If you’ve read my post- here – about my recent trip to the Forest of Dean, you’ll know I was fortunate enough to explore this beautiful area of the country with some other Outdoor Bloggers recently. I’ll link them at the end of this post, as we all stayed in different placed and tried different activities!
The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley had been on my list for years, but I’d never made it there for one reason or another, so I jumped at the chance to be able to spend a weekend there full of adventures! It was so easy to get to, just 2 hours from Southampton. You could also fly to Bristol Airport, s it’s only a 1 hour drive from the city.
The road and rail links are superb, and the Forest of Dean is signposted prolifically once you reach Gloucestershire!
So, on a sunny Friday afternoon I made my way from Hampshire to my hotel near Coleford, ready for an adventure packed weekend!
My home for the weekend was the 17th century hunting lodge, The Speech House, located right in the centre of the Forest of Dean. I’m not kidding, there’s an obelisk right over the road marking the exact central point!
It was the hunting lodge of Charles II and is now one of 3 Verderer’s Courts in England. Verderers, usually four to each region of Royal Forest, were judicial officers, dealing with offences such as stealing venison, cutting trees down illegally or encroachment through private areas and buildings. The only other Verderer’s Courts in England are Lyndhurst in The New Forest and the Royal Forest of Epping.
Breakfast and formal meals are served in the Verderer’s Court Room at The Speech House, but you could also eat in the Orangery or Carolean Restaurant.
The breakfast was lovely, and you had so many options, from cereal to a full english…
These rooms each offer seven foot antique, unique four poster beds.
There are so many options available, and all very affordable too, which is always a winner with me. They’re also dog and ‘well behaved owner’ friendly! The couple who run the hotel, Peter and Gill, were so accommodating and happy to give me a tour and history lesson. It was fascinating and I know it will be a perfect base for adventures in the future.
It’s also the setting for the Forest Activities Festival, mentioned in my other post – here – on 23rd April 2017, so why not head there?!
Where to Eat?
There are so many places to eat in the Forest of Dean, and we were fortunate enough to try a few of them during our weekend visit.
And so, in no particular order, here were 3 places I could recommend to anyone visiting the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley!
Green & Jenks – Monmouth
We started our weekend with cocktails, dinner and ice cream at Green & Jenks Gelato House in Monmouth. Green & Jenks is a family business which (aside from a 58 year gap in the middle) has been open since 1888!
They source all of their ingredients locally, meaning that everything is as fresh as possible, so we were very fortunate to head there on the Friday evening!
If you’re in the area, they also host a regular ‘Gin & Gelato’ night – Um, where do I sign up?
Locally sourced food at Green & Jenks Photo: David Broadbent Photography
We had bread from a local bakery, cheeses from the surrounding area, salads and even wild boar charcuterie!
In true blogger fashion, we proceeded to spend far too long taking photos of our food before actually eating it!
After dinner? We got to design our own ice creams.
How cool is that!?*
*no pun intended
House of Bread
Between activities on the Saturday we all headed to the Hot Pot Pottery, also encompassing the House of Bread, for lunch. They had shelves full of beautiful pottery, and we even got a demo from the owner.
For lunch we had the options of soup, followed by both a standard and Mediterranean ploughmans, followed by cake.
For what is an adventure without cake?
The Farmer’s Boy Inn
Nestled in the village of Longhope, the Farmer’s Boy Inn is a super cosy former coaching house, built in the 17th Century. It serves the most incredible food. I don’t think there were any complaints from any of us! They win awards annually for their pies. I didn’t have one of these, a number of us other guys and girls did though!
I went for the Forest of Dean Black Pudding, Mushroom & Tomato Stack, wrapped in bacon, served with autumn fruits and Hillside Ale Chutney. Then, Slow roasted Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with champ mash potato, honey glazed shallots, apple and sage sauce. Finally? Forest stewed apples with an oat & shortbread crumble top, served with clotted cream.
Forest of Dean Hog Roast Co.
On our final afternoon, after a wonderful walk round Puzzlewood we all congregated for a hog roast before heading home. All their pork comes from their own home-reared Gloucester Old Spot pigs or locally sourced suppliers.
It was a welcome end to a wonderful weekend in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley!