The Forest of Dean is one of the most magical walking spots in the country. It has preserved much of its splendour, history and wildlife, which add up to an unbeatable getaway for camping fanatics. A long weekend, or a full-on holiday, can be spent in the company of your hiking boots and acres of emerald foliage.
If you want to tread on these unique trails, following millions of others throughout the ages, we’d like to share some popular walking routes, to ensure you get the best experience possible!
You’ll quickly come upon a disused railway line, a relic of the quarry from the forest’s industrial heyday. The track slopes down to the Central line, then meets the babbling energy of Blackpool Brook. Train lovers will be in their element during this part of the journey!
In another 15 minutes or so, you’ll arrive at a ridge where wild boars are known to graze; from there, you’ll have amazing views of the woodland to your right, moving gradually to crumbling army barracks from WWII. Eventually you’ll climb to the Speech House – a former meeting venue for forest officials, now a classy hotel with masks of crawling ivy.
Before looping back, be sure to visit Reform Bridge, which looks out on more historic railway tracks…
The terrain here will dip and angle into all sorts of boughs, burrows and steep inclines. Stamina is essential for making it to the Penalt Church, site of a 1,000-year old yew tree in the graveyard. Take a few minutes and gaze at its massive, grizzly stature against a backdrop of ancient stone.
Afterwards, you’ll have to traverse a bridge over the A40, sticking to grassland on the right when you step off it. Between Penalt and Monmouth, there are glorious ridgetop woods to look at as you take a breather, setting your return journey on a gentler keel.
The Christchurch Expedition
One for the true cross-country veterans – we estimate a five-hour walk time from beginning to end. That’s 10 and a half miles of uninterrupted rural bliss…
The view from Yat Rock is justly celebrated, but there’s a whole lot more to enjoy from this corner of the Forest of Dean. Setting off from Braceland Drive, it’ll take roughly an hour to hit the River Wye, looping along to Huntsman Hill. Stay on public footpaths until you move over a quarry; detours can be taken at the Ferry Steps, where the remains of the North Weir Ironworks sit for your appreciation.
These paths are mossy, draped in ferns, and very old by anyone’s standards. The Nature Trust alone has five reserves here, three of which (White Rocks, Leaping Sticks and King Arthur’s Cave) are visited on the trail.
Before you pack up and set off for the camping trip of a lifetime, take heed from our walking highlights. Anyone, young or old, can fall into wonder at the end of a long, invigorating stroll; the question is, can you keep up with the best the Forest of Dean has to offer?
Book ahead at our Bracelands campsite to get that spot-on, walker-friendly HQ!
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