The Forest of Dean & Wye Valley – A Perfect Setting for an Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you’re all more than aware I love an adventure, and getting outside is very important to me! Part of my remit as a GetOutside Champion with Ordnance Survey is to inspire people to get out and about on this beautiful island of ours, and with places like the Forest of Dean on offer, it’s easy to make getting outside fun for the whole family!

All too often we add places to our UK bucket lists that are too obvious. I rarely use the term ‘hidden gem‘ but after my recent visit, I’m inclined to, because the Forest of Dean is just that!

The Forest of Dean is one of the only surviving ancient woodlands in England and was the second largest crown forest for hunting, after the New Forest in Hampshire (my local stomping ground).

When I was invited along with some other lovely bloggers, who I’ll link at the end of this post, I immediately said I would love to. My dad had spent some time working in Monmouth and had told me it was beautiful, and so to be given the opportunity to visit this part of the UK was great.

It truly is one of those places that has something for everyone, whether you want an active trip or not. The upcoming Forest Activities Festival, being held at The Speech House Hotel on 23rd April 2017 will showcase the best the forest has to offer, but for a sneak preview of just a few of the activities on offer, read on…

Canoeing the River Wye

The River Wye is the 5th longest river in the whole of the UK, so what better place to get on the water for an adventure. We headed down in our transport, provided by CDS Taxi’s, to Monmouth to meet with Liz and Paul from Inspire2Adventure, who provide adventure activities in and around the forest, ranging from climbing and canoeing to orienteering and gorge scrambling.

On this occasion we were off canoeing. We all hopped on the minibus and headed up the river!

The Wye was high and so the canoes were rafted together for additional stability before we launched.

David Broadbent Photography
Off we paddled, down the river, through the famous rapids at Symond’s Yat, where we all got a little bit of a soaking, before continuing on to Monmouth.

I’d never been canoeing before, so this was a first for me, and I absolutely loved it.

There is nothing better for me than being on the water in any way I can, and to be able to do so in such beautiful and historic scenery?

​Well, what could be better?!

Forest of Dean Adventure Challenge

After a short lunch stop (read part 2 of my Dean Wye Weekend post here!) we headed to Forest of Dean Adventure for an Adventure Challenge, where we climbed, swung and jumped around the high ropes activities, like a chimpanzee… or a parrot.

 

David Broadbent Photography
Some more than others (thanks to my knee I couldn’t climb most of the trees as they were at a strange angle and my knee wouldn’t bend that way) which if nothing else is an excuse for me to go back!

Human jenga, anyone? Repping my beautiful knee support! Photo by David Broadbent Photography
All was not lost for me, however, as I did get to spend the time I wasn’t climbing trees playing with spaniels!
David Broadbent Photography

4×4 Off Roading

When I found out I was down to try 4×4 off roading, I was so excited. It’s something I’d always wanted to have a go at, and thankfully I wasn’t entirely awful.

​I’m basically prepped for my trip through Africa.

Ok, maybe not, but the instructors at Whitecliff 4×4 were the most patient people, and I have no doubt that if you needed any off road training for a fun weekend activity, business requirement or crazy adventures through Africa *ahem* they would be the people to go to!

I managed to glean lots of information from our very patient instructor, Kevin, including some amusing anecdotes on people who hadn’t listened to advice and ended up in the trees (unharmed).

I love a Landrover, so it was great to see first hand what these beasts of cars are able to do.​We got to do lots of the trails ourselves after a quick demo from the instructors, before they took us on some of the more technical routes, including one aptly named ‘The Screamer’!

I had such a brilliant time, and can 100% recommend off roading with Whitecliff 4×4 in the Forest of Dean! 

Puzzlewood

Ah, now how do I describe Puzzlewood!? It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had the privilege to visit, and it’s no surprise that it’s been used as a filming location for shows such as Merlin and Dr Who, as well as films – Some of you will have seen it in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as The Huntsman!

It’s full of twisting pathways around ancient woodland, and you can still see proof of Roman iron ore mining in the area. It’s full of strange geological formations, caves and moss covered ancient trees.It’s said to be one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspirations for the Old Forest, Mirkwood, Lothlorien and Fangorn in Middle Earth from the famous Lord of The Rings, and it’s definitely a magical place!

As well as this, 2017 is Visit England’s Year of Literary Heroes and Visit Wales Year of Legends so from the 9th to the 23rd of June, Puzzlewood will be full of magical sculptures in order to celebrate this, but also inspire imaginations of both children and adults a-like and encourage people to get involved with a writing and photography competition they’ll be running.

I told you it was a magical place, it’s even full of faeries!

Forest of Dean Activities Festival

These are just the activities I was fortunate enough to take part in. The other group went mountain biking with Pedal A Bike Away, Caving at Clearwell and also Clay Pigeon Shooting!
The Forest Activities Festival, as I already mentioned, is being held at The Speech House Hotel on the 23rd April 2017 from 10-5. You’ll be able to have a go at bushcraft, archery, rugby, cycling, climbing, rocket science and even on segways. s well as this, there will be a dog show, craft, live music and local food/drink.

The companies we adventured with will be there too, so make sure you check them out!

The Other Bloggers!

Check out the below blogs and see what exciting activities they got up to!
Jenni –  The Thrifty Magpies Nest
Zoe – Splodz Blogz
Ed – RexyEdventures
CerysMascara And Mud
Tom –  My Travel Mission
Sian – The Girl Outdoors
Immy – The Wild Rambler
Iona – Tents, Trees & Bumblebees
Kate – Outdoor Chics
Charlotte – Wild Walks With Wine
Greta – Mums Do Travel
Kirstie – Family Adventure Project
David Broadbent Photography

I fell in love with the Forest of Dean, it’s a place steeped in history, folklore and beautiful scenery.

​Not to mention the fact that there are so many opportunities for adventures!

So why not add it to your list for this year?! I know I’ll be going back!

Have you visited the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley? Would you like to? What activities would you try?
* I was a guest of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourist Association on this trip. As ever, all opinions are my own!

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