stained glass installation called Cathedral. Paul liked a sculpture called Raw which was a tree’s mass represented as a cube in the forest. Stella wasn’t too impressed with the sculptures but did find the forest smells very, very interesting.
When we arrived at Bracelands Forestry Commission campsite (www.campingintheforest.co.uk/england/forest-of-dean/bracelands-campsite), we found it was right in the middle of the forest in a clearing. Our pitch had lots of space around it and was perfect for seeing the stars so clearly at night – and for hearing the owls screeching too.
On Saturday we headed directly out from the campsite onto the forest trails and headed towards Symond’s Yat. Symonds Yat is a village in the Wye Valley which straddles the River Wye. The views from Symonds Yat Rock are quiet something and we had fun watching the kayaks play around in the rapids on the river there too. We also were quite fascinated by the hand pull ferry which enabled us to cross the river. It was operated by a local pub and we were pulled across the river on the ferry boat by the use of an overhead cable. It felt a bit like stepping back in time… Unfortunately it was just before we got on the ferry that the heaven’s opened for the biggest and heaviest shower of the day. Later on once the sun had come out, we crossed the Biblins suspension bridge which was rather wobbly… Stella wasn’t too impressed at all by having to cross it!
It was a funny weekend weather wise with showers always seeming possible and sometimes making an appearance but it was mostly sunny – so much so that we even sat outside in the sun when we got back on Saturday afternoon/evening. We got the games out later on playing pictionary man which had us both in hysterics at our equally bad attempts to draw something sensible.
On Sunday we walked though the forest again and walked across the border from England to Wales ending up in the village of Monmouth. I got a big two scoop ice cream cone (flavours = jammy dodger and eton mess) and Paul got a steak and stilton pasty. I think these choices pretty much typify our differing tastes with regards to food! We came across a National Trust property called the Kymin which was an 18th century round house with an adjacent naval temple (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-kymin). We walked 15 miles altogether on Sunday so that coupled with the 11 miles on Saturday and the 5 miles on Friday put us over the 30 mile mark for the weekend. That’s what my legs told me anyways… 😉 Goodness knows how many miles Stella did with her overactive sense of smell driving her to explore the forest floor very energetically for most of the weekend.
We had read that there were wild boar around the forest but we didn’t see any – probably a good thing given we had a sniffing canine with us!
We headed home Monday morning stopping at the Ludlow Food Centre to stock up on pies, sausages and other treats. Yum yum. The next trip away is yet to be determined but there will definitely be one more before Frank hangs up his hat for the winter!